Specialist Network: Call for Applications
Update as of 3 June 2020: Our expert pool has grown rapidly, and we have identified the expertise currently needed to meet the demands of existing EdTech Hub work. As the Hub’s work evolves, we expect that the types of expertise needed may evolve, too. Thus, we will continue to accept expert pool applications and will review them on a monthly basis to fill any gaps in our current pool based on new needs. If you are interested in applying, please do submit your materials but know that you may not hear from us immediately.
The EdTech Hub is establishing a network of specialists (a Specialist Network) to support its work. In addition to our core team, we aim to build a community of experts who contribute to and benefit from the Hub’s work, with the ultimate goal of increasing the availability and use of quality evidence by decision-makers. The Hub has rapidly expanded the pool to respond to COVID-19-related needs. From the beginning of June onwards, that expansion will slow. However, we still encourage you to apply to the Specialist Network using the form linked here. Below, we provide background information on the EdTech Hub and details on how expert consultants can express their interest in supporting the work of the Hub.
The EdTech Hub Overview
The EdTech Hub is an eight-year programme supported by the UK Department for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank. The Hub’s mission is to increase the use of evidence in decisions about technology-related education policy and to scale and accelerate learning outcomes for the most marginalised children. The Hub is led by a consortium of partners including the Overseas Development Institute, University of Cambridge, Open Development Education, Jigsaw, Results for Development, and Brink. AfriLabs, BRAC, and eLearning Africa, three regional partners, also support the programme.
The EdTech Hub’s focus is on
- research to understand effective uses of technology within education interventions
- innovation to test, grow, and scale effective, learning-focused interventions using technology
- engagement with governments to support the use of EdTech research and innovation in policy- and practice-level decisions.
Rather than a ‘technology-first’ approach to EdTech, the Hub takes a problem-driven approach by asking, “What is the education challenge we are trying to solve? What are potential solutions? Is there an appropriate and effective application of technology in the solution?” In light of the COVID-19 pandemic — that has resulted in over 1.5 billion children being affected by school closures globally — questions about appropriate uses of technology to effectively support education for all children have never been more relevant.
Governments are a key focus of the Hub’s work. They are responsible for the majority of teachers, who in turn serve the majority of children across the globe. If governments are supported to use technology effectively and appropriately, there is enormous potential for impact on learning outcomes. There is also demand from governments for support to use evidence and resources to inform their decision-making related to education technology. With an increasing focus on distance learning solutions while children remain out of school due to Coronavirus, the Hub will focus its work over the next three months on supporting countries in their educational responses to the pandemic.
The Hub will support country governments through various forms of engagement which include:
- Generating evidence: The Hub will collaborate with country governments on research to inform the planning, design, or implementation of EdTech policies and programs.
- Increasing capacity: The Hub will support education ministries’ capacity (institutional, organizational, and staff) to make evidence-informed EdTech decisions.
In addition to these forms of engagement, the EdTech Hub will also run a rapid-response Helpdesk service through which country-based World Bank staff and FCDO education advisers can request discrete, short-term evidence synthesis and advisory support to answer questions they are facing in their decision-making and working with ministries to answer. Helpdesk support may include activities such as:
- synthesising existing evidence into briefs and practical guidance
- reviewing programmatic and policy documents and providing comments and inputs
- providing expert consultations tailored to answer specific questions
Given countries’ high demand for support in navigating COVID-19-related school closures, the Hub expects that the Helpdesk will respond to at least 30 requests between April and June.
A significant part of the engagement work of the Hub is thus of an advisory nature, provided through a combination of in-house and external expertise.
To support this work, the EdTech Hub is looking to build a network of specialist consultants (‘Specialist Network’) who will collectively contribute to the Hub’s mission to build the global evidence base about the use of technology in education in a practically-focused way that supports decision-makers. Likely tasks include:
- prepare policy, research or practitioner briefs, guidance documents, summaries of evidence, and blog posts on commonly-asked questions related to EdTech
- provide expert advice (for now, via phone and video consultations, and where safe, in-person) to low- and middle-income country governments on EdTech issues
- provide expert advice to innovators that are testing interventions using technology
- prepare guidance materials or draft strategies and related policy advice related to EdTech for country governments
- translate academic research findings into practical advice and written briefs targeted at non-academic audiences
- lead or contribute to research at the country level including design of contextually relevant research, management of research teams, identification and screening of relevant literature, analysis and reporting
Consultants who are part of the Specialist Network will be called on by the EdTech Hub to carry out specific short-term assignments. We do not see the Specialist Network just as contractors to execute against deliverables, but rather as a diverse community of experts who will be part of the Hub’s global mission. Members of the Specialist Network will receive opportunities to connect, network, and learn from their peers around the globe. The Hub’s Specialist Network roster may also be shared with the World Bank, FCDO, and education ministries so that countries seeking support might draw on experts directly as needed.
The EdTech Hub seeks applicants (including independent experts, consultants, and institutional partners) with expertise in the following areas:
- Education research, policy and/or implementation expertise and experience in or with low- and middle-income countries (EdTech-specific experience desired).
- Specific themes related to COVID-19 that are of immediate interest to the Hub include the following:
- learning out-of-school, including distance learning, such as through the use of television and radio
- education for children in non-formal settings
- support for marginalized learners, including young women, those with disabilities and those in refugee communities
- assistance to parents, teachers, and/or community champions to support instruction in non-formal settings
- psychosocial and socio-emotional support to learners, including use of play and games, to mitigate impacts of crises such as COVID-19
- delivery of learning assessments and exams to learners in non-formal educational settings
- alternative solutions to support children’s learning-adjacent needs typically provided for by schools (such as feeding programmes, etc.)
- Immediate COVID-19 response efforts need to be considered with a long-term lens, including a focus on recovery from this emergency, and approaches that will in turn contribute to the sustainable and continuing improvement of education systems. As such, general themes of interest to the Hub include the role of technology in relation to the following:
- 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)
- experience advising low- and middle-income country governments on the development and implementation of education strategies, policies, and programmes
- experience and expertise in knowledge translation and/or strengthening government capacity to use evidence in decision making
Applicants are required to have experience working to support low- and middle-income countries. While experience in any low- and middle-income countries is valuable, experience in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is particularly relevant for the Hub’s work. Although it is not a requirement that Specialist Network applicants be currently based in, or originally from, low- and middle-income countries, the Hub will give preference to such candidates given the importance of localised, contextual knowledge, and the Hub’s desire to build a sustainable network of local expertise to support countries’ EdTech needs in the long term.
Successful candidates selected to participate in the Hub’s Specialist Network should understand that while they will receive a brief initial orientation to the Hub, they will only be engaged based on country needs and requirements. Selection into the Hub Specialist Network does not guarantee a contract or a minimum amount of work.
Specialists will be expected to work from their current home base and may be requested to travel to other countries on a case-by-case basis, though no travel will be conducted from at least April – June 2020 due to COVID-19.
Pay rates for Specialists included in the Specialist Network will depend on skills, experience, and the duration of the assignment and contract.
Education and experience
Detailed requirements will be supplied for each assignment. However, the following general requirements are listed as guidance and will be used in the assessment of submissions for inclusion in the Specialist Network.
- A qualification in a relevant discipline with substantial experience. Applications will be considered from candidates with limited or no formal qualifications but substantial and exceptional relevant experience.
- Specialisation in EdTech issues, in either the development or application of policy, research and/or programmes.
- Experience working as a consultant, or in an advisory capacity, with national, regional, or international institutions. This could include contributing to the development of policy documents and/or delivery of presentations.
The Hub seeks applicants with the following competencies:
- expert knowledge of education technology issues, including recent developments
- demonstrated ability to think creatively and strategically, to apply innovative thought to policy, structural and/or programme issues, and to develop practical recommendations that suit the operating context and resources of low- and middle-income countries
- strong analytical skills
- strong writing skills
- good presentation skills
- collegiality, a collaborative spirit, and good time management
How to apply
Individual specialists and consultants are encouraged to apply using the application form below. If your institution has relevant expertise and is interested in working with the Hub, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org instead of filling out the application form below.
Interested individuals should submit materials via this application form, which requires submission of:
- A detailed CV outlining their educational qualifications, professional engagements, and a list of other, relevant work undertaken, e.g. publications.
- A cover letter responding to 3 questions in no more than 200 words for each:
- What is your interest in working with the EdTech Hub? What expertise do you bring?
- In your opinion, what are promising policy responses or solutions to provide quality, equitable distance learning during COVID-19 related school closures?
- What book, theory, or world view has influenced how you understand the use of technology in education in low-income contexts, and why?
- An indicative daily fee or rate.
- Availability from June 2020 through August 2020.
- Applicant’s nationality(ies).
What to expect after you apply
After reviewing applications, the EdTech Hub will inform unsuccessful applicants of their status as soon as possible. The Hub will contact a subset of qualified candidates to conduct brief interviews and vet their fit for potential assignments. From that group, the Hub expects to initially select 10 to 20 successful applicants who will be invited to participate in the Specialist Network starting in April 2020.
Successful candidates will be notified of their selection and will be invited to participate in a virtual orientation. After orientation, Specialist Network members should expect only to hear from the Hub as opportunities for specific assignments for which they are a good fit arise.
A subset of strong applicants who are not initially selected for interviews may not be invited to join the Specialist Network immediately, but may be considered for future Specialist Network participation and short-term assignments as demand arises. They will also be informed of their status.
Update (as of 3 June 2020): Our Specialist Network has grown rapidly, and we have identified the expertise currently needed to meet the demands of existing EdTech Hub work. As the Hub’s work evolves, we expect that the types of expertise needed may evolve, too. Thus, we will continue to accept Specialist Network applications and will review them on a monthly basis to fill any gaps in our current pool, based on needs. If you are interested in applying, please do submit your materials but know that you may not hear from us immediately.