SchoolAsia.Org, a crowd-sourced teaching & learning resource

SchoolAsia.Org, a crowd-sourced teaching & learning resource

SingaporeSingapore
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

SchoolAsia.org is a crowd-sourced, carefully-curated free collection of lesson plans and commentaries to enrich education in Asia. Share an idea!

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Most teachers realise the need to foster independent, informed thinking among their students by sensitising them to current affairs, different cultures/ religions, and different perspectives. Unfortunately, many teachers in government-funded Asian schools lack the time/ resources to do this, due to: 1. Outdated textbooks/ curriculum 2. Inadequate knowledge/ time/ training/ internet access to create engaging, relevant current affairs lessons, featuring different perspectives 3. Censorship of certain perspectives (explicit/ self-imposed) 4. Lack of in-depth mutual understanding between and within countries in Asia, leading to stereotypes/ misrepresentations of each other * SchoolAsia.org's primary target are teachers in Asia who have internet access

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We will provide an online, free-access, crowd-sourced, carefully-curated storehouse of lesson plans and commentaries at SchoolAsia.org. It would: a) Leverage on the *community's expertise, acting as a connector/ enabler/ multiplier of good ideas, to provide pro-bono lesson plans for teachers on current issues of national/regional importance (Addressing Problems 1., 2.) *Contributors retain intellectual property rights and are credited in a byline. b) Aid classroom access to a diversity of views/ pedagogies (eg. encouraging empathic responses to diversity through role-play, bystander intervention, debate, problem-solving) through crowd-sourcing (with Editors ensuring objective critical thought, pedagogical quality control) (Addressing Problem 3.) c) Stimulate cross-cultural sharing, for greater cultural sensitivity/ understanding beyond national boundaries, interests (Addressing Problem 4.) d) Gather a community to discuss improvements to local/regional education systems
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

One current controversy in Singapore is the proposed partial destruction of Bukit Brown Cemetery for a road. It is difficult and time-consuming to construct a coherent narrative of events and factual arguments from a huge volume of disparate media reports. Furthermore, due to popular rhetoric, some teachers (mistakenly perceiving pro-conservation groups as anti-government) may choose to avoid the issue in class. However, two NGOs contributed lesson plans to objectively examine this dilemma between conservation and development. (See http://backtoschool.publichouse.sg/2012/all-lessons/conservation-development/) Teachers can easily use this lesson plan to engage students to understand and empathise* with different perspectives, and learn ways of constructive debate and conflict resolution. (*Further assessment needed to properly gauge lessons' effectiveness.) Teachers can easily find this lesson on the main page or by searching via Categories (Business, History, Environment, Politics, Society, Culture), Levels (Junior College/ Polytechnic), Activity (Debate, Discussion, Images, Quizzes, Role Play, Video) or tags (Conservation, Development, Future). A search function is also available. This example is from our pilot project (currently at http://backtoschool.publichouse.sg.) We envision SchoolAsia.Org functioning similarly, featuring crowd-sourced lesson plans/ commentaries to promote critical awareness of current issues and empathic understanding of diverse views.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are global lesson plan databases (eg. New York Times Learning Network, National Geographic etc), but these tend to be west-centric. They complement our site, but SchoolAsia.org will have a more local flavour, focusing on Asian current issues, or global affairs viewed through Asian lenses/ contexts. Locally, schools are also likely have internal resource-sharing systems. These resources can also be shared on our site. SchoolAsia.org aims to complement their good work by actively seeking out vibrant contribution from the wider local/regional community - with stringent editorial checks to ensure high-quality pedagogical control, accuracy and objective critical thought.
About You
Organization:
SchoolAsia.org
About You
First Name

Lisa

Last Name

Li

About Your Organization
Organization Name

SchoolAsia.org

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
Your role in Education

Teacher.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Innovation
How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

SchoolAsia.org is a crowd-sourced, carefully-curated free collection of lesson plans and commentaries to enrich education in Asia.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

Local crowd-sourcing + regional online idea-exchange + quality control = SchoolAsia.org, supporting teaching and learning in Asia.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Launched 1 Feb 2012, the pilot website (http://backtoschool.publichouse.sg/) has received over 35,000 views, 14 crowd-sourced lesson plans and 9 commentaries.

We are working with 9 NGOs, 3 enterprises, 2 arts companies and many individuals who wish to contribute pro-bono lesson plans or commentaries on improving education in Singapore. Editors ensure accuracy, objectivity, and pedagogical quality control.

Singapore Polytechnic and Singapore's National Institute of Education will be featuring the site as a resource for teachers. We have received a surprising amount of positive anecdotal feedback from teachers, and have been featured on Yahoo! Singapore (Feb 2012), even though the site hasn't yet been publicised by mainstream media or the Ministry of Education. We believe it will grow even more as word gets out.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

1) We aim to garner a steady stream of at least 6 new lesson plans or commentaries per month, per participating country.
2) All schools, NGOs, arts groups, social enterprises, interested individuals in the participating country would know of this site for their use and contribution.
3) We intend to expand to include a Country Editor for Singapore and at least 1 other Asian country, making contact with all education groups and the wider community to promote usage and crowd-sourced contributions.
4) We will conduct surveys/ focus group discussions to assess user-impact and website efficacy, for improvement

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

1) Unpredictable volume of contributions, which are pro-bono. To achieve a steady rate of 6 contributions per month, Country Editors should be prepared to research and create 4 new lesson plans/ commentaries per month, to supplement the crowd-sourced contributions.
2) Lack of quality control. Country Editors need to be stringent about the editorial process, and help refine the lesson plan to ensure objective critical thought/ sound pedagogy.
3) Lack of awareness among local agencies. We plan to contact teachers, schools and organisations directly to garner ground support. Country Editors should maintain good links with civil society/ local media.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

1) Total 36 lesson plans/ commentaries, 2) Develop expansion strategy for 1 other English-speaking Asian country (eg. Malaysia)

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Contact all 361 schools, as well as NGOs, social enterprises, arts groups etc in Singapore to encourage use and contribution.

Task 2

Develop systematic strategy to assess effectiveness of website, for improvement (eg. focus group discussions/ surveys).

Task 3

Develop strategy for expansion to 1 other English-speaking Asian country, including securing funding, developing SchoolAsia.Org

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

1) Total 72 lesson plans/ commentaries, 2) SchoolAsia.org extended beyond Singapore to 1 other Asian country

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Continue engagement with all interested individuals, NGOs etc in Singapore and help design lesson plans.

Task 2

Use systematic strategy to assess effectiveness of website, for improvement (eg. focus group discussions/ surveys).

Task 3

Engage with local/regional media, teacher colleges, education groups in 1 other Asian country and search for a local Editor.

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

As a teacher in Singapore with a heavy workload, I often lacked time to create good, updated lessons, even with 24/7 internet access. While global lesson plan databases were useful, they often lacked lessons on Asian/Singaporean issues. My school had a useful internal-sharing system - so why not include community stakeholders for greater synergy?

During my travels in Asia, I saw widely varying needs and resources available to local teachers. While some had easy access to teaching resources, others had limited access and found it hard to use the wealth of information online (eg. reports, videos) in lessons. Why reinvent the wheel when we can share?

The rise of volunteerism in Asia is a form of support, but I found many local teachers preferred to be equipped/ supported in their teaching, rather than rely on external, ad-hoc help. One way to support teachers, and increase regional goodwill and understanding is to share ready-to-use country-specific resources at a one-stop database.

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

We're affiliated to publichouse.sg, a Singapore-based website featuring local issues. We feature their writers, and our articles also feature on their portal.

We've received lesson plans/ commentaries from 5 local NGOs (WWF Singapore, a.t Bukit Brown, Migrant Voices, Openlectures, SOS Bukit Brown) and 13 individuals. In the pipeline are contributions from 9 NGOs, 5 companies and other individuals.

We're featured as a teachers' resource on the Singapore Polytechnic and National Institute of Education websites.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

Staff:
1) Country Editors (for Singapore and 1 other Asian country within 12 months). This would have to be someone who is an experienced, innovative, effective teacher with good pedagogical style, close links with civil society, education groups, teaching colleges, NGOs etc, and a passion for this work.
2) Webmaster (to manage website design and troubleshooting)
3) Finance (to manage funds)

Volunteers:
1) Volunteer individual/organisation contributors (to contribute lesson plans, commentaries etc)

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Collaboration:
1) Cross-cultural collaboration of teachers (eg. teaching/ creating lessons together, replicating existing effective programmes)
3) Cross-cultural, free online educational symposiums - perhaps with subtitles
4) Combining cheap laptop/internet technology with lesson plans/ teaching materials for developing countries
5) Need contact with teachers/ media/ civil society in Asia