EdTech Hub: Clear evidence, better decisions, more learning
EdTech Hub is a global research partnership working to empower people making decisions about technology in education. The unprecedented disruption to education we have experienced in 2020 means that sharing good evidence with decision-makers is more important than ever. So we’ve been researching, advising, and experimenting to ensure children around the world can keep learning. Find out more by visiting our new website.
We will use this newsletter to share what we’re working on, and what we’re learning. Please share your feedback so we can keep improving it, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @GlobalEdTechHub.
EdTech Hub led on Action Area 4, which focuses on effective and equitable EdTech. Our background paper contributed three important recommendations to the White Paper: Expand data systems, enhance teacher and workforce development, and promote inclusion and equity of learning outcomes. Check out this blog from some of the paper’s authors on their reflections.
Apply now for the Covid-19 small grant research call
We are excited to launch a call for proposals for small research projects related to EdTech response to and recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. This research series will investigate the practical application of EdTech, generate primary research, and develop recommendations for Covid-19 response, recovery, and beyond. Launching on 30 October, the call will be open until 27 November.
Notes for applicants:
Projects must focus on and be undertaken in one of six focus countries (Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania).
You can apply for between 10,000 GBP and 25,000 GBP over the course of a 3-6 month period.
Projects must relate to one or more of EdTech Hub’s overarching thematic research areas: Systems, Teachers, Learners.
We especially encourage applications for research that builds upon existing in-country programmes, projects, and networks.
Full details of how to apply and eligibility criteria are available on the EdTech Hub website here.
Credit: Rising Academy Network
Using messaging to support distance learning
As the world shut down in early 2020, people turned to messaging tools to stay in touch: using technology we already owned and knew how to use. Teachers, students, and caregivers worldwide were no exception, using WhatsApp, SMS and other tools to keep teaching and learning. Our team set to work right away to understand the potential and limitations of these tools. A few weeks ago, we published a Rapid Evidence Review to find out more about the potential of messaging as an EdTech tool:
Messaging can be effective in providing activities and motivation to both teachers and students.
It is cheap, can be used at scale, and the material designed for messaging can be shared with informal networks.
While the flexibility of messaging could improve resilience to future disruptions, it is important to remember that caregivers are gatekeepers to mobile phone access.
So, existing inequalities could be worsened if traditional views on girls and tech impact access to tools like mobile phones.
We’ve also set up a Sandbox to investigate the effectiveness of messaging in practice. Working with UNHCR and the Jusoor Refugee Education Programme in Lebanon, we are currently testing: ‘What is the role of WhatsApp messaging in providing effective education to refugee children during Covid-19?’ Watch this space for updates from the team.
Virtual learning environments in Zanzibar
Everybody seems to want a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), but is it really the best method to keep students engaged and learning? We are often asked about VLEs, and were given the opportunity to carry out some work in Zanzibar including a feasibility assessment and providing guidance on digital content curation. We found that VLEs can be really useful tools, but they are only as effective as the training given to the teachers and students who will use them.
Our top tips on implementing a VLE include:
Start small and review often – This will help you identify issues and challenges, and fine-tune the curation process, workflow, and roles and responsibilities.
Have a short cycle – A short cycle will give you immediate information on the quality of the curated content, its effectiveness, and the user response.
Bring in multiple subject-matter experts – Be prepared to bring in experts who can help develop a process that works locally and transfer expertise to the local team.
Test content with representative users – If users participating in testing do not represent all learners in the region, there is a risk of curating content that does not meet the requirements of learners in challenging environments or with disabilities.
Find out more by reading this short guide we put together.
We established the EdTech Hub’s Helpdesk earlier this year as a direct line to country decision-makers as they manage the consequences of Covid-19, and for the longer term. Work over the last month has included: