What we learned from GLEN Learn’s pilot deployment at IVYP in Goleta, California

Our flagship learning app, GLEN Learn, was piloted at the Isla Vista Youth Project (IVYP) Children’s Center in Goleta, California from November 2019 to March 2020. IVYP serves a large fraction of families with English Learners (ELs) in Santa Barbara, California, and has decades of experience providing a diverse set of educational and social programs for children regardless of their families’ financial status. Read more about our IVYP pilot’s kickoff here.

First of all, a big THANK YOU to the IVYP team for their strong and sustained support for GLEN World.  The feedback from the children, teachers, and staff at IVYP has been invaluable and very encouraging. As we describe below, many of these suggestions have been incorporated in our GLEN Learn app and its associated dashboard, hence the IVYP pilot has truly paved the way for the upcoming public release of GLEN Learn.  

Through the course of our four-month pilot, we worked closely with the IVYP children, teachers, and staff to ensure that we could quickly address any issues that came up with either technology or content and to gather feedback and learner progress both qualitatively and quantitatively (via learner analytics). The teachers provided concrete and constructive feedback on our learning content. For instance, they appreciated the diversity of images used in the GLEN Learn app (which includes a large number of real-world images for words), preferring these to typical cartoon images used in many apps aimed at children. They liked the guided lesson plans and suggested some enhancements in the lesson sequence based on their observations of the children using the app. 

The IVYP staff also suggested adding Spanish stories to our collection of children’s stories so that ELs and their parents can better utilize and bond with our content. As a direct result, we now offer a collection of Spanish stories as part of GLEN Books (our standalone mobile app featuring narrated and illustrated storybooks for children) as well as within our GLEN Learn app! We also translated our communication to the EL parents in Spanish to make information about our pilot deployment and our learning content more accessible to EL families. 

The importance of our learner analytics dashboard to monitor the progress of the cohort as well as individual learners was clear early on in the pilot. We were able to share detailed learning progress data with the IVYP teachers and the administrators in real-time via our learner dashboard. This led to many insightful conversations around how best to improve the learning outcomes and helped identify learners who required more help, along with the specific skills that they were having difficulty with. Based on these interactions, we added more data visualization and further improved our learner metrics dashboard user interface. 

With the help of the IVYP teachers and staff, we were able to evolve our guidelines for better learning outcomes while using GLEN Learn in class settings. The teachers observed that around 15 minutes of daily app usage per child, along with encouragement and helpful interactions from teachers and within children’s groups, were effective in sustaining engagement. Moreover, switching up some days for story-time and other outdoor play activities was also helpful in maintaining interest. Another suggestion for keeping children engaged and excited was to provide learner progress certificates. We promptly implemented this feature on our learner dashboard! The teachers could print these certificates out from the dashboard, and handed them to the children upon reaching learning milestones. They observed improved engagement for both the children and their families as a result.  

Overall, the IVYP pilot has been incredibly helpful in validating and improving GLEN Learn’s content design approach, the learner experience and rewards structure, and the learner metrics web dashboard. The pilot has boosted our confidence about GLEN Learn’s suitability for helping ELs and has laid the groundwork for our future deployments with IVYP as well as other partner organizations in California and beyond. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, we paused our pilot deployment at IVYP. In response to the pandemic, we decided to accelerate our efforts to publicly release our mobile apps so that children at homes everywhere can access our learning resources. Thanks to our experience with the IVYP deployment and feedback from our other partners, we are ready to make our content universally accessible. 

We are doing everything we can to rise to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot do this without your support. Please join us in our mission and consider donating to GLEN World to help sustain our efforts.