Bringing together municipalities, educational publishers and researchers, Studi’s Språkprojektet is a nationwide research and development project. It aims to develop multilingual digital educational materials that help all learners, particularly recent immigrants to Sweden, to be more successful at school.
Founded in 2011 and focused on developing short, animated, curriculum-focused films for students in grade 7 to 9 (13 to 16 years), Studi started this project as a direct result of feedback from teachers. With the help of Vinnova pilot project funding, Studi translated Swedish films in three subjects – chemistry, biology and religion – into Arabic and tested the material in 20 schools in 12 municipalities in spring 2015. According to Anna Kraft, MD Studi Nordics, the research focused on a few key questions – “How can the child best learn the language and course content in Swedish?” “Do the new digital learning materials help improve learning outcomes?” “Does the programme help students integrate with their peers and feel part of their new school?”
The pilot also explored how it’s materials could best support teachers, who didn’t know how to teach these newly arrived students. Researchers and content developers therefore used questionnaires and interviews as the content was used in class to identify what had worked well and where the materials could be improved.
The results at the end of the pilot were clear – they showed that Studi’s digital learning materials had helped students to learn detailed curriculum content as well as learning the Swedish language. This initial work to establish a proof of concept enabled Studi to secure two further rounds of Vinnova funding as well as financial investment from Swedish municipalities. More than 80 municipalities now use the resources, which are provided in 12 global languages.
This ongoing programme – Språkprojektet – continues to make extensive use of data and research in directing product development. Data is easily accessible through Studi’s learning platform and helps identify what progress students are making as they move from native language resources through Swedish subtitles and audio content towards fluency. By combining this data with insight from Skolverket (the Swedish National Agency for Education), Studi can also demonstrate improvements in learning outcomes as a result of using their materials.
Careful analysis of their data has also helped Studi to identify that their fastest growing user segment is actually native Swedish speakers! They’ve migrated to Studi as they’ve found the video and animation content better suited to their preferred learning style.
Student and practitioner feedback is also regularly sought, particularly when new languages and new content is being added to the platform. Studi’s newly opened Malmö office, for example, recently hosted 15 students and their teachers to gather feedback on new animations before launch. For Anna Kraft this work is vital: “It ensures that our content engages users and ensures that sensitive topics like sex and relationships are covered appropriately.”
Kraft also places a premium on the twice-yearly Språkprojektet meetings her team holds with all stakeholders. “These help make Språkprojektet an important network,” she says “where municipalities can exchange experiences, inform our research and discuss what content, features and languages should be added in the future.” It’s also an important opportunity, she believes, to reiterate the importance of Studi’s mission – to give all students in Sweden an equal chance to achieve educational success.