This year, our annual conference took place on November 12th at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. Of the approximately 160 guests who attended, there were students from Collège Sainte-Anne, Collège Reine-Marie and Beaconsfield High School, as well as many of our partners.
Before the conference, two students, Charlie Twigg and Laura Massi, recent graduates of Collège Saint-Anne, showed their innovative project that they and six other students had set up in Nepal to combat chronic illiteracy. These secondary 5 students created an education centre, complete with library, computers and the RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning), which would provide a wealth of educational material to the Nepalese students.
Our president, Wanda Bedard, described our Mobile Learning Lab’s remarkable journey from an idea to its inception. In 2013, during a trip to Sierra Leone, Wanda witnessed firsthand that, for children living in remote rural communities where over-crowded classes have few educational materials and whose teachers are often lacking in training, a quality education is out of reach. To bridge the gap, the Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) was born: a tool that provides students offline access to a wide range of open source learning tools. Remarkably, it is a tool that can be used by the students themselves without direction from teachers or other adults.
Wanda was able to report on the success of our two-year project in northern Sierra Leone. 750 students from grades 4, 5 and 6 in five communities used the MLL in two-hour sessions after school every week for a period of 8 months. Participation was voluntary and the children had to get to the MLLs on their own. The results of this study were very exciting! The students’ literacy and math scores improved and their participation and motivation in class significantly increased. The MLL proved what we had believed: given the right tools, children can learn on their own.
Our guest speaker, Taylor Thompson shared the path taken by Curious Learning to improve literacy. Taylor leads partnerships at Curious Learning, building collaborations to develop new products and reach new users. Curious Learning is a non-profit organization, that builds and distributes free mobile software to help kids learn to read. Taylor showed us the evolution of the apps, such as Feed the Monster, that allow children to learn basic reading skills on their own. This extraordinary literacy app has been translated into more than 50 languages around the world.
At the end of the evening, we launched our 10-day matching donation campaign. At the end of the campaign, we had raised over $21,000 – far surpassing our objective of $10,000!
We are very grateful for the generosity of our many friends and supporters who made both the evening and the doubling campaign so successful. Thank you!