Technology plays a big role in an organisation's scaling efforts, especially if it is a non-profit organisation, like ours. Taking that into consideration we have begun using technology in almost all aspects of our work. We are keen about taking assessments of our tests on the digital platform. Using digital devices for assessments of our English Literacy Program-related tests would help us to give feedback to the teachers and partner organisations quickly. Thereby, enabling them to take decisions more effectively and also helping us to reach and cater to more students through their teachers and other partnering organisations.
While still, it is in the nascent stage, the very fact that digital assessments seem distinctly a workable possibility excites us. We have begun experimenting with EkStep, a non-profit set up to provide learning opportunities to children. EkStep deals with end users as well as content creators. Their platform, Genie, allows for the development of gamified apps which has been used by us to develop a digital form of our test, wherein the child can take the test themselves or the teachers can input the marks of their students' paper-pencil test, on the app.
Geared up with our mobile phones & tablets, we headed to Keshav Gore Smarak Trust in Goregaon West, Mumbai, where these experimental tests were conducted on 55 students on 27th of March, 2017. These 9th & 10th Graders attend an after-school program with the trust that facilitates learning of school syllabus as well as skill development.
In the 1st experiment was a student-centric test wherein 24 students took the tests themselves on the devices. Our general observation was that the students were more relaxed and confident while taking this test. They got the hang of the application pretty quickly and with very little explanation required from our end. They started solving the test on the application and before long they had completed the test, most of which was without assistance from our end. Once over, some of them eagerly wanted to know how they had scored. Some wanted to engage with this app and were wanting to know how they could download the app on their phones.
The 2nd experiment had the teacher at its center, wherein 31 students answered orally and the teacher fed their marks into the device. The first observation on conducting this method of testing was that it was a quicker version of administering the test than the first experiment. Also that it was easier to select the correct data from the method we chose to create the templates. The key fear was that there was a possibility of the teacher forgetting to change the student profile when students are sharing devices and this would create data issues.
Overall, our feeling is that if the few small niggles could be ironed out then this app could be used in conducting Digital Mapping tests across various channels for English Literacy Program.
With newer learning, our next trial of these experiments is being conducted with 750 students from 13 Ashram Schools in Nashik and on Teacher Entrepreneurs during this summer vacation.
The advent of technology has made the Mapping Test easy and interesting to conduct on the digital platform. And the successful conduct of these experiments has increased our expectations and hopes that more tests and content will find its way to the digital side. The leap from non-digital to digital is clear and awaited.