Opening up education in Haiti: Local language for global impact in cyberlearning and development (Principal Investigator: Michel DeGraff, MIT Linguistics; Co-PI: Vijay Kumar, MIT Digital Learning; Producers: Michel DeGraff & Kendy Vérilus)
NSF Award #: 1248066
This video illustrates the MIT-Haiti Initiative’s efforts at broadening the scope of Cyberlearning. When coupled with local languages such as Haitian Creole (“Kreyòl”), educational technology benefits populations that, heretofore, have been underserved by Cyberlearning. In many developing nations, one barrier to quality education is the fact that the community language is not used in formal education while the primary language of instruction is a formerly colonial language that few speak fluently. In Haiti, everyone speaks Kreyòl, but the language of instruction is French which is spoken by no more than 5% of the population. This language barrier is: (i) a root cause of academic failure and emotional distress among students; (ii) a chronic violation of human rights; and (iii) a roadblock to socio-economic development. In order to improve and open up education in Haiti, we are developing digital tools in Kreyòl for active learning of STEM, and we are evaluating and disseminating these tools among Haitian faculty through a workshop series that started in March 2012. As documented in our project, the teachers’ pedagogy is improving through their use of digital active-learning resources made available in Kreyòl for the first time in the history of Haiti. The combination of technology, active learning and local languages enhances education, human rights and socio-economic development. We hope that the MIT-Haiti Initiative will serve as an example to researchers, practitioners and policy makers, as we document how relatively small choices can have global transformative impact through the multipliers of language and technology.