This year has been a challenge on many levels but there have been silver linings, and most of them are shining out of the tech quarter. We’re excited to further explore everything we’ve learned this year about digital delivery of coursework. It’s been a game-changer during COVID time and will continue to make a measurable impact in the years ahead.
At the Dorms in Siem Reap, five students in grade 12 remained in residence during school closures and it is there that we first launched a pilot using Koompi laptops.
We’ve launched Google Classroom and devoted volunteer Pat sent the students research projects from California. Through this process they are being handed the keys to an easier time in University. They are also learning to navigate google docs and apply their MS Office skills. In addition, students have access to Koompi Academy (Khmer Language “Khan Academy”) and are helping us evaluate other resources for broadcasting to the general population. Students type up assigned coursework and digitally deliver it back to teachers. They can join study groups all over Cambodia. They are sharing book reviews and learning how to use google map. Things are being added constantly.
The Siem Reap Dorms are where we gather our top students at grade 11 to prepare them for college. Not all our Uni students come from the Dorms, but all Dorm students go to University. It is therefore the perfect place to introduce a higher level of digital literacy. We found through a couple of years of student interviews that Life-Skills, English and computer literacy were the most valuable take-aways from their High School experience in terms of preparing them for being away from home at College. In response we had already ramped up English and the frequency and array of Life-Skills workshops. But there really was no way to ramp up tech without them having their own computers. And the internet.
Using the students at the Dorms as our test-bed, together we compiled a magical mix of resources to help students get the most out of a digital learning experience and then got it out into the field to our high school students who could only wring their hands wondering how they were going to access classes without the internet. Or devices.
Before COVID whenever our University Students returned home on holidays, they would volunteer to assist the high school students with their extra studies as well as provide other forms of mentorship in their home villages to help the next generation achieve their goals. During school closures when all our university students had been furloughed and returned home from Phnom Penh, they were absolutely indispensable as PLF scrambled to quickly begin broadcasting online classes to our high school students in the bush. Without them, we could not have responded in the way we did, nor would we have gotten the same level of very granular feedback from students, which shaped the way classes were delivered and helped us determine the best mix of resources.
Their tasks were to:
- Make the schedules
- Queue the lessons
- Facilitate comms with government teachers when the exercises given needed to be uploaded
- Manage group exercises and homework
- Answer questions during the classes or help research the answers
- Keep everyone positive and moving forward!
Some interesting feedback surfaced in the constant stream of surveys given to the students and their facilitators when they reported that the online classes were every bit as instructional as the extra tutoring classes we have been paying for for years. (High School Scholarships) They proved it when they went back to school and after 6 months absent, they had no trouble with classwork. Indeed, some of their scores were up.
Moving forward we’ll be exploiting what we’ve learned to the max and be doing things we have only ever dreamed of just a very short time ago. Our ability to respond quickly to the challenges our students faced when they were sent home from school, saved hundreds of PLF students from having to repeat a grade of high school and introduced us to our road ahead.
The importance of this silver lining cannot be overstated.
School has been in session only a short while at the time of this writing and we’re sure it will close again in due course, then open again, then close. Nevermind. We’re ready. eLearning kits consisting of a big karaoke speaker, a projector, a screen, an android phone with a 3G sim card and some black out curtains are at all locations and while we’re in session we’ll use them to deliver extra classes where that makes sense. When school closes, we’ll ramp right back up to full broadcast of classes.
“It has been a few months that I have been volunteering leading G12 E-learning for PLF. I feel very happy and be proud to share what I have learned and transfer to the younger generation. During that time, it was so happy but also some challenges that we faced. For example with finding exercise, explain the lessons which have been taught from apps, leading them to have self-study and encouraging them. In my mind, 70-80 percent that the G12 group can understand from the lesson. Also by doing this, it’s really helpful to develop my own skills and also recall my previous knowledge too. What really makes me happier is that the G12 group is friendly and warmly welcome to ask us to share the life in the university which could help them to prep for their turn. That makes me so happy to see smiling on their face when they ask a lot of questions, then when I ask back “Are you ready”, the sound “Yes” comes at the same time. I would give a big credit to PLF for providing all this opportunity for us even we can’t go to school. Yeah, studying online is fun! “
The student’s determination literally reshaped the execution strategy of the Ponheary Ly Foundation from the ground up. We will forever be in their debt as literally thousands of students will directly benefit from their extraordinary efforts in 2020. We’re proud, and ready for what’s to come.