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Case Study

StoryWeaver | From distribution to co-creation: Using Network Mapping to Achieve Impact at Scale

Conversations on the medium of instruction in schools for children until Grade 5 in India has picked up since the announcement of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, on 29 July 2020. The recommendation of the policy is that, wherever possible, the mother tongue/ regional language be used as the medium of instruction until Grade 5 to attain strong foundational literacy and numeracy skills. 

This has been the very guiding force for Pratham Books since its inception in 2004. Over the last 16 years, Pratham Books has invested in many innovations like low cost but high quality physical books, open source digital and audio books in multiple mother tongues languages to fulfill their mission, ‘to put a book in every child’s hand’. One such innovation is StoryWeaver, a digital platform that provides open access to multilingual storybooks for children to learn and practise reading. Storyweaver furthers Pratham Books mission by opening the doors to an endless library of open licensed books in 280+ languages to nurture the next generation of readers. On the platform, users can read, create, translate, or download an endless stream of free storybooks.

StoryWeaver is inherently built on the power of networks – authors, educators, local NGOs and government agencies, authors, illustrators, translators, storytellers, funders. These relationships have helped StoryWeaver publish 27000+ stories with over 50 million reads across the globe. At this stage, the nature of engagement with the network has been to create, translate and curate storybooks, and distribute them across the globe. 

Read more about StoryWeaver’s mission: The need for audacity & acceleration

StoryWeaver website: www.storyweaver.org.in 

From distribution to co-creation:

As StoryWeaver strives to reduce the barriers for every child to access storybooks, an approach that leverages the power of network effects was deeply felt. This article captures the outcomes of the network mapping exercise done by StoryWeaver in their effort to strengthen the existing interactions among the network actors, and look at ways of expanding the network and nurturing it into an enabling one.

In the pursuit of network effects, the first step was to map their network. This mapping was done at two levels: existing network, and the desired network was mapped for a specific goal of impacting 10 million children through educators. 

The network mapping gave StoryWeaver a big picture of who are the key actors driving impact at scale, and who do they need to add to get closer to their future goal. And, how different actors are interacting in the context of the StoryWeaver’s goal and what are the new interactions needed. 

  • StoryWeaver’s Vision through this exercise: Provide access to 10 million children through sustained usage by educators in a year
  • Main Offering: Engaging reading resources as storybooks in multiple languages 
  • Key actors: Teachers. Parents. Resource persons. Educators. Authors. Translators. Librarians. EdTech community. Other reading platforms.
  • Core interaction (through stories): 
    • Primary interaction will be the educator reading a book to a child, both on and off platform 
    • Secondary interactions would include discovering content, translating it to different languages, adapting it to their context and using it as assignments, worksheets or projects, and sharing it within their networks
    • Another interaction could be through the training workshops conducted by StoryWeaver for teachers or through government partners

StoryWeaver

Photo credit: StoryWeaver (attribution text under credits)

Some key implementable insights from the network mapping exercise:

  1. Clarity on who is StoryWeaver’s key actor: Teacher support and capacity building (digital) came out as a key component of the organisation’s strategy. The insights from the network mapping exercise helped StoryWeaver define teachers as the key stakeholder to focus on, for their stories to make way to the children. This led them to take a deeper look at teachers’ needs and capacity building as part of their approach. During early 2020, they facilitated a capacity building initiative for teachers by including a classroom storytelling and story-reading component as part of the Kerala government’s state-wide E3 English project, a new initiative aimed at improving English language skills of students in grades 1 to 8.  They are also creating tools to help teachers create more engaging classrooms through stories, as well as looking at platforms and organizations that are working with the teacher community, such as DIKSHA, CBSE to reach more teachers.
  2. The power of backlinking: StoryWeaver is providing backlinks from their platform to their partner’s content, both translators and publishers. Through this, StoryWeaver is providing a gateway to diverse reading resources from Room to Read, Africa Library & Information Associations & institutions (AFLIA), Book Dash and the likes that can be read by children across the world. They are also working on creating a database of content and dissemination partners who can backlink to StoryWeaver to further their reach.
  3. Adoption of network strategies:
    1. Multihoming: This is an approach towards extending their partner’s platform with StoryWeaver’s rich feature capabilities with minimum technical investment. The network mapping exercise helped them create a framework to provide curated region specific gateway integration for partners via SSO to StoryWeaver. This is illustrated through StoryWeaver’s partnership with Darakht-e Danesh, one of their translation partners for Farsi and Pashto, and also a pilot partner for the curated gateway integration. Users on their platform can access all the features of StoryWeaver via Single Sign On without leaving the partner platform. This is in the true sense, an end-to-end integration between two platforms. Darakht-e Danesh has committed to use this extensively with teacher networks across Afghanistan. Another illustration of creating a SSO gateway to the StoryWeaver website is with the Kerala government’s teacher portal, Samagra. This enabled teachers logged in to the Samagra site to directly access StoryWeaver – without them having to create a separate account for StoryWeaver or sign-in separately. This had led to over 100K teachers discovering and using StoryWeaver. An increased traffic from Kerala to the StoryWeaver website was also seen during the Covid-19 school closures in March-April 2020.
    2. Fast-moving usersThe exercise nudged the team to narrow the immediate focus to consumers instead of creators, and devise approaches to service their needs effectively. They realised that their core consumers, i.e., educators are not very active on the platform yet.  There was a need to highlight their effort and craft initiatives to get power users on to the platform and increase non-logged-in readers. One of the immediate outcomes (in the pipeline, to be released shortly) has been to provide capability for educators and translators to curate storybooks on their own bookshelves, a feature on the platform, and share it within their organisation and networks.
    3. Leveraging existing infrastructures: StoryWeaver has begun working on hosting their  content on platforms such as DIKSHA, a government of India platform for school education, to ensure that it reaches far more teachers across India. As part of this process, they have mapped their content to national curricular frameworks such as CBSE’s to enable discovery and usage of storybooks in traditional classrooms.
  4. Focus on strengthening API strategy for all types of content: StoryWeaver has looked at integrations for their partner platforms so that their users can seamlessly access StoryWeaver without having to leave their site. This has been possible through API based site-level integrations, such as iframe, that can integrate the StoryWeaver website within the partner website. For instance, NDLI (National Digital Library of India) has built such an integration to the StoryWeaver website on their platform.  It can also allow ecosystem actors to easily version books into accessible formats like Braille and DAISY for the print impaired by downloading the ePub versions of the books.

StoryWeaver has also defined multiple levels of content exchange collaboration with partners through:

  • Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) API: Token based pull of pdfs and epubs by platforms
  • SSO integration: to enable users registered on partner platforms to directly access StoryWeaver through the same login ID and password
  • iFrame embedding: Simple integration of StoryWeaver platform as an extension within Partner’s site 

Clear definition of what are the core offerings: 

The exercise gave StoryWeaver the clarity to define specific offerings for creators and consumers based on their different demographics, with the immediate focus being on the consumers. 

For consumers such as teachers & educators, StoryWeaver undertook a structured analysis to understand the need-gaps on the ground and created bundled offerings such that they can be used without additional planning and effort. This has also translated to the creation of Structured Reading Programmes for classrooms and thematic lists based on topics that educators can use in the classroom. 

Additional resource: A webinar on leveraging the Power of Networks

Strengthening Network Effects:

For StoryWeaver, the network mapping exercise has unravelled new partners to collaborate with, new users to onboard to the platform, and has emphasised the need to strengthen their engagement with existing users. Moving forward, it is about co-creating ways to harness the power of network effects. It is powerful because of its incredible power to unlock value for all actors in the network, especially to build an inclusive reading culture in India among children.

This internal effort combined with the nation’s investment through the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 to focus on early education in home language makes StoryWeaver and  its network a key partner in advancing India’s education goals.

This article is a joint effort is StoryWeaver & Societal Platform.

Image attribution: Girl standing in the middle of library by Rajiv Eipe, for A Book for Puchku written by Deepanjana Pal, published by Pratham Books (©Pratham Books, 2017) under a CC BY 4.0 license on StoryWeaver. Read, create and translate stories for free on www.storyweaver.org.in