An award-winning start-up is bringing technology and digitisation into the homework process to help teachers become more efficient in carrying out non-teaching activities, such as the preparation, distribution and marking of homework.
The brainchild of Christopher Pruijsen and Danielle Reid, through a combination of mobile phone GSM (no internet), Android and Web technologies, Sterio.me seeks to make learning and revision easy and accessible for students. But why is this needed?
The time teachers spend on preparing and marking homework is on average ten to twenty hours per week, enough to put many of them off giving homework in the first place, with clear negative ripple effects on students' learning outcomes, their repetition and dropout rates.
With large classroom sizes the norm in many countries in Africa – in Malawi, the average primary class size is 82 pupils - it is paramount that teachers can concentrate on teaching, rather than spending too long on tasks such as inputting already-marked grades. In South Africa teachers spend 18-30 percent of their time carrying out just this task. In Uganda for example, only about 45 percent of teachers' time is spent on teaching.
Mobile phone technology has been spreading rapidly in Africa, however with a 63 percent share of the market, basic phones still dominate the overall phone penetration on the continent. Sterio.me uses basic phone technology, such as SMS, to trigger an inbound voice call with a prerecorded interactive lesson – enabling out of classroom learning and revision. By using both SMS and Voice, Sterio.me can offer reading, writing, listening and speaking learning activities.
At the same time, a web-based teacher portal for classroom management, and a web-based content creation portal are also accessible from any smartphone, tablet or PC, helping teachers save time on their preparation, distribution, marking and administration tasks.
With education still a privilege for many children in developing countries, a tool that facilitates school attendance, helps increase learning and educational achievements, and reduces drop out and repetition rates can make a huge positive difference in the long-term chances of young people.
Winner of the 2014 UN World Summit Youth Award in “Education 4 All”, Sterio.me is currently being tested in Lesotho with further pilots planned also in Chile, Mauritius and Nigeria.
And here's a nice video explanation: