Notes from our Barcelona trial

March 1, 2010 By

One of the major parts of our strategy at Worldreader is to run extensive trials involving the use of e-readers in the classroom. We are currently running our first trial at theBenjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, Spain. Simultaneously, we are preparing for our next batch of trials in Ghana, beginning in mid-March.

We chose Barcelona for pragmatic reasons. David, Colin and Mike all have kids who go to Benjamin Franklin International School. We spoke to a teacher there, David Pover, who had taught in Zimbabwe, was passionate about our mission, and was excited to see how his 12th grade English class would respond to e-readers.

Many of you who are following our progress have been skeptical about what we could possibly learn in a small private school in Barcelona that would help us deploy to a much less privileged environment in a developing country that might lack the technological infrastructure.

How is the Barcelona trial representative?

You’re all absolutely right, of course. But on the other hand, starting in our backyard was a great way to get us accustomed to the logistics of running a trial, from labeling the Kindles, to selecting and loading content, as well as interacting with the teacher and the students. By ironing out these early processes in Barcelona, we are hopeful that when we head to Ghana, we will be able to devote more time, energy and attention to any problems that arise that are specific to that setting.

In Barcelona, we assigned students to pairs in David Pover’s 12th grade. Then we gave each pair an e-reader pre-loaded with Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a book they were reading in class. One student would start off with the e-reader and the other would have a conventional paper book. Halfway through the trial, they would swap. We got some very useful feedback from them, but most exciting for us was to see how they lit up the moment we allowed them to download reading materials of their choice. Check out the video below to see what two of them chose.