Extending Digital Literacy and English Skills Through New Technology in Cambodia
Goal: Strengthening the capacity of the local education nonprofit Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) to enhance the quality of their programs by integrating digital resources and technology-assisted tools.
Background: JWOC’s mission is to reduce poverty levels in Cambodia by increasing educational and economic opportunities for 800 underserved students per year through their free classes program. The classes focus on teaching English, technology, science and art, and they are taught by university students who receive full scholarships from JWOC in exchange for six to eight hours of teaching per week. Through this process, JWOC is able to not only assist the scholarship students directly with the cost of their education, but also develop their skills, work experience, teaching and leadership capabilities more broadly. In November 2014, nine volunteers from VMware had set up a new computer lab, with 26 PCs and new software to help students learn English, as well as technology to advance science and art classes. The new computer lab helped JWOC students build their English and digital literacy skills, but was not large enough to accommodate use by all of JWOC’s 800 students each week.
Project: In March 2016, Team4Tech immersed 10 volunteers from enterprise software company Box in the educational landscape of Siem Reap, Cambodia. This second Team4Tech project with JWOC deepened their commitment to technology as a tool for learning. During this two week project, Team4Tech volunteers:
- Extended the reach of technology into the classrooms, with the purchase of 25 student tablets, five teacher laptops, and four projectors.
- Assisted teachers in developing creative problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills among their students – skills that are vital for securing gainful employment in the rapidly globalizing economy of Siem Reap.
The JWOC teachers weren’t the only ones hoping to integrate technology into their work! Another important element of the project was developing a more collaborative file management policy and an improved student information management system for JWOC staff to track the performance of their students over time and optimize enrollment in their free classes. With donated licenses from Airtable, the Team4Tech volunteers:
- Configured a new system for JWOC that dramatically improves on data governance with data type control and references between data objects, mobility with native mobile apps, and security control to provide proper access.
The new system successfully replaced six silo spreadsheets and paper forms, combining them into one cohesive data model with eight objects and 2,000 records.
After two weeks of hard work, one of the Box volunteers reflected: “We started a conversation, and they are going to finish it.”