Highlights from EdTech and Covid-19: Lessons learned, future plans

Top: David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.
Bottom: Helen Grant MP, UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education 

On March 2nd 2021, EdTech Hub brought together education leaders, including teachers, programme managers and policymakers, to reflect on a year of EdTech and Covid-19, discuss the lessons learned so far and consider how we can prepare for the future. 

Over 200 people joined from around the world for a lively and thought-provoking discussion. Speakers included: 

  • Helen Grant MP, UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education 
  • David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Head of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation
  • Ranjit Disale, Global Teacher Prize Winner 2020
  • Sarah Shaikh, Director, Deaf Reach Program, Pakistan
  • Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) 

The event was hosted by Susan Nicolai, a Director of Research at EdTech Hub who also launched EdTech Hub’s new synthesis of research EdTech and Covid-19: 10 Things to Know, available in English, Français and عربي

You can watch the event below.

EdTech and Covid-19: Lessons learned and future plans, hosted by Susan Nicolai

In a hurry? Read five of our highlights below. 

Design for the most excluded 

Sierra Leone, like other West African countries, learned from the Ebola crisis and sought hybrid solutions to school closures. A mix of advanced and simple technologies, including paper resources, allowed the most marginalised to continue learning. As Minister Sengeh said, “it’s not just about zoom classrooms … because the girl with a disability in rural areas has a different way of interacting … if we can design for them, we can design for everybody else.” 

#01 Use EdTech in ways that reach the most marginalised

#07 Adapt existing content, pedagogies, and hardware

Invest in girls 

Girls’ education is especially at risk during Covid-19. Girls are less likely to return to school and are at greater risk of child marriage and early pregnancy. The UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education, Helen Grant, urged action to provide, “every girl on the planet with 12 years of quality education” as “one of the best ways of tackling many of the problems in the world today.”  

#01 Use EdTech in ways that reach the most marginalised

#03 Think about personal connection, well-being, and safety

#10 Scale and invest where EdTech is most effective, equitable, and appropriate

Learning is the goal, EdTech is a means 

As Global Teacher Prizewinner 2020 Ranjit Disale said, the pandemic has shown the importance of “the three T’s: technology, training, teachers”. Ranjit noted that his own experience with EdTech – making QR code textbooks for his students – worked because ‘it was very practical. It solved a teaching problem. The tech was a means, not an end.’ This was later echoed by Minister Sengeh who said that going forward, we must focus firstly on “the objective, the learning outcomes we want to achieve” and see technology as a way to achieve them. 

#02 One size won’t fit all; use a ‘multimodal’ approach

#04 Enhance teacher professional development

Finance, policies, and political vision will be crucial 

Covid-19 is not over and some countries may not be vaccinated until 2024. From his viewpoint working with education departments across Africa, Albert Nsengiyumva reminded us that, to reach a “new normal” we “need a systematic approach” where EdTech is financially sustainable, policies align, and political vision leads the way. 

#09 Consider political will, planning, and partnerships

Involve parents, support parents 

Parents have played a crucial role in children’s learning during the pandemic. But as Sarah Shaikh found with Deaf Reach in Pakistan, parents need support too. Parents of deaf learners do not necessarily have extensive sign language vocabulary and Deaf Reach leaders worried about language loss. In response, students were sent home with a toolkit of lessons, stories, dictionaries, and technology to support parents to teach their children. 

#05 Build learning teams: Involve parents, siblings, and carers

#08 Reimagine education by testing new approaches

Join us at more upcoming events! 

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