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Educational Initiatives

  • LocationIndia
  • SectorEducation
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageTest & Transition

A $2,307,658 grant to roll out an adaptive learning software, Mindspark, within 80 government schools and integrate the platform into regular classroom teaching by government school teachers, and to develop a set of experimental research studies on effective teaching methods from the data generated during the implementation.

Educational Initiatives

The development problem.

Developing countries have made significant progress in improving school enrolment and completion, however learning outcomes remain low. In India, over 60% of children aged 6-14 cannot read at the second-grade level, despite primary school enrollment rates over 95% and substantial increases in education spending.

Personalised teaching can help low-achieving students catch up, however, it is extremely challenging for teachers to tailor learning to each individual child. Often, the most that teachers can do is assess students’ performance and provide different activities to different groups of students.

The innovation.

Educational Initiatives’ computer-adaptive learning software, Mindspark, delivers personalised instruction to students in a regular classroom setting. Mindspark has been used by over 500,000 private school students to date, has a database of over 45,000 test questions, and administers over a million questions across its users every day.

Mindspark uses data to benchmark the learning level of every student and customise material to match the level and rate of progress made by each individual student. It can also analyse data to identify patterns of errors, and precisely target content to overcome learning obstacles that may be difficult for teachers to address with each individual student.

It can be delivered in a variety of settings, it can be deployed through computers, tablets, or smartphones, and it can be used both online and offline.

A recent high quality RCT found large and cost-effective gains in test scores for students using the vernacular Hindi version of Mindspark in after school centres. Treated students experienced double the test score gains of the control group in math, and 2.5 times the gains in Hindi language.

GIF's investment.

A key challenge to realising the potential of the platform is to successfully deploy it within a government school setting and integrate the platform into regular pedagogy by government school teachers.

GIF’s support to Educational Initiatives (in cooperation with J-PAL) will be used for classroom integration of an adaptive learning software in the government system, and development of a Learning Lab, which would produce knowledge on learning deficits and effective pedagogy in low-income settings.

Investment objective(s).

Deploy the Mindspark programme in at least 40 participating government schools to benefit at least 5,000 children through improving learning outcomes in mathematics and Hindi. Document and disseminate processes, tools and learning to assist in uptake of personalized adaptive learning in other schools in India, produce research papers on effective pedagogy, and create a science of learning library to act as a repository of key pedagogical concepts, common misconceptions, and remedial plans for Maths and Hindi for grades 1-4.

Why we invested

Poor education outcomes is an important development problem that is worsening over time, with disproportionate long-term impact on target beneficiaries.

Significant promise in using technology to convert education investments of time and money into human capital (cracking the black box of pedagogical effectiveness at large scale).

Disruptive innovation, with strong initial evidence of high impact and cost-effectiveness.

Strong implementation and academic team.

A potentially compelling pathway to scale through public systems – at least a few states likely to adopt if success can be demonstrated.

The evaluation seeks to prove a scalable implementation model by figuring out the most effective manner in which the software can be integrated into regular classroom instruction.

Click here to read Educational Initiatives’ Impact Brief.

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