SoukTel's SMS-based "peer networks" allow teachers to interact with a closed group of peers through text messaging. Group members send SMS questions to a dedicated phone hotline and all members of the group receive it on their phone. Group members are then able to reply to the whole group with responses, promoting real-time knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer learning, and cohort support through a familiar, quick, and inexpensive mechanism. For PeerNet networks that connect teachers, the service could include more experienced "expert" teachers, or trainers/mentors from a professional development program, who contribute their professional advice to the discussion.
Through this approach to deliver data and information that improves teacher preparation and professional development, a geographically isolated English teacher can ask for advice from her peers throughout the region. She might text to the group: “My students have difficulty retaining vocabulary. Any suggestions?” Then any teacher (or the "expert" teacher) is able to reply: “I bring in props or I ask students to draw the new word. If it’s a verb like “running” I ask students to stand up and act it out. This has helped in my class!” Instead of having to wait months to get help, valuable peer advice is suddenly just a text message away.
- Teachers without Borders (Kenya) | In Kenya, SoukTel has partnered with Teachers Without Borders (TWB) to design a custom RapidSMS-based platform to help local teachers set and track classroom goals. At the start of the year, TWB asks teachers to submit personalized goals for the academic year via text message. Then, throughout the year, TWB staff periodically sends out follow-up SMS alerts, asking teachers to report on their progress. An alert might read as follows: “In Jan, you stated that your main goal was “ensure that all students attend class every day.” How are you progressing toward this goal? Text a number from 0 to 5, where 5 = great progress, 0 = no progress.” Based on responses, TWB staff can then strategically target teacher support. SoukTel’s platform also facilitates TWB’s work in planning, tailoring, and evaluating teacher trainings: local trainers can send SMS surveys to all potential participants to determine 1) the best time and location for trainings; 2) the topics teachers wish to cover; 3) alerts to remind participants of the training time and location; and 4) evaluation surveys after trainings to gather real-time, formative feedback.
SoukTel’s Unique Features:
- System Management from Web or Phone | SoukTel's customized messaging platform enables partner staff to send alerts and initiate surveys from a secure web interface or authorized mobile phones—facilitating program management from the field. Staff do not need Internet or land line phones in order to manage the system.
- Flexible and Scalable | SoukTel's current system can be used among small groups or large beneficiary cohorts with no additional adaptation needed. Messages can be purchased on a “pay as you go” basis, with no fixed contract obligations, minimum purchase requirements, or expiration dates.
- Advanced Message Send-Out Options | Customized features enable partner staff to create alerts in advance, and then program them for send-out at a later time/date (and/or on a repeating basis). Alert messages can also be sent to multiple recipient groups at the same time—enabling large-scale messaging campaigns to be launched at the touch of a button.
- Fully Customized and Integrated | SoukTel's messaging systems meet partner’s exact specifications—including custom logo/branding features, user interfaces/manuals, and integration into other partner websites/databases.
- Multi-lingual | Messages sent by SoukTel's system can be written in any language (French, English, mother tongues, etc.) and SoukTel's platform can be translated into any language.
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SoukTel works in partnership with local schools and organizations to identify groups that would benefit most from its services.
Target Audience | SoukTel hopes to reach more clients in Asia and Sub-saharan Africa where internet penetration is high, but there still exists a shortage of mobile services targeting underserved communities.
Target Sectors | SoukTel also seeks to increase its presence in other technical areas such as the agriculture and humanitarian sectors.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Customized Data Collection | SoukTel offers customized mobile solutions that facilitate unique data collection on its web platform. This platform monitors a number of quantitative metrics such as who accesses the mobile system, how often they access it, and what functions they utilize the most. SoukTel's dynamic grouping function also allows every mobile number in the database to be tagged with specific demographic information that is monitored - such as age, gender, region, etc.