Shaping the sector: How EdTech Hub is driving a movement for an evidence-driven future

How do you lead a movement for change in EdTech?

Eighteen months ago at the Transforming Education Summit in New York, the Hub released our Challenge to the Sector and launched a global movement for an evidence-driven future in EdTech. Since then, our team and partners have been working hard to drive this movement forward, alongside many others across the sector. We want to see a substantial shift take place, where evidence is generated, made accessible, and actually used in all EdTech decision-making. We know this is the most significant way to ensure that technology is effectively used to help address the global learning crisis. 

It is hard to quantify the progress of a movement: as we all know, the process of change is collaborative, complex, often contested and takes time. So in this blog we want to share a few snapshots that illustrate the kind of work EdTech Hub is doing to help drive the movement for an evidence-driven future in EdTech. We are encouraged by the progress made and the impact we are seeing, and recognise that there is much more to do! 

Generating leading-edge academic evidence, and packaging it for decision-makers 

Central to the EdTech Hub’s mandate is to generate high quality academic research on EdTech, addressing evidence gaps on important topics that can provide a better foundation for decision-making. So far the EdTech Hub research portfolio has resulted in the publication of 25 academic articles, with another 25 in the pipeline, each one targeting high-priority issues on how technology is used in education. 

The 50 articles will make a major contribution to knowledge — but academic articles alone are not enough. We need evidence that is accessible for busy decision-makers. So alongside the ongoing research work associated with these publications, the Hub is now focused on synthesising evidence from across our portfolio and beyond into concise documents that can be easily put to use. We have just released the first suite of EdTech Hub Learning Briefs, each one drawing on multiple evidence sources and full of practical insights. They focus on topics such as Digital Personalised Learning, Messaging, Cost-effectiveness and more. We will be publishing additional Learning Briefs, and spin off supporting toolkits and resources, in the months to come. Look out for them and please let us know if there are particular new topics that would be valuable for you and your context. 

Influencing strategic reports to equip the wider education community

In 2022 EdTech Hub worked with the Global Education Monitoring Report team on their flagship GEM 2023 report. We were glad to provide support, knowing that the unique profile of the GEM report made it a brilliant opportunity to help equip the education community with evidence-informed insights on EdTech. The Hub team worked closely with the GEM team, providing technical contributions throughout the development of the report and contributing to launch events in multiple countries. It was great to see a total of 32 EdTech Hub outputs cited in the report – and strong alignment between the GEM central recommendations of the report and the Hub’s five key questions. The GEM team deserves huge credit for putting together such a valuable resource, and we hope to see it being used to navigate shared challenges and opportunities in the sector. 

The first line of the report summary is clear: “Good, impartial evidence on the impact of education technology is in short supply.” And the message certainly got noticed globally. In the month the GEM report was published there were 2,750 articles published about it across 109 countries, with multiple examples of how the report led to national level policy changes. The EdTech Hub team was privileged to contribute to the work and see how it helped move the sector towards a more evidence-driven future. 

Making strategic contributions to shape conversations

In the last year EdTech Hub has provided public thought leadership at more than 40 strategic gatherings. This happens at global events such as the launch of the GEM report in Montevideo, at UNGA in New York, at CIES in Miami, and at UKFIET in Oxford. It also, and most importantly, takes place in regions where our work is focused, such as the Utafiti Elimu conference in Dar es Salaam, the EdTech Summit in Nairobi, and the eLearning Africa conference in Dakar. This is ongoing work and involves many people from across the Hub team. In the last couple of weeks we have particularly enjoyed contributing to the UNESCO Global Education Coalition meeting in Paris, and the GPE online conference on supporting learning through Covid-19

We are always pleased to be invited to contribute at EdTech gatherings. Building a movement requires being strategic in our choices about where we prioritise and what we choose to say. We have learned a few lessons about how to ensure the contributions we make are as useful as possible. First, we focus on sharing practical insights that we have gained from working in close collaboration with EdTech implementers and government policy-makers. Second, we contribute on topics where we have technical expertise and can provide insight on the specific issues of ‘how, why, and for whom’ behind research findings. Third, we consistently use our voice to advocate for a sector-wide commitment to tracking learning outcomes and sharing full cost models, so that decisions in EdTech can be made on the basis of robust and comparable cost-effectiveness analysis.

Committed collaboration is the key to movement building

Building a movement for an evidence-driven future for EdTech requires many different actors. We have been encouraged over the last year to see buy-in from governments, tech developers, implementers, researchers, funders, and teachers and school leaders — all recognising how evidence can improve their work in EdTech. The global learning crisis is as stark as ever, and the need for progress is great. EdTech Hub is committed to playing its part, catalysing the movement and championing evidence-driven EdTech. 

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