TIST Learning Centre

The TIST Learning Centre is a free educational resource for current and prospective TIST Farmers. 

In the TIST Learning Centre, TIST Farmers have access to free trainings on TIST Values, Best Practices, Conservation Farming, Small Groups, Rotating Leadership, Tree Planting, Seed Collection and Storage, Starting and Maintaining a Tree Nursery, TIST Eligibility Requirements and many more topics.⁠

Farmers excited about joining TIST can access the first seven modules on the Join TIST website and - if interested in pursuing further - navigate to the TIST Learning Centre and create a free account to continue further trainings.

TIST’s Innovative Approach to Education

TIST is pushing the envelope in mobile education of rural communities.

Most models of learning with mobile phones do not work well for rural adult learners as they predominantly focus on the capabilities of the technology and not the available resources.

This is a crucial oversight in communities where smart phone and internet access is limited.

Existing models are also misaligned with indigenous traditions of learning based on dialogue among participants. These models tend to function as if learners were in a formal classroom environment and do not account for the learning needs of rural adults accustomed to non-formal dialogues in small groups rooted in the social sphere.

The big question is: "Can learning with mobile phones adapt to the technological and learning needs of TIST Farmers in rural communities and actually enhance the process of education?"

Big questions require big research, and that is exactly what Dr. Kevin Martin set out to do by working closely with TIST while doing his doctoral thesis in education at Clare College, University of Cambridge.

Martin worked with 3,216 TIST Farmers "to complete a survey and conduct semi-structured interviews to thematically frame the intersecting dimensions of technological affordances, mobile learning pedagogy and non-formal dialogic learning."​​​​​​​

This thematic analysis guided the development of the TIST Learning Centre, which is used by subsistence farmers across TIST's operating countries. Four iterative design cycles of the learning center provided insights as to how mobile technology can support small group-based dialogic education within a rural East African context.

If you would like to dive much deeper into Martin's research and discoveries, you are welcome to read his doctoral thesis in PDF format, which was undertaken in tandem with the development of the TIST Learning Centre.

To paraphrase from Martin's own conclusions, the greatest legacy of his efforts has been the Learning With Mobiles (LWM) platform at the center of this project, the TIST Learning Centre, which continues to be a resource for TIST Farmers. As the LWM platform has matured, TIST has taken increased ownership in developing and managing the platform and is no longer Dr. Martin's doctoral project - it is now a project of the TIST farmer-learners themselves.

As a result, TIST staff, and even learners, have started to imagine new possibilities for the learning center beyond Martin's own conceptualizations.

For example, in a recent meeting, TIST Leadership contemplated a suite of learning modules which offered both low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth options, allowing learners to curate the content to their respective level of bandwidth.

Martin likes to think of these developments as something beyond Learning With Mobiles, as TIST Farmer and Leader Alphaxard Kimani says: this is how ‘we make learning sticky in East Africa.’