The EdTech Hub had just finished a seven-month planning phase when COVID-19 hit. A profound sense of urgency swept over us. We realized that the planning we had done for a gradual ramp-up was now feeling insufficient to fulfill our mission, given the new global reality of kids being away from school, and the potential for EdTech to help.
Our team of experts accelerated their work: synthesising existing research, writing advice briefs, and experimenting with distance learning ideas. We’ve been posting everything they create on our website in hopes it will be useful to the massive global audience desperate for guidance on what to do during these unprecedented times of global school closures. Our website is quite literally a ‘minimum viable product’ — the simplest way we could quickly get content up and out.
At the same time, we’ve been working closely with Public Digital and Content Design London to help us accelerate the development of our future website to better meet the needs of our target users: education decision-makers in low- and middle-income countries.
Working with these digital experts was eye-opening. One of the biggest insights is that the website (any website!) shouldn’t be structured to reflect the internal structure of our programme or the types of content we produce — it should be structured to meet users wherever they are on their journey to apply evidence to education decision-making.
Does a government official looking for evidence and examples about how to support teachers at a distance care whether they are reading a “rapid evidence review” or a “Helpdesk memo” or a “policy brief” or a blog post? No. They care that they have been able to orient themselves to the information available, get initial answers to questions, and know where to go for more tailored advice. They also need to trust that what they are reading is based on sound evidence.
So we’re setting out to meet their needs.
To make this happen, we’re establishing a new digital team in the EdTech Hub. The team we’ve recruited has decades of collective expertise in building user-focused digital services. That team started last week and we are thrilled to welcome:
- Hod Gerlitz, a product manager based in the US
- Jacques Nyilinkindi, a developer based in Rwanda
- Tahi Gichigi, a content designer based in the UK
They are already hard at work building our new website — with a relentless focus on meeting user needs first. They will be creating an EdTech “playbook” of sorts, with easy-to-digest evidence and guidance on common challenges, and always (always!) links to complete research for those who need and want it.
While that effort ramps up, the new digital team will also make some quick fixes to our existing website, to make it simpler, clearer, and easier to use. One change that’s already live is a simple set of social media buttons to enable sharing:
We’re committed and determined to work in the open as much as we can, and this team has a mandate to do precisely that. You’ll see bits and pieces of the new website before they’re perfect (they’ll never be perfect), so you can tell us what’s working and what’s not, what you need more and less of. You’ll be hearing more from the team soon.