‘What we’ve built with the University of Ghana may only be a first step, but the results and the traction we’ve gained are more than encouraging. We’re not stopping here.’
Miora Randriambeloma, the Malagasy co-founder of Chalkboard Education reflects on the work she and Adrien Bouillot (who moved to Ghana after finishing his studies at Sciences Po Paris) have achieved with their team since launching Chalkboard Education in 2015.
‘UNESCO says 150 million people on the continent will be of age to enrol at university by 2030 but infrastructures and technologies are not adapting fast enough to meet the demand.’
They launched Chalkboard Education to speed up the process. The mobile-learning app intends to give students access to university courses offsite, on any kind of mobile phone and without the internet. They complete assignments on their mobiles and professors can then track their activity live via a SMS and USSD-based dashboard.
‘It’s about delivering content through the most inclusive technology, so that we can put everyone on board. That is the only way we can make ACCESS to higher education easier, and that is why our Ghana-designed solution is fit to Africa.
‘At such a large scale, e-learning is a great solution – but the current systems are not adapted to power outages and unreliable or expensive broadband connectivity.’
Miora is clearly happy with how it went: there was a ‘100 per cent retention rate’ among students at the University of Ghana during a pilot-run of the scheme and all students also handed their assignments in on time – and passed.
‘This is amazing, considering the fact that in Africa, one student out of two fails with current e-learning solutions. We are particularly proud of the class’s great results: they scored an average of 23/25 at the midterm – which is much higher than the past year’s similar take-home paper exam.’
The beta course launched at the University of Ghana allowed Chalkboard Education to get feedback from actual students. While completing actual courses, they could inform Chalkboard of any hitches like codes not being received for upcoming assignments or issues arising if their phone breaks.
‘The app definitely made the students commit more every week, and I could see progress for every one of them, including those who usually work a minimum and submit their assessments late,’ said Dr. Agbefle, the professor running the beta course with his class, after the end of the semester.
And what does Miora want Chalkboard Education to achieve in the future?
‘We want to enable the students who use our app to obtain a real certified degree from their university. We are not yet another MOOC competing with local universities without delivering a real accreditation.’