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The Shikkhok Project Building an Ultra-low cost Crowdsourced MOOC for Non-English Speaking Students in South Asia Ragib Hasan Assistant.

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Presentation on theme: "The Shikkhok Project Building an Ultra-low cost Crowdsourced MOOC for Non-English Speaking Students in South Asia Ragib Hasan Assistant."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Shikkhok Project Building an Ultra-low cost Crowdsourced MOOC for Non-English Speaking Students in South Asia Ragib Hasan Assistant Professor University of Alabama at Birmingham and Founder – The Shikkhok project 2013 ISIF Award Winner for Innovations in Education Winner 2013 Google RISE Award

2 (pronounced Shik-khok), is a Bengali language word that means, literally, “teacher; One who educates” The Shikkhok Project The Shikkhok Project |

3 Shikkhok’s Teachers Shikkhok was founded on August 1, 2012, by Dr. Ragib Hasan, a computer scientist and professor from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, originally from Bangladesh. Shikkhok’s volunteer teachers include Bengali speaking researchers, educators, and professionals/experts in various fields, who are spread all across the world. * All of Shikkhok’s contents are available for free under CC license The Shikkhok Project |

4 How to change the world with little investment (using the power of the Internet and Crowds)? Low-income and rural students in South Asia with limited knowledge of English do not have access to quality education. How can we provide top-quality education at a very low cost to the millions of students in rural Bangladesh and India? The Shikkhok Project |

5 Bengali is the 4 th largest language in terms of native speakers (250- 300 million speakers in Bangladesh and India) Students in rural areas often do not have access to quality teachers, books, or good schools. Higher education opportunities and content is scarce in Bangladesh and India – Only 50,000 opening in Bangladeshi universities and colleges for incoming freshmen, while there are more than 300,000 eligible students – Many students drop out due to lack of cheap higher education opportunities or extreme poverty Background The Shikkhok Project |

6 Shikkhok’s solution Develop a highly localized MOOC with a hybrid Internet-non Internet-based dissemination model Use the crowdsourcing model for both content development, deployment, and marketing, spending as little as possible The Shikkhok Project |

7 Who we are? Educators: Volunteers spread all around the world who are passionate about sharing their knowledge in native languages Students: Underprivileged students facing language and technological barriers The Shikkhok Project |

8 Information Technology to the rescue … While regular computing devices are not common/affordable in rural areas, Mobile phones and hence Mobile internet have significantly high penetration in Bangladesh, even in rural areas (100 million mobile subscribers as of early 2013, in a 160 million population) A mobile-optimized Bengali language MOOC can serve as an alternative education platform for rural and non- traditional students And an innovative non-Internet based delivery mechanism can allow rural students with no Internet access to get high quality education The Shikkhok Project |

9 Why reinvent the wheel? Because, Existing MOOCs are not enough has 709 courses, 86% are provided in English language The Khan Academy’s excellent online educational videos are also originally created in English Unfortunately, Bengali translation/voiceovers of Khan Academy’s videos are not popular among the students in Bangladesh and India (most video lessons have an average of only 100-120 views in 1 year. Example: ). Anecdotal reasons include mismatch between the lessons and academic syllabus in Bangladesh/India, cultural mismatch/”lost in translation”/artificial and literal translation – As a comparison,’s Culinary arts course videos received an average of 300+ views within 1 week of publication ( But don’t just take my word for it, let’s see some numbers. The Shikkhok Project |

10 Students in Bangladesh overwhelmingly prefer Bengali over English (59% vs. 17%) Q: Which language do you prefer for a MOOC course? (N=344) The Shikkhok Project |

11 Preferred language for MOOCs Graduate degree Higher Secondary (equiv. US High School) Undergraduate degree Preference for MOOCs in native language compared to English is the highest among high schoolers (5.13 times), followed by undergrads (3.7 times), and graduate students/degree holders (2.63 times) The Shikkhok Project |

12 Preference for Bengali is consistently higher in all age groups 13-18 19-24 25-34 35+ The Shikkhok Project |

13 Students prefer locally developed Bengali lectures over dubbed content Q: Do you prefer lectures to be dubbed from English to Bengali, or locally/organically developed by Bengali speaking teachers? (N=344) Students have very little preference for MOOCs created via dubbing English videos to Bengali. The Shikkhok Project |

14 Project Requirements Education medium must be in Bengali Content must be highly optimized for mobile phone browsers with limited and slow data plans Lessons must be short, include both text and multimedia, and have easy-to-use student registration, feedback, and evaluation schemes Must be highly-available, low access times even in Bangladesh and India Must be designed, delivered, and publicized at a very low cost, and provided to students for free Must not depend only on the Internet to deliver content. The Shikkhok Project |

15 Identifying the Challenges Technical: Identifying the best tools and design principles Team: Organizing and coordinating a distributed team Stakeholder: Getting effective feedback and attention information from the users The Shikkhok Project |

16 Identifying the Challenges Cost: Popular MOOCs such as have millions of dollars in venture capital funding. – Coursera itself has $22 million funding – Such funding is unlikely for educating rural students in Bangladesh and India – Marketing/advertising such a site to the masses is also expensive. The Shikkhok Project |

17 Identifying the Challenges? Overcoming the language barrier: Students with limited English language proficiency cannot utilize existing MOOCs such as edX, udacity, or Coursera, so how do we ensure maximum impact for such students? Finding teachers: How to gather teachers with the right expertise and technical know-how? Reaching stakeholders: How to publicize and deploy content to the intended audience? The Shikkhok Project |

18 The Shikkhok Solution Explore Human Computer Interaction principles and methods to effectively reach the rural students Take extreme penny-pinching measures to develop the platform at a low cost Use social media marketing strategies to publicize the service to the target audience Utilize non-Internet based supply chains to deliver content to the rural students The Shikkhok Project |

19 Design Strategies Design – Use an iterative model for creating the most effective user interface which has to be mobile friendly, less-graphics intensive, and suitable for both smart and non-smart cell-phone browsing – Follow a User Centric Design methodology by constantly evaluating user responses to lessons and modifying teaching tools accordingly The Shikkhok Project |

20 Design Strategies Development – Use rapid prototyping and design methods to develop courses (lessons and lectures augmented per user feedback and view counts) – Use ultra-low cost and open source tools in a crowdsourced model – Use Social Media marketing for free, leverage the power of cloud to distribute content The Shikkhok Project |

21 Design Strategies Evaluation: – For evaluation of lecture style and content, measure user responsiveness and attention span for each lecture (use webpage stats to calculate how long users stayed at each lecture page, how many users came back to view further lectures, i.e. user retention) – Measure user engagement by correlating lecture views with participation in quizzes associated with lectures The Shikkhok Project |

22 (Ultra-cheaply) Designing Over summer 2012, we rapidly developed platform Total development cost: only US $15.00 Total number of registered students (first 6 months) = 20,000 That is, cost per registered student = US $0.00075 only! Total number of courses designed = 55 4500 lecture views per day, from 3000 unique visitors The Shikkhok Project |

23 (Ultra-cheaply) Designing To minimize development costs – – Adapted open source CMS (Wordpress) to provide authoring platform – Mobile-optimized front end – Host all media/videos on free online repositories such as Youtube, Dropbox, imgur – Use Google forms and embedded scripts to automate user registration and MCQ quiz processing Cost: Domain name: $5/year, 100 MB low-cost host: $10/year (Development (mostly wordpress theme tweaking) done by one volunteer for free) The Shikkhok Project |

24 (Ultra-cheaply) Designing Site design and graphics: Crowdsourced via Social network contacts (received 5 submission from a volunteer within a few hours of request on Facebook) The Shikkhok Project |

25 Insight: Social Media is extremely effective Getting content and volunteers To gather a team of volunteer teachers: – I posted a request on Facebook – 10 volunteers signed up in 1 day – Two courses were developed by day 2 – By week 2, 5 courses were running – By week 8, 15 courses were started – By month 8, 25 courses running, with 5 courses completed – After 24 months, 55 courses have been developed The Shikkhok Project |

26 Design principles and strategies for online education via a mobile phone Plain text (not multimedia) is still the king of content – Users of mobile phones have to pay per-KB, so less images is better – For videos, youtube based low-res streams and downloadable 3gp formats work the best The Shikkhok Project |

27 Reaching rural students: An Innovative Distribution Channel A major challenge was to create a non- Internet based distribution channel to reach rural students without Internet access Solution: Develop innovative distribution channels. The Shikkhok Project |

28 Innovative Distribution Channels: Using existing Social Interactions Our Approach: Approach 1: Videos in Mobile Bazaars Create short 3gp version videos; put a collection of courses on USB sticks, give out to phone vendors/shops in rural bazaars. Students visiting the bazaars can load the videos on their phones for free or for a nominal fee (charged by the vendors, not us) (We found this model to be very useful, as rural bazaar phone shops are already used as a distribution hub for music videos/songs, and people are used to going there to load videos on their phones) The Shikkhok Project |

29 Innovative Distribution Channels: Using existing Social Interactions Approach 2: Cable TV partnerships Partner with local cable TV distributors, persuade them to create a channel for Shikkhok’s videos The operators were happy to do this for free, as they were getting the content from us for free For long term sustainability, the operators could even charge a small amount of money per month to subscribers This helps distribute Shikkhok’s videos to the homes of students even in rural areas The Shikkhok Project |

30 Innovative Distribution Channels: Cheap compute boards for Shikkhok Kits Approach 3: Raspberry Pi based Shikkhok Kits – Use ultra-cheap Raspberry PI computers (Each Pi costs only $35) – We put a large number of courses on SD cards on each PI, add a donated keyboard, mouse, and ship this to rural schools. (No internet needed, we preload everything on the SD cards, and make a kiosk-like interface easy for even non-computer users) – The schools can hook the Pis directly with regular TVs, and have the video lectures delivered to students The Shikkhok Project |

31 Solutions - User engagement strategies that work … To engage users in easy discussion, integration with existing social networks is the best strategy: – Using wordpress native commenting: about 2/3 comments per lecture – Using Facebook comments: at least 50 “like” and 5-10 comments, questions per lecture The Shikkhok Project |

32 Solutions - Marketing strategies: utilizing social media Social media based “free” marketing campaigns worked very well Did not use regular advertisements, rather used Facebook and Twitter to publicize Shikkhok Got 3000 fans on its Facebook page within a few days Each lecture announcement is viewed approx. by 4200 people within one hour or so (stats via FB Insight) Total fans as of August 11, 2014: 30,000 Anecdote: We found there is an “optimal” time for our Facebook shares – 10.30 pm on weekdays! The Shikkhok Project |

33 What we have achieved We demonstrated that localized strategies work better than globalized universal MOOCs (local language based and cultural context-aware content is more effective) E.g., Unlike Khan Academy Bangla, we did not translate existing MOOCs, rather developed localized content from scratch, which turned out to be more useful to students. (our video lectures viewed many times more than the translated content) The Shikkhok Project |

34 What we have achieved We developed a set of tried-and-tested design principles for educational content delivery over mobile internet to rural students Evaluated various site design and lecture content to determine the best possible strategy and content formats that serve the mobile-internet-using rural students The Shikkhok Project |

35 What we have achieved Our user centric design and constant feedback/evaluation loops allowed us to detect strategies that work (mobile optimized video, Facebook Integration) and that do not work (e.g. live sessions with teachers using Google HangOut) Constant user engagement strategy allowed us to improve our lecture content (lectures with lower user retention/attention span are re- written/developed) The Shikkhok Project |

36 What we have achieved: A micro- lesson model that YOU can use Our biggest contribution is the generalized set of design and evaluation principles for the development of a localized micro-lesson model that can be effectively used by e-learning systems in other languages in other parts of the developing world. The Shikkhok Project |

37 The results? Some numbers … The Shikkhok Project |

38 Results – some numbers … Since it’s start on August 1, 2012, has – 55 online courses on diverse topics such as Bioinformatics, Neuroscience, Computer Programming, Finance 101, Calculus, Cloud Computing, Cancer Nanotechnology – Total number of students registered for all courses: 80,000 (actual student count larger, unique visitor count>500k, since registration isn’t mandatory) The Computer Security101 course alone has 4000 registered students – Total number of quizzes/tests taken: 100,000 The Shikkhok Project |

39 Results – some numbers … Total unique visitor count in in 24 months: 1.2 million Total lecture views in 24 months: 3.80 million 80% visitors are from rural Bangladesh, using mobile phone browsers is getting 5000-6000 unique visitors a day The Shikkhok Project |

40 Quarterly Visitor data as for 2012-2014 The Shikkhok Project |

41 Results, that matter is the first e-learning MOOC site in Bengali language, completely free and open for everyone Students from rural Bangladesh and India regularly contact us to express their satisfaction: – “I wanted to study Computer Science, but had to drop out of school due to poverty. has given me the chance to enter the wonderful world of computer science once again” – testimony from a user from Jamalpur, Bangladesh The Shikkhok Project |

42’s Awards Winner of 2013 Google RISE Award Winner of 2013 Award for Innovation in Learning and Localization Winner of 2013 Deutsche Welle Best of Blogs and Online Innovation Award Winner of 2013 Internet Society Community Grant The Shikkhok Project |

43 Future goals To create a complete set of science courses for grade 6-10 of Bangladeshi school curriculum – Project timeline: 2014-2015 – Technical content development began from May 2014 – Content distribution and pilot studies in several Bangladeshi schools: September 2014-June 2015. To create a complete set of math courses for grade 5-12 of Bangladeshi highschool and college curriculum (Fall 2014) Reach at least 200,000 students and 100 schools by the end of 2015 The Shikkhok Project |

44 Summary: What did we learn from Lesson 1: It is possible to design successful MOOC e-learning sites at ultra-cheap cost via an altruistic volunteer model (Shikkhok cost only $15 to develop and deploy compared to millions for many MOOCs) Lesson 2: Attention to HCI design principles such as user centric design can allow better retention of users and improved attention to content Lesson 3: To reach rural students, focus should be more on non- Internet based textual content designed for low-bandwidth mobile phone browsers Lesson 4: Localized, native language education is more successful than the one-course-fits-all approach by many well-known MOOC sites The Shikkhok Project |

45 Ending thought? (My X) Educating millions using ultra-low-cost Technology IS possible The Shikkhok Project |

46 To view in action Please visit: http://www.shikkhok.com The Shikkhok Project |

47 Thank You! Questions?? The Shikkhok Project |

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