How to help children learn to read better around the world
A new massive online open course launched on March 11 to help children who have difficulty with learning to read.
March 19, 2019 by Rajani Shrestha, World Learning and Kara McBride, World Learning|
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A girl reads a book aloud outside. Honduras.
CREDIT: GPE/Paul Martinez

Teaching Struggling Readers Around the World’ is the name of a new MOOC (massive open online course) launched on Monday, March 11, 2019 by World Learning in partnership with The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Featuring content put together by a team of literacy experts from around the world, including Professors Catherine McBride and Malatesha Joshi, the course was shaped by World Learning’s team of online course designers, into a free, interactive course designed to encourage an exchange of ideas among participants through weekly discussions.

The MOOC includes five modules:

  • Module 1: What do we need to learn about learning to read and why?
  • Module 2: The first steps of reading and writing around the world
  • Module 3: Building phonological skills
  • Module 4: Reading for meaning
  • Module 5: Becoming better readers

The MOOC deliberately looks at what works for teaching children to read across languages and scripts. Similarities and differences across languages are brought up across topics, and participants are further encouraged to contribute examples from their own experiences.

Reading programs in Pakistan and Lebanon show promise

Early grade reading work is a priority at World Learning and our early grade reading approach ensures that all children are receiving an opportunity to learn how to read. 

World Learning’s global education team is building reading skills for children in Pakistan and Lebanon through two USAID-funded projects:  Pakistan Reading Project and the Quality Instruction Towards Access and Basic Education Improvement Program (QITABI) in Lebanon.

We take a comprehensive system strengthening approach to improving learning outcomes where we support reading in four ways:

  1. facilitating activities to encourage reading at home and through the community,
  2. improving teacher training and coaching rooted in the principles of experiential learning,
  3. strengthening practices in the school by providing explicit and systematic instruction on reading skills,
  4. reinforcing the policy and systems for sustainability of the reading outcomes.

Through QITABI 79.4% of students in grades 1-4 have shown an improvement in at least one reading level and more than half the students (58.7%) are achieving grade level results.

Similarly, in Pakistan, World Learning has broadened the stakeholder base to include parents, families, and community members. This has resulted in an increased understanding of the importance of education and ownership of education for their community, by increasing their own financial contributions to support education for their community. 

Rich exchanges during the first week of the MOOC

The Teaching Struggling Readers Around the World MOOC fits well within our approach as it was designed with policymakers, teachers, and caregivers in mind. Looking at the first week’s discussion, we see introductions like this one: “I'm from the Philippines where children reading readiness play significant role in the economic status of the country. I find this course interesting because I'm teaching in an ESL class and a mother of a child who has a learning disability.”

In order to ensure high quality discussions, the course is being facilitated by a team of volunteer facilitators around the world who are all reading experts.

Of the nearly 6,000 participants currently enrolled, there are representatives from the U.S., Pakistan, Lebanon, Nepal, Algeria, Zambia, India, the Philippines and many other countries! Knowing that our online courses attract participants from all over, care was taken to edit all readings and instructions to be comprehensible to participants with intermediate or better English proficiency.

"Reading" by Helvan AbdulFatah and Media Talal, via Kurdistan Save the Children

Although the course has already begun, it’s not too late to sign up! You can enroll in the course by clicking here: https://www.canvas.net/browse/fhi/courses/content-based-instruction.

The course was designed to be a five-week course, requiring about four hours of work per week. In order to accommodate to people’s different schedules, the MOOC will stay open until April 20.

Participants who complete the course (with 70% or better on the quizzes) get both a certificate and a digital badge and to encourage participants to share what they’ve gained from the MOOC, all materials in the MOOC are open source (CC BY 4.0).

For further information, you can see World Learning’s information page

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