Mobile Soft Skills Training Afghanistan
FHI 360 and USAID have launched a mobile soft skills app to enable Afghan tertiary students to improve their employability competencies using interactive video for offline blended learning. The open source app, created on the Ustad Mobile platform under the University Support and Workforce Development Program (USWDP), enables students to complete coursework offline on their own devices prior to attending in-person classes. Career center staff share course modules directly with students from phone to phone using an offline peer-to-peer sharing feature.
The app content contains four pre-employability modules (CV writing, cover letter writing, job search skills and job interview skills) and five post-employability modules (communication skills, workplace values and ethics, time management, report writing and entrepreneurship). Each module begins with a short introductory video explaining the learning objectives and relevance of the module to the students. Assessments are conducted on a rotating basis as the students progress through the modules choosing how to respond to simulated situations. Usage data – such as time spent on each module and quiz scores – is logged to devices offline and automatically uploaded securely to a cloud server when a connection is available. An in-app peer-to-peer feature enables wireless offline sharing with nearby devices at high speed.
In November 2017, USWDP conducted a preliminary pilot into the effectiveness of the app with a convenience sample of 92 students across four universities. 69 students out of 92 completed the modules. Their scores increased from an average of 32/100 before using the app to an average of 71/100 after using the app. Career center staff are comfortable downloading the app and sharing it offline with students using their own phones. There are no excess equipment costs as the students complete the modules on the devices that they already own. There are no further capital costs for meeting excess demand for soft skills training through a mobile solution, and scaling the peer-to-peer sharing solution (a) results in no additional recurrent costs and (b) mitigates user data costs. USWDP aims for 4,000 university students to complete the course via the app over the next year.
The mobile soft skills training content is published under CC0 (Creative Commons 0 licence "no rights reserved") and available to download from the Google Play Store in Dari, Pashto and English.
For more information on the MSST app, please contact Steven Ehrenberg, Associate Director for Learning and Technology, FHI 360.