Case Study: iSchool – Revolutionizing Education in Zambia!

Last month, FluidSurveys put out  a call to all our customers asking them to share the projects they are working on using our survey software. This month, we are excited to feature our long time customer Kylie Hutchinson; a Canadian evaluator currently working in Zambia to evaluate iSchool.

Listen to the podcast and read more information below.

Evaluating iSchool

iSchool is a social enterprise revolutionizing how education is delivered in Zambia. They are committed to evaluation and demonstrating an impact. iSchool is taking the standard Zambian curriculum and upgrading it to a higher level by:

  • Developing a total e-learning environment, consisting of laptops, printers, internet connection, and teacher support;
  • Offering complete lesson plans in 7 national languages; and
  • Making teaching more interactive and engaging.

iSchool has been running grade 1 and 2 programs in 8 pilot schools in Zambia  for two years. Kylie and her team of 10 research assistants are evaluating 800 children in urban and rural schools, and assessing their learning in 3 areas: literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills. Being a social enterprise, this evaluation is critical to the success of the program, and its timeliness cannot be understated!

“Donors have indicated a strong interest in iSchool, and as soon as I walked in the door I was told we needed evidence now. So any step that I can take to streamline our data collection process with 800 kids is extremely valuable to me because I need that data up and into SPSS as soon as possible.” Kylie Hutchinson

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Researcher Elliot Shakemba assessing an iSchool pupil using FluidSurveys.

Using FluidSurveys in the Field

Kylie first started using FluidSurveys by manually entering in data collected from paper surveys in the field. She found this an effective way to reduce data entry error, but it was not the most efficient solution.

“We assessed 800 children in both iSchool and non-iSchool comparison schools matching them on various factors…we  had paper surveys and we used FluidSurveys for the data entry. The reason why we did that is because in the past data entry was done in Excel, and we know that the potential for errors in data entry increases phenomenally when you’re using Excel. So we used the FluidSurveys platform and set up some parameters so I could take people who weren’t professionals at data entry…and have them input the data from the paper surveys into FluidSurveys. I felt I was already reducing the incidents for errors in data entry. Plus I just loved the way that I could download our raw data to Excel and SPSS.” – Kylie Hutchinson 

With FluidSurveys mobile-optimized surveys, her research team now enters data directly into a tablet and uploads the results in real time. This move has cut down costs, reduced errors, and saved a lot of time.

“While we were out in the field for 3 weeks, I had one of my research assistants working with a small tablet… All of the iSchools have Internet, so I had my research assistant sitting down with one of the pupils we were assessing, but instead of using a paper and having to bring that paper back to the office, I had him do it directly onto the tablet. That saves us photocopying costs, and it also saves us from having data entry people, and so it reduces the errors because there is one less step that it has to go through.”Kylie Hutchinson

iSchool pupils at Tico Community School in Lusaka, Zambia.


Next Steps

The iSchool program evaluation has already produced results showing a positive impact on children’s  reading, math, and critical thinking abilities. Kylie and her team are looking forward to another evaluation in January to collect baseline measures of cognitive skills for a new cohort of grade 1’s.

Kylie plans to move the whole data collection process into FluidSurveys and use the mobile version exclusively as a lightweight, versatile means to collect data. Here at FluidSurveys, we’re excited to be part of her team, and provide mobile-friendly question types and capabilities, as well as superior data protection of her important evaluations.

“In Canada we learned that with SurveyMonkey our data would be subject to the Homeland Security Act, which raises huge ethical issues for evaluators and protecting the confidentiality of data. So that’s a big reason why many Canadian evaluators are gravitating to FluidSurveys.”Kylie Hutchinson

More about iSchool

iSchool is a complete eLearning system for Zambian schools. It is centered around providing lesson plans for teachers and online interactive multimedia learning content for students all built around the Zambian curriculum. With the introduction of fun and exciting eLearning content (in English and 7 local languages for all early grades) and guidance for teachers towards interactive inquiry-based learning, iSchool provides everything necessary for schools to take up eLearning. This includes the learning content and plans, all necessary computer, networking and Internet equipment, power provision, teacher training, and full mentoring and support, delivered at minimal cost per student. In an age of change, iSchool aims to help students learn how to learn; where and how to find information; and acquire their own problem solving skills so that they become lifelong learners.

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Shannon McCluskey

Shannon is a marketing specialist at Fluidware. She is passionate about sharing knowledge on the latest survey insights and product features. Shannon is also very active in the local technology community, and mentors startups on marketing strategy.
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