Iwash app and learning approaches

October 29, 2020

Learning approaches, authentic assessment in Instructional Design.

In other posts, I shared the common learning theories with a brief application in UX. In this post, I explain a bit more about the Iwash e-learning project and the three steps of the app. Link here : Iwash.org

The app aims to increase awareness on hand washing practices of illiterate learners and professionals of sanitation agency in Africa.  The app wants to teach the importance of hand-washing, how to do hand wash and how to become pro-active in promoting hand-washing practices. 

A road map of the App

In the first step, the users learn why, how and when to wash hands. This is proposed through small games and knowledge testing. Gamification is an approach aimed to gather the interest of as many users as possible. The learning, in this case, are rather prescriptive because it is important to pass to the learner the correct information on hand-washing practices. So, the assessment is summative and asks the learner at each level to prove the knowledge learned.

In the second step, the learner is asked to actively use the knowledge by building a hand-washing station for his/her own household or community. He/she is asked to strategically place the HW station and thus, think critically on his/her own behaviours. In this step, the learner identifies what knowledge he/she needs to use and for which purposes. Thus, an authentic assessment is necessary for understanding whether the learner is able to use the knowledge provided and his/her ability to make decisions in context. 

In the third and fourth steps, learners take their learning in their own hands and actively engage with the community. In these steps, the app will support their work and let other learners assess their work. These two steps are still in concept phase, however the aim of the app will be to create an infrastructure aimed to to easily share and gather knowledge crated by learners when creating projects and initiatives around hand washing stations.

Next, I will further discuss the second step, because it is the most critical step for the learner to become an active promotor of hand-washing practices.

Below, you can find an overview of the project.

Iwash project | overview of the learning approaches

The second step. Why a project-based approach and authentic assessment.

Problem-based and project-based learning are designed for learners to transfer their learning across multiple situations.

The phases of the project:

  1. Identifying a situation for the learners to investigate. (Check their own habits. | Find the most dangerous habits or the most common. | Define who needs to be protected by bacterias and viruses)
  2. Choose a place to build the HW station, by looking at other examples and their own context.
  3. Define which HW station is appropriate according to: context, materials available and skills.
  4. Build the HW station.
  5. Share their project and reflection.

In this project, the decision making and active participation are vital for the learner to understand a real use of his/her education. Thus, the learning is "student-centred". The learner is placed at the centre and needs a voice in why, what, and how the learning experience takes shape.

The assessment:

Authentic assessments require higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. Because they mimic real-world scenarios, authentic assessments are more engaging, meaningful, and worthwhile to learners of all ages.

The learner in this step is asked to provide a portfolio of the learning and his/her reflection, mostly based on the choices made. The format of the portfolio is chosen by the learner. Since the learners might be semi-illiterate the showcase of the learning can be in form of video, picture, text or a mix of those.

The learner is assessed on these two aspects:

  • Identification of strategic location for HW stations.
  • Understanding own and other behaviours.

The authentic assessment was chosen because it engages the learner to become an active learner by seeing the results of his/her work in a real context. Understanding correct behaviours take practice and reflection. One effective way is to build an HW station where is most necessary according to the learner. Moreover, it creates a trigger for increasing frequency in hand-washing practices.

The learning theory:

This steps roots in Cognitivism. This type of learning requires critical thinking and decision making. The learner needs to identify which are the riskiest behaviours in his/her household and understand how to build a HW station with the material available in the context. According to cognitivism, the learner is a "doer", an active learner who needs to understand the "why". By identifying their own reasons for hand-washing learners are motivated to participate on HW hygiene and put in practice those learnings.


McDowell,  M., (2020). Using Project-Based Learning to Help Students Develop Transferable Skills. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/using-project-based-learning-help-students-develop-transferable-skills

Israel, M., (2017) Microlearning: The Assessment Factor. Retrieved from https://blog.insynctraining.com/microlearning-the-assessment-factor

Wiggins, G., (1998). Ensuring authentic performance. Chapter 2 in Educative Assessment: Designing Assessments to Inform and Improve Student Performance. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 21 – 42.

Wilbert, M., (2013) Authentic Assessment in Action. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/sammamish-4-authentic-assessment-in-action-mark-wilbert