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Achieving Learning Outcomes at Scale: GSF’s Impact at Scale Toolkit Coming Soon

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Achieving Learning Outcomes at Scale: How Can Resources Help?

This article introduces the Impact at Scale Toolkit, which offers valuable insights and practical tools to enhance your solution towards scale. It includes a combination of tools for specific challenges, case studies on how these tools have been implemented across different contexts, and unique stories of challenges and solutions other organizations are facing when scaling their impact. This toolkit is designed for anyone interested in scaling up, whether you are assessing the potential of a new project or evaluating the scalability of a consolidated one.

Learning loss is a global crisis. To tackle this crisis appropriately, it is essential to find solutions that can be expanded, replicated, and adapted across geographic space and over time to reach a great number of people. In other words: it is important to find solutions to scale.  

However, few education programs are designed with scale in mind from the outset and there is a lack of funding and support to help innovations scale. Additionally, there is very little evidence on the best practices for scale and how to ensure learning outcomes at scale . This situates organizations in a difficult position where they may have developed solutions to promote learning outcomes but are faced with limited guidance and knowledge on how to sustainably transform their solutions to solutions at scale. 

Given that the aim of scaling is not simply to reach a greater number of people, but to scale the extent of impact solutions can have on the lives of the greatest number  of people, it is essential to scale in a way that does not compromise the quality (“impact”) of the solution. With this consideration, GSF built the Impact at Scale Labs to support organizations to scale impactful education solutions. 

To enable more organisations to benefit from the learning and resources generated by the Impact at Scale Labs programme, GSF is launching the Impact at Scale toolkit.  This toolkit is designed to support organisations at various stages of their scale journey by providing tools, insights, and real-world case studies. The toolkit aims to equip organisations with the knowledge and the tools they need to ensure a successful scale-up of their programs, thereby ultimately increasing their impact.

This article details how we began the development of the Impact at Scale Toolkit. We needed to ensure that the toolkit we developed was useful and aligned with the preferences and requirements of organizations. Our first step was to interview organizations that were at various stages of their scaling journeys to be able to understand their challenges and needs comprehensively, and then to develop our toolkit to be most relevant to address these requirements. Here is what we found.

The Impact at Scale Toolkit

The Impact at Scale Toolkit is coming soon. You can see a preview of the toolkit in the video below showing the dedicated page hosting the resources.

From Classroom to Boardroom: The Rise of Practical Solutions

Organizations lean towards tools that are actionable and practical, as opposed to purely theoretical. While there is much discussion and theory surrounding scaling, organizations found that there was not sufficient practical support or guidance available online to help them as they navigate this new terrain.

“The language that exists is about the necessity of scale; but there’s no information on how to practically do that.”

Organizations were only able to identify one or two resources that had been useful in their scaling journeys so far, and those were highly specific to certain concerns instead of providing a more holistic, stepwise guidance throughout their scale journeys. Therefore, they expressed an interest in tools that were highly interactive and templates that could be filled out as per the needs of the organization. For example, a tool that allows an organization to assess and prove their readiness to scale was particularly sought after. 

“We need to know how to collect ‘rigorous data’...If you’re in a position to scale, you need to be able to ‘prove’ that your intervention is producing an impact and inability to do that is a problem. We just carried out an randomized control trial and have seen how it has elevated the conversations we can have with organizations about our readiness to scale.”

Similarly, resources that help organizations define their narrative and identity are beneficial, since this is often a challenge they face, for example, when trying to raise funds or share their wins on social media. Such resources would help them apply what they learn from the toolkit immediately, giving them solutions to real-world problems.

Quick Reads for Busy Leads: Time Sensitivity and Toolkit Engagement

Time is precious for organizations, who often find themselves tackling a number of different priorities at any given point in time. Given organizational time constraints, any resource should be succinct and easy to consume.

“[We] want fillable templates that are easy to convert into outputs.”

Organizational preferences ranged from formats like PDFs to PowerPoint slides, but shared the same sentiment of quick reads that provided them with the information they needed at their fingertips.

Been There, Learned That: The Value of Peer Learning

The scaling process can feel like a lonely one. There was a strong desire to learn from the mistakes and successes of other organizations that have successfully navigated the diverse challenges of scaling. Organizations expressed that the potential for networking and collaboration with peers in similar sectors is invaluable to them. They noted how GSF is particularly well-positioned to develop peer learning opportunities to help scaling organizations develop a community of support, especially on issues where toolkits are limited. 

“Diversity of experience is valuable: to be able to learn from the mistakes of others and how they overcame them. The [most] special offering of GSF is this shared experience through the toolkit.”

This allows organizations to grow together and learn from the challenges and highlights of each other's journeys, and perhaps even collaborate on problem-solving shared concerns. The interest in peer learning also extended to the toolkit itself where there was a particular emphasis on the need for real-world examples that allow readers to be able to understand how each tool or template can be utilized in real world settings.

Beyond Toolkits: The Struggle with the Education Ecosystem

While toolkits can be essential in providing resources and guidance for organizations across a variety of topics, it is important to note that many organizations believe that their primary challenges stem from persistent issues inherent to the education ecosystem, and as such, cannot be easily resolved with a toolkit. Issues with funding, capacity, and working with various stakeholders are examples of issues that they must navigate on a daily basis. 

“Most functioning organizations would be fine to scale with enough resources and timeline. The challenges [of scaling] are more contextual it seems rather than being internal.”

Any toolkit that is to be developed for such organizations, who feel that they are always “fighting fires”, must be highly relevant, useful, and efficient to be able to make a strong case for why organizations should invest time into these resources amidst their other priorities. Toolkits may also be supplemented with videos, communities of practice, or other forms of engagement to cater to specific and contextual needs of organizations.

Moving from start-up to scale is not an easy journey, but can be meaningful, worthwhile, and in this case, absolutely essential in tackling the learning loss crisis. Given the shared milestones and challenges organizations on this journey may face, a toolkit can be a useful resource to support organizations as they embark on the journey. As GSF works to develop this scale toolkit, we recognize that scaling is a multifaceted experience that requires different kinds of support resources and structures. The best way to address this diversity is to keep the voice of stakeholders at the heart of the resource design, and to provide them with what they need and want as they grow from start-up to scale.

The Impact at Scale Toolkit is set to launch soon. If you are interested in being notified of its publication, please sign up to our mailing list here. With special thanks to the GSF members who contributed their time and insights for this article and toolkit to be possible: Building Tomorrow, EducAid, Impact Network, Jackfruit Finance, and Learn to Play

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