Introducing the EdTech Hub

Susan Nicolai
Director of Programme, EdTech Hub

As part of the recent High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, world leaders had a chance to review progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education for the first time since the 2030 agenda was adopted four years ago. Their assessment of a lack of tangible progress toward achieving the SDG 4 target sets out an urgency to do things differently. 

Headlines from the Report of the Secretary-General on SDG Progress 2019 include the sobering fact that in 2017, some 262 million children and youth were still out of school and more than half not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. This report quickly goes on to emphasise one of the most promising areas for change, claiming that “rapid technological changes present opportunities and challenges” alongside a caution that the quality of education has not “kept pace.”

Our new EdTech Hub is an effort to change that. 

A few short months ago, the UK government along with the World Bank, announced funding for the world’s largest ever educational technology research and innovation programme. Since then, we’ve had our heads down designing our work. While the launch of the Hub itself is expected sometime early next year, we’re ready now to begin giving you a sneak peek into our plans.

So what will we do?

Our planned approach locks together research, innovation and engagement in a collaborative, iterative cycle, generating knowledge with and for users to address problems as they perceive them. Our efforts will mobilise wider networks with well-established relationships with government, non-government agencies, national research and technical specialists, and local community groups for the purpose of better grappling with the use of technology in education. 

Within this, our overall focus is on the following two questions, broken down in different ways as part of our research and innovation work:

  • How can educational technology help to accelerate, spread and scale interventions which can deliver better learning outcomes for all children, including  the most marginalised?
  • Which educational technology interventions present the greatest value for money and social return on investment?

Who’s involved?

The Hub brings together a team that has first-class EdTech, education equity, and education systems research expertise as well as experience supporting innovations to improve and scale. Led by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), we have extensive experience in running complex, multi-year consortia, including a range of adaptive programmes, across multiple sectors. Research leadership is based at the University of Cambridge Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, Jigsaw Consult and Open Development & Education, drawing on the passion of individuals who have been working in the sector for 15 years. Innovation is led by Brink, a practice with extensive experience in technology and lean and agile approaches. Our engagement strategy is led by Results for Development (R4D), a global leader in developing effective country-engagement models that lead to knowledge translation and the development of practical resources that inform policy and practice. Regional innovation will be supported through AfriLabs and BRAC, with communications outreach extended via eLearning Africa

What can you do?

We’re in the early days of design for the EdTech Hub, so your input is valuable. We’re talking to people as part of forums like UKFIET, the mEducation Alliance Symposium this week and the eLearning Africa conference later this month. Even in the new year once we launch and begin implementation, we’re committed to being agile and adaptive, to accommodate not only the inevitable changes of an emergent programme but also rapid technological changes and the potential they bring.

You’ll increasingly be seeing more in this blog space and on social media from our team as we share plans and ‘learn out loud’ about how the EdTech Hub can support exponential rather than incremental change toward SDG4 and quality education for all.