Call for Research Proposals: EdTech responses to Covid-19

Call for Research Proposals: EdTech responses to Covid-19


EdTech Hub is excited to launch a call for proposals to fund a series of small research projects (3-6 months) related to Covid-19 response and recovery using educational technology (EdTech). The selected research projects will investigate the practical application of EdTech, generate primary research, and develop recommendations which aim to be useful during Covid-19 response, recovery, and beyond.


  • can apply for between 10,000 GBP and 25,000 GBP in funding (please noteadditional funding, up to a total value of 50,000 GBP, may be able to be made to a small number of applications – see Scope of the call section for further details)
  • must be empirically-based and related to the role of EdTech in the immediate Covid-19 response and/or recovery
  • must focus on and be undertaken in one of these countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania
  • must relate to one or more of the EdTech Hub’s three main thematic research areas: Systems, Teachers, Learners

The call for proposals launches on Friday 30th October 2020 and is open until Friday 27th November 2020. You can find details of the call and how to apply on this page, with full eligibility and review criteria available on the Call for Research Proposals [doc] [pdf].

Covid-19 related school closures have affected 90% of the world’s student population. The use of EdTech has been identified as a potential way to reach out to and support children in the continuation of education, and is part of many countries’ responses to the pandemic in some form. Yet the evidence base on what is showing promise, for whom, and under what circumstances is limited. As governments and organisations mobilise to provide education to children and youth, there is an opportunity for researchers to strengthen knowledge and evidence to inform and advocate for more effective responses to disruptions to education, and to contribute to the overall EdTech evidence base.

The EdTech Hub’s goal is to empower the people making decisions about technology in education. To further expand available evidence, the Hub is launching a call for proposals for small research projects investigating the ways in which EdTech can be used to support continuation of education during and beyond the Covid-19 crisis in low and middle-income countries.

Due to the urgency of the crisis, short-term research projects are encouraged; once commissioned, projects are expected to begin in early 2021 and be completed within three to six months. As such, we encourage applicants whose research builds upon existing in-country programmes, projects, and networks. For example, applicants could apply for additional funding to investigate how a previously-researched EdTech intervention has been adapted and used in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Research projects generally can apply for between 10,000 GBP and 25,000 GBP in funding through this call. Additional funding, up to a total value of 50,000 GBP, may be able to be made to a small number of applications, particularly where they allow for comparison sites as part of the research. 

Projects must involve robust empirical research and relate to one or more of the EdTech Hub’s main thematic research areas:

  • Systems: The use of technology to strengthen education system governance, data management and accountability.
  • Teachers: The use of technology to improve the professional development, retention and attendance of teachers. 
  • Learners: The use of technology to adapt for learners, including a focus on diverse needs of girls, learners with disabilities, out of school children, refugees and internally displaced learners. Research on personalised adaptive learning and teaching at the right level is also encouraged.

Projects must focus on and be undertaken in one of the following countries:

  • Bangladesh
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Pakistan
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania

Projects must clearly demonstrate the potential for impact–that is, high potential for the research findings to inform decision-making processes. Applicants must clearly describe the gap in the existing body of evidence on EdTech that their research would fill, and present a clear dissemination plan that addresses how the evidence generated through this research could be used by decision-makers. The Hub team will work closely with selected applicants to support and enable dissemination opportunities within and across countries, and globally. 

Applicants may apply as institutions, individuals, or small teams. Researchers should be based or have existing work and networks in one of the six focus countries listed above.

Successful applications will be expected to produce a final report outlining lessons for the Covid-19 response and/or recovery. Selected partners will be expected to assure project data and outputs are published on an open access basis unless otherwise authorised by the Hub. The outputs will be reviewed according to the Hub’s peer review and quality assurance process. 

For full eligibility and review criteria, see the Call for Research Proposals [doc] [pdf].

Activity Date
Call for proposals
(4 week window) 
Launch: Friday 30th October 2020

Close: Friday 27th November 2020
Review process
(2 week window) 
Start: Monday 30th November 2020

Finish: Friday 11th December 2020
Successful candidates notified
Negotiations and awards
Week beginning Monday 14th December 2020
December 2020 – January 2021

The application process involves submitting a proposal that demonstrates adherence to the eligibility and review criteria outlined in the Call for Research Proposals [doc] [pdf]. For applications to be considered, the following three documents must be sent to the email address below by midnight (23.59 GMT) on Friday 27th November 2020: 

  • Technical Proposal TemplateLINK [to complete and submit]
  • Budget Proposal Template LINK [to complete and submit]
  • CVs of each team member [to submit], see Call for Research Proposals for details of the information required

For queries and submission: (Subject: C19 RESEARCH CALL)



Research Location
  • Can a project apply if the research is based on education in a different country to the six listed in the call?
    The scope of this call is only for research projects based on education in the six listed countries. Please email your details if you would like to be placed on the contact list of the EdTech Hub for future calls for research.
  • Are proposals of multi-country research (that include one or more of the listed countries) within scope of the research call? 
    Yes, this is encouraged. 
Research Focus
  • What does EdTech mean?
    EdTech concerns the application of technology within education. This includes at various levels of an education system, for example use of technology in schools with learners, supporting teacher professional development, or informing policymakers’ decision processes. Further guidance and examples of research areas and questions are detailed in the Call for Proposals document
  • Do proposals need to answer the research questions in the call for proposals?
    The research questions provided in the Call for Proposals document are examples designed to provide an insight into the type of research that is within scope of our call. It is ultimately the researchers’ decision whether to use or elaborate on these, or formulate different questions (ensuring that they are in line with the specified criteria). 
  • Can projects apply if the research focuses on stakeholders who are not learners or teachers, for example parents?
    Yes, providing a clear connection is made to K-12 education-level learners and the proposal clearly demonstrates how the project relates to at least one of the thematic research areas.
  • What is meant by “allow for comparison sites as part of the research”? 
    Research that investigates comparison of impact across different schools/contexts/regions/countries.
Team Composition
  • Can a project apply if the research is based on education in one of the six listed countries, but project members/organisations are based in a different country?
    Yes. If research is based in one of the six listed countries, and providing the essential criteria is met, it will be within scope of our call.
  • Would a proposal be more competitive with a team lead from a LMIC? 
    Not necessarily, but we would like to see country-based researchers with substantive involvement.
  • Can an individual researcher, group of researchers, or institutions apply?
    Yes, proposals from each of these groups are welcome.
  • Can organisations that are not research institutions / universities apply?
    Yes, providing the individual/team can demonstrate experience of conducting rigorous research on EdTech use in low- or middle-income countries, and also the individual and organisational experience and capability to conduct the study.
  • Can a project apply if members currently work for or are a partner of the EdTech Hub?
    If you work for or are a partner of the EdTech Hub, you are required to review our Conflict of Interest Policy and complete a declaration form. When reviewing this material, you must state any involvement you have had in shaping, preparing or assessing the call, and your work with the EdTech Hub to-date.
  • Will the EdTech Hub pay the Full Economic Cost of the proposal?
    The Hub will fund all the costs of delivering the activities, and we would assume those costs are factored into pricing models. There is no request that direct costs are co-funded by applicants, and we will pay for reasonable operating or overhead costs.
  • Will the EdTech Hub fund the purchase of equipment?
    The Hub will only pay for the purchase of equipment on an exceptional basis. Please provide details of the equipment, why it is required, and what you would intend to do with it during and after the project in the proposal.
  • What is the overhead-administrative rate?
    The Hub allows a reasonable proportion of overhead costs. We require that an accompanying budget narrative which details how these costs are calculated is included in the proposal.
    The call for research proposals has been designed to be a commercially competitive process and the financial viability of proposals will be assessed (15% of the total proposal score), therefore the Hub cannot advise on any specific numbers about what is a reasonable overhead. (if an organisation does not have a set administrative rate, then applicants will need to be able to justify the proportion of the direct overhead/admin costs to this grant)
  • What are requirements for proposals that wish to apply for additional funding?
    Please detail the specific amount of any additional funds required in the application and how they are to be used.
  • Can successful projects receive funding in advance?
    Funds will typically be provided in arrears and reimbursement will be made based on records of spend. The Hub may consider paying a portion of the total contract amount up front. Justification needs to be clearly stated in the proposal for this to be reviewed. 
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