What is Success?

Here at Team4Tech, we’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what success looks like and how to measure it. Our mission is to improve the quality of education with technology and technology volunteers, and we’ve completed 10 projects in the past two years with over 100 amazing volunteers, reaching 10,000 students and teachers in 7 countries. But how do we know if we are really making a difference for those we serve?

We’ve defined five impact categories (see below) that are important for improving teaching and learning, and a list of sample metrics for each category. We are working with our partner organizations to select the most relevant indicators for each project, collect baseline data for their desired beneficiaries and a control group, and collect impact data at the end of each year. Monitoring and evaluation will take time, but we are eagerly analyzing the data as it comes in.

While we love the frameworks and data, it is particularly gratifying when we get to see the human stories behind the numbers. This week I was thrilled to see a Facebook post from our NGO partner in Cambodia, Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC), sharing the story of one of their graduating English students, Leau (photo below). The post explained that Leau is moving on to her dream job of becoming a math teacher, in her words to “share my knowledge with poor children and help them to contribute to their country rather than have others look down on them.”

When our team of volunteers was in Cambodia with JWOC last November, a few of us toured the local slum served by their program and asked ourselves some tough questions about whether our efforts were focusing on the areas of greatest return. Could we be doing more to help? Were technology and English skills a luxury for children plagued by an unstable environment and malnourishment?

We concluded that digital literacy and English were the most marketable skills in Siem Reap, and we hoped that the new English language learning software and computer lab we had installed would help the students acquire these skills more effectively. You can imagine our delight when we read Leau’s words in the Facebook post, saying that learning English in the lab was her favorite part of the classes at JWOC, since she was able to learn to type and practice English at the same time. So nice to put a human face on success!