Digital literacy

Why digital content instead of paper books?

Digital media is transforming the way society functions, the way we communicate and learn. The cost of an eBook is around half that of a physical book and open access content can be re-produced for free. Each yellobric device starts with a free educational library of 1,600 eBooks, but has the capacity to store up to 24,000 books (an entire library) at a cost of around £80. Most students in developing countries only have access to around 10 titles.

Collection, shipping, and distribution of physical copies of these tens of thousands of books to the developing world would cost significantly more. Rental of a 20ft shipping container from the UK to a Kenyan port would be more than £1,000 alone. Furthermore, the process of securing books is vulnerable to changes in availability, and charities’ ability to fundraise for their collection. Wide spread mobile phone connectivity means our students and teachers have the ability to garner content directly from third parties via the internet.

Digital devices also have built in features to aid teaching such as text-to-speech, dictionaries, encyclopedias and note taking.

Digital publishing is virtually free and you can do it yourself, which means that we can encourage locally produced content without large overheads or production costs. Students are more likely to relate to this content, which in turn encourages them to read. A student in Malawi doesn’t know what a hedgehog is and will probably never see one.

Is our content open access?

We strive to collaborate and be as open as possible throughout all functions of the charity. The majority of our content is freely available on the internet under licenses such as Creative Commons. This doesn’t mean that it is of poor quality: a number of the textbooks have been adopted as official syllabus texts by local education authorities in the countries we operate in.

Some of our content, from our sponsor authors and publishers, is licensed for use in our projects only.

How do we ensure delivery of educational outcomes?

Yellobric have almost no overheads and employ no staff but have a detailed procedure in place to ensure that our content is effective:

  1. Using online forms we vet schools according to infrastructure (power, security etc), connectivity, provision of information and references (usually from an existing charity already working at the school). The devices we provide depend on the school and their needs. We only work with schools already working with a reputable charity and start with a single device for pupils to use as a library. Our charity partners help us provide on-going training, technical and content support.
  2. In-school project champions sign a contract agreeing to keep us up to date with usage and accept responsibility for hardware. Additional devices and content are only sent to projects that meet our feedback requirements. Charity partners on the ground help us understand how devices and content are being used, and how we can improve their effectiveness. yellobric staff also visit beneficiary projects once a year to see the devices at work, and carry out interviews with staff and children.
  3. Once a school has enough devices to use in class, we carry out a standard literacy test on all pupils using the content. This is repeated quarterly by qualified personnel who are often ex-school teachers. From these literacy statistics we build a database that can be analysed in conjunction with device usage information. This body of information demonstrates the impact our projects have on student literacy and help us improve our service.