With large, free eLibraries of educational content available that anyone, anywhere can download onto a computer, there is tremendous potential for increased access to educational resources. However, in many cases this information can be overwhelming for a student to use without the support of a guide to help work through challenging concepts and remain encouraged to keep learning. Accelerating Education Initiative (AEI) pairs coaches with students via virtual coaching sessions with the goal of inspiring students to learn from their available resources and, as Professor Sugata Mitra suggests, from each other.
What Coaches Do
Volunteer coaches support our pilot program in Afghanistan by spending about one hour per week with Afghan Child Education and Care Organizations (AFCECO) students via an online video connection to help them learn and provide them with encouragement.
Volunteer coaches develop lesson plans with their students to help meet the students’ needs. To prepare for lessons, coaches and students can determine which videos would be most helpful for the student to review, and both can preview the selected video lessons online at KhanAcademy.org or offline through the KA-Lite eLibrary. To monitor students’ performance, coaches use KA-Lite’s administrative control panel to view activity and conduct KA-Lite evaluations designed to match content reviewed in videos. AFCECO students will also soon have access to a large eLibrary assembled by WorldPossible.org called RACHEL. The online version can be viewed at http://rachel.worldpossible.org/, which is the exact copy of the offline version students in Afghanistan will have access to. To help foster excitement and enthusiasm for learning among students, coaches incorporate some of the approaches advocated by Professor Sugata Mitra in his presentation called “The Future of Learning” at TED 2013.
How Coaching Works
How coaches and students communicate depends on the type of Internet service available. Often a very high-speed service is cost prohibitive. However, if a basic broadband service of at least 250k sustained upload and download rates is secured, then a sufficient quality video conference is usually possible. To reduce costs of Internet access fees and increase students’ user-experience, AEI recommends that all needed digital educational content be preloaded directly to the student computer’s hard drive in an eLibrary. This content is also available online for coaches to access.
Contending with Challenges to Reliable Internet Access
If Internet service is not reliable, we recommend that more than one source of Internet be combined into one in the event that one of these Internet sources drops during a coaching session. To prevent other computers on the same network from using too much of the available bandwidth during a coaching session, we recommend the computer used for the video conferencing be provided with priority bandwidth. As well, if power isn’t reliable, a substantial power backup system should be included to prevent the system from shutting down due to loss of supplied power. The Conferencing eStation with Education eLibrary (CeSEL) by Think Renewables (TR) includes all of these features.
Want to Coach?
As we expand our pilot program to other educational institutions, we’ll be accepting more applications for coaching positions with AEI. Check back soon for updates! You can also visit our Volunteer page for more information about other opportunities with AEI.