The latest resources from the Helpdesk
Our Helpdesk is integral to the way we support the global community to incorporate the latest knowledge and evidence into decision-making about the use of EdTech. It is a mechanism through which DFID Education Advisers and World Bank staff who are working closely with ministries of education and other stakeholders in low- and middle-income countries can request and receive short-term, discrete support.
As education systems around the world face the urgent challenge of addressing school closures related to COVID-19, there is a clear need for evidence-based guidance and assistance to support countries as they grapple with their education responses to the pandemic.
Given the magnitude of the challenges and the pressure facing ministries in relation to the global pandemic, the Helpdesk will prioritise requests related to COVID-19 over others during the period of April to June 2020. However, we also need to think ahead to COVID-19 recovery and systems improvement. Therefore, if you have non-COVID-19 related inquiry, we still encourage you to submit your request anyway, and we will discuss with you when we might be able to address it given overall prioritization of requests.
The EdTech Hub and Helpdesk take a learning-focused, rather than technology-first approach. The Helpdesk does not promote or encourage governments or donor-financed projects to adopt EdTech approaches that are not evidence-based and cost-effective in local contexts. The EdTech Hub discourages over-ambitious use of complex, technology intensive approaches that are unlikely to be feasible, deliver learning outcome improvements, or lead to inequitable access to education.
Please read on for more details about Helpdesk support, and contact the Helpdesk team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Scope of Helpdesk Support
Eligibility to access the Helpdesk
Helpdesk support is short-term and of limited duration, ranging from an hour-long conversation to a 10-page topic brief.
The 69 countries listed below are eligible for Helpdesk support.
69 countries eligible for Helpdesk support (click to expand)
- Burkina Faso
- Cabo Verde
- Central African Republic
- Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Congo, Republic of
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Gambia, The
- Kyrgyz Republic
- Lao PDR
- Papua New Guinea
- Pitcairn Islands
- St Helena
- São Tomé and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
- West Bank & Gaza
If you are a DFID adviser or World Bank staff member, you are eligible to submit Helpdesk requests. You are encouraged to use the Helpdesk to inform the development of COVID-19-related responses, programmes and projects, including those led by DFID or the World Bank or those led by other institutions with which DFID or the World Bank are partnering (especially government entities). These may include countries’ response plans and proposals for funding (such as, for example, GPE COVID-19 accelerated funding), in the case that these plans involve the use of EdTech for distance/remote learning, multimedia approaches, data collection, and more.
DFID advisers and World Bank staff in countries eligible for Helpdesk support are encouraged to work together and with other relevant country stakeholders (for example, GPE coordinating agents or grant agents if they are not DFID or WB staff) to coordinate requests for Helpdesk support. If multiple requests are submitted from one country, in an effort to evenly distribute support across eligible countries, the Helpdesk may ask DFID advisers and World Bank staff to work together to prioritise among them. For each request submitted, you will be asked to share DFID, World Bank, and other critical contacts, and identify a request “lead,” or key point of contact for the Helpdesk.
From April to June 2020 (and possibly beyond), the Helpdesk will prioritise COVID-19-related requests for support to educational responses for primary and secondary education. Topics that we expect will arise and on which we can provide support include:
- review of COVID-19 response plans and project designs to enable remote learning
- learning out-of-school, including remote learning through the use of television and radio
- assessment/analysis of system readiness to implement different modalities of out-of-school learning
- learning management systems and educational content, curriculum, and resources
- providing teachers with professional development support and activities for remote learning
- support for marginalized learners, including girls, those with special educational needs and disabilities and those in internally displaced and refugee communities
- assistance for parents, caregivers, teachers, and/or community champions to support education
- psychosocial and socio-emotional support to learners, including use of play and games, to mitigate impacts of COVID-19
- delivery of learning assessments and exams to learners while out-of-school
- EMIS and data collection using remote methods
- data and early warning systems to support equity-based COVID-19 responses
Educational responses to COVID-19 need to be considered through short-term (response), medium-term (recovery) and long-term (resilience) lenses. This includes maintaining educational opportunities during the pandemic, supporting recovery from the emergency, protecting the achievements and momentum of recent reform efforts, mitigation strategies to address the medium-term consequences of the emergency, for example, if 2020 examinations cannot go ahead, and approaches that will in turn contribute to the resilience of education systems. General topics that the Helpdesk will cover in the longer term include:
- education management (including EMIS)
- teacher professional development (TPD)
- open systems and governance
- education in conflict and crisis
- education for out-of-school children
- curriculum and resources
- education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
The Helpdesk provides several types of services in response to requests. They are:
- Expert consultation. The Helpdesk also offers phone or video-conference sessions with experts from the Hub and our Expert Pool of consultants who can provide advice and input on a variety of topics. Start-to-finish timeline: 1 – 3 business days.
- Programme document review. Hub experts provide input on EdTech issues in programme designs by reviewing and making suggestions on key documents, such as COVID-19 response plans, GPE accelerated COVID-19 funding proposals, concept notes, project appraisal documents, business cases, terms of reference, and more. Their feedback may include in-line edits and comments, as well as a cover email to summarize general points of feedback. Please note that the scope of Hub document review does not include copyediting. Start-to-finish timeline: 1 – 3 business days.
- Topic briefs. A topic brief is a 5 to 10-page document summarizing the Hub’s best evidence-informed thinking and practical guidance on do’s and don’ts for a particular topic. It draws on both the explicit and tacit knowledge of Hub experts and members of our Expert Pool of consultants to contextualize an issue and synthesize key points. It also may include a list of resources, including grey and academic literature, for further reading. Importantly, while informed by evidence, topic briefs do not constitute an exhaustive literature review. See one example of an EdTech Hub topic brief here. Start-to-finish timeline: 7 – 12 business days.
- Curated lists of resources. The Helpdesk provides curated lists of EdTech programmes, innovative solutions, research papers, and more. These lists include context for the listed resources, including uses, pros, cons, etc. and are provided directly to requesters via a one- to two-page document. See examples of Helpdesk curated lists on EdTech research, initiatives, and interactive radio instruction. Start-to-finish timeline: 1 – 3 business days.
- A combination of the above. In some cases, a combination of the above services may be most appropriate. For example, the Helpdesk might fulfill a request by first sharing an existing resource and conducting an expert consultation, and then following up to provide feedback on a specific programme document. Or, a Hub expert might review a programme document, and then provide a curated list of resources thereafter. Start-to-finish timeline: 1 – 12 business days.
Longer term or more intensive types of support can be discussed with the Hub team to explore what additional funding would be required and on what timeline the Hub would be able to deliver.
How we will prioritise requests
From April to June 30, 2020, the Helpdesk plans to respond to 30 requests in total. As of May 22, the Helpdesk has received 22 requests. As previously noted, DFID and World Bank staff working in the same country are encouraged to coordinate with each other, the Ministry of Education, GPE coordinating agencies and grant agents, and Local Education Groups and Education Clusters in their submissions of Helpdesk requests. Helpdesk requests are reviewed in batches, consolidating requests that are similar in nature so that our responses are as efficient and timely as possible. In some cases, this might mean that the Helpdesk develops one written document, instead of multiple, on a given topic, and then customises for each country as needed. After being batched and prioritised, requests will be processed as quickly as possible.
The Helpdesk will continue to accept requests on a rolling basis between May 8 and June 12 as capacity allows. As much as possible, the Helpdesk will endeavor to distribute its support evenly across all eligible countries seeking support.
How to access the Helpdesk
If you are a DFID Education Adviser or World Bank staff member seeking Helpdesk support, please complete the request intake form below.
After clicking on the “Submit a request now” button below, you will be prompted to enter a password to access the request submission form. If you have not already received it via email from Ian Attfield (DFID) or Mike Trucano (World Bank), please contact them to receive the password. The Helpdesk cannot accept requests that are not submitted through our request form.
Recognising that countries may have multiple needs for support at this moment, you can share up to three high-priority requests in one submission of the form.
If you have any questions or issues with the form, please email the Helpdesk team at email@example.com.
What to expect after request submission
- We will offer existing resources where applicable. After reviewing your request, if the Helpdesk team is aware of an existing resource or prior request response that we think will help answer your question, we will share this with you via email to see whether it meets your needs. If, after reviewing the resource we send, you determine that additional Helpdesk support is needed, then we will proceed with a phone call to better understand the context for your request.
- Video/phone call. After submitting your request, you will receive an email response from the Helpdesk team within 24 business hours to set up a video/phone call to discuss your request(s). We suggest that relevant parties participate in this call to facilitate upfront coordination, including both DFID and World Bank staff, representatives from the Ministry of Education, and GPE coordinating agencies and grant agents, as noted above. During this call, we will ask you to share any additional relevant context (e.g. more background on the current stage of the programme, the decision point that the request response will inform, etc.). We may also ask you to clarify your questions, to make sure that we understand them and that they fall into our areas of expertise. We will share our initial thinking on the available evidence, knowledge, and resources that we will draw on to respond to your request.
- Terms of reference. After that call, the Helpdesk team will develop a brief terms of reference for support that notes an agreed-upon timeline and scope of work and identifies the staff and experts who will undertake the request response. You will be asked to review and confirm the contents of the TOR via email, and we also suggest that the DFID or World Bank Helpdesk ‘lead’ share this document with others.
- Do the work. Then it will be time for the Helpdesk to get to work on your request. We will complete the request according to the agreed TOR, and we will always explicitly document the nature and strength of evidence we have drawn on. In instances where evidence is limited and gaps exist, we will draw on the best information and experience possible to provide a well-informed answer. We anticipate these sorts of gaps will not be uncommon, due to the generally limited evidence base on EdTech in low- and middle-income countries and limited evidence relevant for educational responses to this pandemic. Helpdesk responses will also incorporate cost and value-for-money information whenever they are available, and note this limitation when not.
- Quality assurance. For all response types, the Helpdesk will draw on expert input to source relevant research and resources. For curated lists of resources and programme document review, the Helpdesk will conduct an intra-Hub quality assurance review. For topic briefs, the Helpdesk will conduct a quality assurance process that includes peer review from a recognised senior expert. The senior expert will provide input on an early plan or outline, review a near-final draft, and review the final draft.
- Deliver the work to you. Once the response is ready to go and has been quality assured, we will share it with you via email and offer the option for a follow-up video/phone call to discuss it.
- Share outputs as global public goods. By making Helpdesk responses publicly available, the Hub will increase the impact of each response to secondary audiences beyond the original requestor. The Helpdesk will turn responses into broadly applicable global public goods so that request responses are relevant to more than just the requesting country. During the initial phone call about your request, we’ll discuss a proposed plan for how to make the response public and agree on what can and cannot be shared. Expert consultations and programme document review responses will not be shared publicly. However, curated lists of resources and topic briefs are intended to become public, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.
- Ask for your feedback. After submitting the request response to you, we’ll want your feedback. We will send a brief, 3-question survey to hear how the response was used, what worked well for you, and anything we can do better next time.