Without instruction or guidance the children were able to pick up the devices and start learning!
Dev4X - Kenya Field Trip

During May and June we spent a great deal of time in East Africa field testing various approaches to self-directed, peer-to-peer learning.  We spent most of our time in Kibera, a large informal settlement near Nairobi.

Our goal was to work with a group of children that had no access to formal education and did not have access to schools or qualified teachers, and figure out how we can better empower them to take more of their learning into their own hands.

This is what we found:



360 degree video

One particular test required us to provide the children with the tablets but give them no instructions or guidance on how to use them. We wanted to see how children who have never used or seen these devices would get over the initial technological illiteracy hump and how they would then start to learn. We could have done this the traditional way by videotaping each child individually or by trying to walk around the room videoing interesting interactions but we did not want to be present in the room or in any way influence the way they reacted. We instead chose to record the whole room at once with a 360 degree video, which allowed us to leave the room, and still be able to record everything we needed. This also comes in handy when viewed through a VR headset (like Google Cardboard) as you can then easily focus your attention on an individual while still easily looking around as if you were there.

Watch a sample video here (low resolution): 

Usage: You can use your mouse to drag the video around, or if you have a VR headset you can use that to!


testing and results

Our testing took the following format:

  • Introductions: We started out with obtaining consent and introducing ourselves to the carers and children. 
  • Baseline: We then interviewed the children to understand their previous exposure to technology, what their schooling experience was like (If any), and how they currently learn. This interview created a base on which the rest of the testing would be measured against.
    • It turns out all of the children we were working with had no previous exposure to mobile technology and had almost no schooling. None of these children attended any formal education and none had spent any time with qualified teachers. 
  • Observations: We then provided the children with the tablets that included a number of apps and our own platform that we wanted to test. We did not give them any instructions or guidance on how to use them. We simply handed them the tablets and recorded what happened using our 360 degree camera —You can see a short low resolution snippet here.
    • We did this test with various different groups and it turned out that the younger children, those that are more curious and explorative were quicker to figure out how to turn on the devices and to start using them. However within an hour they were all up to speed, navigating the different apps and taking pictures with the cameras.
  • One-on-One user testing: We then conducted one on one user testing with the children while leaving the others to continue to play. We tested out the various concepts we wanted to get feedback on and we listened closely to what the children were saying they needed or found difficult or confusing.
    • It was interesting to learn how little literacy and numeracy skills they had and how we could not rely on any basic understanding of even icons to begin with. Their dexterity was too low for many of the apps and functions of the device, and the noise level was to high for any meaningful Voice recognition or audio instructions to be given. These are all inputs that are now helping us further design appropriate solutions. 
  • Academic assessment: We then ended off the session with an in depth one-on-one academic testing of the children using the UWEZO and EGRA/EGMA assessments.
    • The results of these tests showed how very little if any education these children are receiving. It also provided a baseline that we can measure against for later assessments.

Where to from here:

We are now taking our learnings and building the next iteration of our platform and will field test again in a few weeks. This rapid iteration and development with a child centred design approach is how we are continually learning and developing inline with what the children need.