Introducing RACHEL to your target community

How you go about introducing RACHEL can have a tremendous positive or negative impact on the success of your program. Every community is different, but some best practices we’ve come to see.

On the Ground

First, it is important to introduce the technology in order of established hierarchies. Demonstrate the device to the headmaster or person in charge and ask him or her to become an advocate. This is critical, as the person in charge should have a clear understanding of the technology before it is presented to his or her subordinates (often teachers). There is a lot of politics in school systems, even very small schools, and no one wants to feel like the people they manage have a better understanding of this new technology.

Second, introduce the technology to teachers as a group before students. When introducing the product to teachers, the goal always has to be how do I make life easier for teachers. Introduce to them the content slowly, and see which teacher or two really see potential for the device in their classroom. An early win is going to be having one or two teachers with a really focused program around RACHEL. Listen to their ideas on how it could help them carefully. Without teacher buy-in, programs do not succeed. Curriculum ideas have to come from local teachers and will change based on which teacher wants to first adopt the system. Growth will come organically in a school if one teacher leads by example.

Third, start small. The initial goal is to set up a pilot class or teaching session within the school. The best introduction is to take things that are costly or a headahce for teachers, and use RACHEL to alleviate issues. The most common example of this is printouts. If you can get one teacher to start using the content upload section instead of paying for, finding, and collecting print-outs, that should be considered a huge win. If you don’t have this win right away, or printouts aren’t digitized already, consider helping them digitize documents with a camera phone. Alternatively, based on feedback in number two above, consider hiding all the content except the one or two content modules that teachers have expressed interest in trying in their classroom. Keep this introduction as simple as possible. Be prepared that teachers may only want to use this as a reference tool for themselves at first. A big concern for teachers is having students understand the technology better than them, it is important they feel comfortable with the technology.

Fourth, be prepared to invest. I can’t understate this enough, if your project does not have a budget for on-the-ground staff or teachers, it is unlikely to succeed. While it seems counter-intuitive that after all the great work and investment you’ve done to get this system in place, more is needed, the fact is, more is needed. The likely first wins will come from after-hours remedial math training. It’s unlikely that teachers are going to immediately integrate RACHEL into their classroom curriculum at first. Teachers who work after-hours are expecting to be paid for their time. This is totally just a reality that is different than many U.S. and Western teachers. Develop a relationship with your key teacher or two, who have expressed a desire to make this work, and find a way to pay them for their work.

Fifth, be available. There are issues that arise, be available to help navigate them. If there is no feedback loop, or desire for ongoing communication, it again is unlikely to have a long-term sustainable program. If you’re taking this to a remote community in a village in the Himalayas and have no way to hear from your advocates on the ground, your chances of success are greatly diminished. Many of our most successful deployments are in areas which internet actually exists, it is just too unreliable, expensive, or slow to integrate into the classroom.

Sixth, be patient. The goals for the first year or two of the program should be that the technology becomes an active piece of valuable equipment. Teachers have ways of doing things that are often fairly rigid from year to year. Deployment and measuring of results for a pilot program is not something that really happens within a year or even two. In our most successful and long-running programs, we began impact evaluations on educational outcomes two and three years after deployment. There are other ways to measure early program success, such as use, student engagement (absenteeism rates), computer literacy, etc. Know what you’re trying to measure and be patient about getting there.

It’s by no means comprehensive, but hopefully as we grow these forums more advice will come in.

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All wonderful points Jeremy, which we’ve learned first hand from a pilot study we ran last year where we deployed a LMS at a primary school in Tanzania last year. This year we’re expanding the digital educational content (which came from the teachers!) with RACHEL-PLUS; the capacity of the server that hosts the LMS we deployed last year was limited.

In addition to your points, we found teacher training resources we could leave for refresher and new teachers, helpful. Could you advise what training tools you’ve developed that could be deployed on RACHEL (and/or in our case tablets, mini iPads) that teachers can use offline, supplementing our face to face training. I’ll have online access until Feb 18th to install and then I’ll be offline as I’ll be traveling and be in the village when it will be difficult to connect.

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Hello, I’m a PhD student at Brigham Young University. I am on a team working to get up to $38k funding from BYU to distribute and implement proven educational technologies. We are looking to implement RACHEL in a number of secondary schools in Tanzania. I would love to learn from your pilot study and anything else you have done since then. Could we be in contact?

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hello – you can get in touch with our Tanzanian chapter leader @jseni – we also have some impact reports available which i can try to get posted for you. @NicoleC – do we have those on the web anywhere?

That would be great to see your impact reports! Thanks @jeremy eremy and @NicoleC

Hi all, we took the old impact reports down as they were quite outdated. However, we are expecting two really good new impact reports soon! One from our chapter in Guatemala, and one from our chapter in Sierra Leone. I’ll share them here when they are ready, and add them to our website.

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Hello, I have been in contact with Emily Ostler, a PhD student from BYU. I hope you are in the same group. She has requested for some support to select schools for your study. I am working on that

Feel free to contact me anytime for support.

That is very true and in addition to that owners of school love to see and hear from their students why the technology useful and suitable for them. Let the students convince parents and owners of school(potential buyer) to buy for them and not a third person. (the bond between the teacher/parents and students is stronger than with the third person) I used the tactics and found that it works.

The duty of the sales person is to demonstrate modules that we interest the user. Students love to see automation and magic (example their exercises marked by computer, telling them remotely how many exercises they have done/ or how many video viewed and their point)

Kids when they are tired, switch activities to something like a game/ puzzle or storybook. I did the programming puzzle (maze) and they were very excited. Did not tell them how to use the program, they automatically catch up by trial and move from one level to another.

ALL IN ALL, SELLING REQUIRES TO READ THE MIND OF THE BUYER.

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Hi @jltwilkinson Sorry delay in replying to your message - just recently returned from Tanzania and catching up.
Looks like you/the BYU team has gotten help from reading above thread.

If still interested in reaching out or for more info can go to our project website http://www.preciousproject.org/ICT-Project.html (unfortunately outdated as completely rebuilding our entire website; goes live couple of weeks and there will be current info and more details on our technology for education and STEAM projects). Among the significant impact since we’ve begun these projects - our students are ranking #1 in their grades in the ward on Tanzania’s national exam

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Am really encouraged by this approach. Its very practical and insightful

HI Nicole
I am starting to look into documentation of the impact that RACHEL has had. Can you please let me know if these impact reports are completed.

Thanks

Luke

Hi Luke, I just returned from maternity leave–I’ll check on these impact reports and get back to you!

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Good suggestions, much appreciated.

Hi LumaiM and everyone,

I’m excited to share two wonderful impact reports that have recently been completed by our chapter in Guatemala, Mundo Posible and our partners 60 Million Girls and Cause Canada in Sierra Leone. They are now available (in Spanish and English) on our website at: https://worldpossible.org/impact-reports.

These two reports are particularly interesting because they use two very different approaches to bringing RACHEL into schools: in Guatemala, our staff spends quite a lot of time with the teachers, training them to incorporate RACHEL technology and content into their classrooms. In Sierra Leone, all RACHEL learning takes place outside of the classroom, where students can explore without guidance from teachers or other adults. These two approaches both suit the local needs and challenges, explained in more detail in the reports.

Best of all, both demonstrate very promising results, with middle school students using RACHEL showing very significant gains in both math and reading over those without RACHEL.

Thanks,
Nicole

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Hi NicoleC

Thank you so much for sharing the experiences and two approaches RACHEL technology was used in the two countries (Guatemala and Sierra Leone). I am planning to do a trial in my country, with the same approach as in Sierra Leone.

Kind regards
Peter

@jltwilkinson, I know this is about a year late, but I’m wondering if that BYU team or that initiative to “implement proven educational technologies” is still around. We may have some collaboration opportunities (speaking for another non-profit). I’ll provide contact information once you respond to this. Thanks!

@Norman – I beleive @chrissyvail7 might be connected to that BYU project.

Yes, you can reach out to me a about BYU. My email is chrissyvail@churchofjesuschrist.org

I am new to Rachel Device, Am interested in it. I am in PNG working with NGO, TFI. How and where can I buy the Rachel Plus.

Regards,