Covid-19: Insights from our global call for ideas

An empty school classroom
Photo credit: sengchoy

Key Findings

In April 2020, we launched a global call for ideas to respond to the learning emergency caused by Covid-19 school closures. We reviewed all 371 applications and learned a lot in the process. We’re excited to share our findings with you.

We used our 6 P’s framework to look at the people, product, pedagogy, policy, place, and provisions which might influence a program’s performance.

Add your own perspective. Leave comments directly on the full report.

  • On metrics we found vanity over sanity, with little data on users or impact measures. We were disappointed to find so many intervention metrics focused tool popularity (user reach, # of downloads, etc.), and so few describing the user’s experience or impact. 
  • Marginalised communities were targeted specifically, but not generally. Many applicants had promising approaches to supporting marginalized learners such as girls, remote learners, or learners with special needs. But those that did not, had very little (to no) strategy for reaching those users.
  • Virtual learning environments (VLEs) are promising, but should everyone be building their own? Most applications included platforms that connect learners to content or educators virtually. However, there was little evidence of collaboration.
  • Innovators assume most people have access to smart technology and the internet. This means the most marginalised learners continue to be left behind.
  • Personalised and interactive learning is all the rage. Over 75%of the tools featured in our call for ideas applications included some interactive teaching and learning, or personalization component. 
  • Many tools still assume that tech + content = learning.We know more is needed. Too many proposals focused primarily on getting learners access to their specific technology, without much thought to how learning might be fostered.
  • While some applicants partner with Ministries of Education, too often tools work in parallel to education systems. Instead of building on existing efforts to implement distance learning, most interventions sought to build efforts in parallel with public provision.
  • The largest number of programs are working in Sub-Saharan Africa (42%) and South Asia (19%), with Nigeria (15%) and India (13%) being the hottest countries for EdTech.
  • Community-led design of tools can lead to strong uptake and use. By designing alongside users, interventions were likely to quickly identify potential barriers to use, and ensure their tools’ relevance.
  • User fees were rare, removing one potential barrier to access for learners. Over 70% of tools were completely free, 4% offered some free functionality, and just under 25% required paid subscriptions or pay-per-use models.
  • Sustainability, what’s that? Lack of clarity on the sustainability of tools’ business models was a general trend.
  • Funding and partnership were the most often cited needs. Yet, reviewers felt that additional pedagogical expertise, as well as research and experimentation support might be important.
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