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Teaching Early Literacy through Mobile Learning Interventions in Cambodia

June 6, 2018

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development recently published an external evaluation and blog post about World Education’s mobile learning interventions to improve early literacy teaching and learning in Cambodia.

The primary focus of the independent evaluation was the mobile learning (m-learning) component of Total Reading Approach for Children Plus (TRAC+) and specifically, the use of Aan Khmer, a game-based Android application developed by World Education to help children learn Khmer alphabetical principles, vocabulary, and fluency in low resource environments. The seven-month evaluation set out to answer the question, “How and to what extent does the integration of m-learning in TRAC+ enhance the literacy of early grade students?” Using a mixed method approach, the researchers collected and analyzed data from: a collective case study of 15 schools alongside the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and School-based Test About Reading (STAR), 73 individual interviews with school faculty and students, and 27 focus group interviews with students or peer tutors.

Results were positive overall and found that:

  • Children in Grades 2 and 3 who used the app more than one hour per week on average scored significantly higher in several subtasks of the Early Grade Reading Assessment, notably Reading Fluency, Comprehension and Word Recognition subtasks, than children in schools with lower use of the app;
  • Over 93% of School Directors reported that the Aan Khmer app was very useful for helping struggling students improve their reading;  
  • Multiple regression analysis indicated that several factors other than the use of the app appeared to influence the EGRA results, with the strongest influences being: children being permitted to take library books home and schools having multi-grade classrooms;
  • Teachers and students held positive views of TRAC+ and its m-learning component.

A girls plays a reading game on a tablet in a classroom in Cambodia.

M-learning is one component of World Education’s integrated approach to early-grade reading instruction in Cambodia, which also includes:

"Aan Khmer really helps children learn to read because it is designed with pictures and sounds which enable them to practice and learn better… I have observed that students have progressed with their reading. In the past, students in Grades 1 and 2 did not know how to read properly, and since TRAC+ has been implemented, many of these students, more than 60%, are able to read better." - Participating School Director

Through World Education’s Aan Khmer and TEST apps and other ICT-enabled resources and approaches, educators and learners are engaged and empowered. Teachers apply their training in the classroom, educating and encouraging students using interactive reading games and other engaging tools that are improving literacy skills in Cambodia. Learn more about how World Education is augmenting its early grade reading programming with ICT-enabled approaches and tools in Cambodia.

Through these various interventions, students receive the targeted, personalized instruction that they need to strengthen their Khmer literacy and reading skills.

Note: The evaluation was conducted by a team of researchers from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Western Australia under the Digital Learning for Development (DL4D) project of the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FIT-ED) of the Philippines. More information is provided in the final report.