Muvule Academy is paving the path for quality digital early childhood education in partnership with CanopyLAB

By Yamanda Boukmakh, Head of Partnerships

 

Muvule Academy International School in Uganda has 75 students aged 12 months to 6 years. Amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, the entire school had to reimagine what a successful early childhood program could look like in a virtual setting. Founders Rita Sabiiti and Dawn Burks share insights, experiences, and challenges of opting for a learning platform aimed at providing parents and caregivers the resources they need to ensure their children’s successful learning and development.

 

One of the first steps in reimagining an online learning experience for an early childhood education program is to be able to translate the school’s teaching and learning philosophy onto a digital learning platform. While working with Muvule’s incredible team of educators, they shared the following about beginning their journey to remote teaching and learning:

 

“Muvule Academy is an education center of excellence that provides world-class education in a rapidly changing and increasingly borderless and innovation-based world. Because of this, we recognize the ever-changing dynamic world we live in and regard changes as an opportunity to approach learning and teaching in new ways. Our teachers have received extra support in delivering their learning content online and we have purposefully staggered the roll-out of our online learning to our parents.

 

Digitalization connects with our commitment to meeting the individual needs of our learners. With guidance, learners can work at a pace that best suits them, engage in learning they are interested in and provide access to material that is differentiated.”

 

Digitalization connects with our commitment to meeting the individual needs of our learners. With guidance, learners can work at a pace that best suits them, engage in learning they are interested in and provide access to material that is differentiated.”

 

The case of Muvule Academy is truly inspiring for preschool and early childhood institutions around the world. I often use them as an example when presenting the platform to potential pre-school and primary school directors. The following is an excerpt from a conversation with founder Dawn Burks:

 

Yamanda: What inspired you to opt for a learning platform for parents?

 

Dawn: We wanted to stay true to our blended learning model and offer a sophisticated yet easy platform for our parents and caregivers to easily access. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected learning and teaching and this platform was a way for us to ensure continuity of learning.

 

Yamanda: What is your experience like creating courses catered to parents?

 

Creating courses on CanopyLAB was not as daunting as we had imagined it to be. Since we have an existing curriculum and schemes of work, all that was required was to scaffold the learning materials and upload them onto the platform.

 

Rita: Creating courses on CanopyLAB was not as daunting as we had imagined it to be. Since we have an existing curriculum and schemes of work, all that was required was to scaffold the learning materials and upload them onto the platform. What took us a moment to figure out was how to present our learning content on the new platform and familiarise our team with its layout and


Yamanda:
How do you ensure to stay connected to your students?


Dawn:
Our students are between the ages of 1 to 6. This means that our parents and caregivers are the primary people that access and navigate the platform. Having said that however, we had to make sure that the content we uploaded onto the platform was engaging, colorful, entertaining, and educational. We used elements such as routines and content that students were already familiar with.


Yamanda:
What is the biggest challenge you face as an early childhood institution when it comes to remote teaching and learning?


Rita:
We have to rely on parents and caregivers to be the link between Muvule Academy and the learners. Oftentimes, parents are busy working and do not have enough time to engage, however, one of the key advantages of this platform is the flexibility of time. Families can log on at times that work best for them.


Yamanda:
How has CanopyLAB helped you create a sense of community by creating your digital platform?


Dawn:
CanopyLAB has a friendly interface. We were able to place our logo and school pictures on the platform as well. This contributed to the familiarity and willingness of our families to explore the new platform. Families can support each other by sharing experiences and posing questions on the conversation wall.


You may wonder; If a 2-year-old can’t write or type their name, can they even benefit from a learning platform? The transition to online learning requires great adaptability and effort from teachers and students at any level, from primary to university programs. However, one cohort of the population presents a particular challenge: Young children. The mere fact that a 3-year-old cannot enroll in an online course just yet has made many preschool institutions skeptical about investing time and resources into developing their own learning platform. However, Muvue Academy proves that by creating a platform aimed at parents, they are able to reach their children in ways that were otherwise not scalable.


“Although Muvule Academy International School is a young school, we are at the forefront of innovation in digital education providing literacy, numeracy, sciences, the arts, and physical education. We have embedded the diverse needs of our families and great attention has been placed on human well being and relationship development between students, parents, teachers and caregivers. CanopyLAB has provided the platform to make this happen.”


∼Rita Sabiiti and Dawn Burks, Founders of Muvule Academy International School