Introducing the EdTech Hub Specialist Network
What is the Specialist Network?
We’re an international group of experts with substantial practical experience in developing and implementing education and EdTech programmes around the world. The Specialist Network allows the EdTech Hub to draw on a wide range of context-specific and subject-specific experience and expertise.
We have a particular focus on supporting the Hub’s Helpdesk, providing additional capacity to help the Hub meet demand and quickly respond to requests requiring diverse expertise.
The Helpdesk is an on-demand service that supports people in low- and middle-income countries to make evidence-informed decisions about EdTech. We receive requests from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) education advisers and World Bank education staff, which we then respond to, with the advice often shared publicly. Launched in late April 2020 as governments around the world worked to respond to Covid-19, the Helpdesk has received 58 requests from countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As of 23 November 2020, 42 of these are complete.
Who is part of the Specialist Network?
Currently, the Specialist Network is comprised of 20 experts from 12 countries; half of us are based in the Global South. We have a diverse range of subject-matter expertise related to education and EdTech, including open educational resources, using tech for basic numeracy, curriculum reform, teacher professional development, Education Management Information Systems, and more. You can find a list of our members here.
What do Specialists work on?
We work closely with the Hub’s core team to respond to Helpdesk requests and support the Hub’s partnerships in low- and middle-income countries. This includes developing topic briefs and curated lists of resources. We also provide feedback to help improve policy and programme documents (such as funding applications and concept notes) and work directly with country teams to provide technical assistance.
For example, our colleagues Jennifer Otieno and Eric Kimenyi conducted a review of Covid-19 education response plans from across Africa and Asia. Based on the research, Jennifer and Eric provide recommendations for developing a holistic Covid-19 response plan that incorporates the needs of marginalised learners. Another Specialist, Harriet Blest, compiled a curated list of resources on the use of EdTech to support effective data monitoring.
We also provide expert consultations through phone or video-conference sessions. Specialist James Bradley of Rising Academies has shared his expertise in designing and implementing interactive radio instruction during several Helpdesk calls.
In June 2020, experts conducted rapid scans of the EdTech ecosystem in 11 countries. The scans summarised the policies, digital infrastructure, capacities, and other factors that enable or hinder the use of technology in education. An example is the Zimbabwe country scan, for which one of us, Monica, was the main author.
In response to a Helpdesk request from the FCDO, South Sudan, one of us, Joel, worked on an evidence-driven summary of considerations for ‘Building Back Better’ post-Covid-19 pandemic. The summary includes international lessons from the implementation of curriculum reforms, and potential applications of EdTech to improve learning.
We also support the Hub’s short-term technical assistance to governments. Our colleagues Elia Kibga and Caspar Groeneveld have been supporting the Government of Zanzibar on the design and implementation of an e-learning platform, providing guidance on key factors for success including deploying a virtual learning environment and sourcing and curating digital content.
What’s on the horizon?
Beyond helping the Hub support decision-makers, the Specialist Network is also a community, where we exchange ideas, experiences, and new thinking. We meet virtually every other month, and dedicate time to network and get to know colleagues from around the world. These meetings are also a valuable opportunity for us to share experiences and learn lessons from the projects we are involved in.
We’re excited about the dynamism, enthusiasm, and sense of community of the Specialist Network. We’re really looking forward to seeing how it develops over time, and what new collaborations come about as a result! If you’re interested in being part of this community or would like to know more about what we do, we are eager to connect with you! Please follow the EdTech Hub on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates.