This blog post is a cross-post from EdTech Hub‘s blog https://edtechhub.org/2021/05/07/advancing-evidence-based-decision-making-in-lmics-focus-of-edtech-hubs-work/ (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0). The blog post was written by Sara Hennessy on the 7th May 2021.
This blog sets out the Hub’s aims and approaches to identifying appropriate and effective uses of EdTech that can potentially raise learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Research shows that EdTech offers immense potential, but sustainable and positive change at scale has largely proved elusive in practice – particularly for marginalised learners where we focus our work.
To avoid the same pitfalls affecting many previous EdTech programmes, the first step is to take a critical perspective and try to understand why they were unsuccessful. This maximises the possibility that the Hub’s work will be effective.
For marginalised learners, the obstacles to effective EdTech use are amplified since all kinds of technologies are disproportionately used by the most privileged learners within each LMIC (e.g. ⇡Castillo, et al., 2015; ⇡Liyanagunawardena, et al., 2013; ⇡Selwyn, 2016b). This has been especially notable in recent responses to the Covid-19 pandemic; poorer students have been less likely to access remote learning, hardware and parental support (⇡Vegas, 2020; ⇡World Bank, 2016).
So which EdTech designs and systems might lead to more effective outcomes? This blog summarises the work of EdTech Hub, a global research partnership, in supporting evidence-based decision making to tackle global challenges in education – especially the SDG4 goal of inclusive and equitable quality education for all. For more detail about the Hub’s overall strategy, see the full-length position paper by ⇡Hennessy, Jordan & Wagner (2021).
EdTech Hub’s aims and focus
EdTech Hub undertakes and collates rigorous research to improve the evidence base for using EdTech to improve education for all learners in LMICs.
The Hub aims to:
- Empower multiple stakeholders at the institutional, community, national, and international levels to make effective decisions by building robust evidence for how to accelerate, spread, and scale EdTech interventions that improve learning outcomes of children and young people in LMICs, with a particular emphasis on the most marginalised.
- Identify local needs and the contextual factors influencing the impact and sustainability of EdTech initiatives at systems level, especially with reference to factors of cultural specificity and political economy.
- Evaluate, strengthen and build a global body of research on EdTech, including raising awareness across the education sector of methodological issues, especially approaches to measuring impact and cost-effectiveness of EdTech.
- Build a shared blueprint for accelerating growth of small-scale innovation through iterative trialling and user-centred adaptation of EdTech applications.
- Increase demand for and uptake of EdTech research evidence in programmes by making EdTech findings actionable, available, and accessible to a wide range of stakeholders in user-friendly formats.
- Foster a vibrant, global community of practice in EdTech across the education sector by engaging multi-disciplinary champions of change among researchers, educators, policymakers, and development partners.
In addressing these aims, the Hub strives to focus research where there are promising initiatives but evidence gaps – identified through literature review, stakeholder input and the Hub’s work to date. We specifically focus on how EdTech can most effectively be used to:
- Adapt to the needs of diverse learners: In particular, raising learning outcomes of girls and learners marginalised by poverty, language, disability, displacement, and being out of school, and using technology for personalised learning – targeted at the learner’s own level.
- Support teacher professional development and enhance teacher effectiveness.
- Strengthen educational data management, education system governance, and accountability, and improve participation in school through positive social messaging.
EdTech Hub’s approach
EdTech Hub uses various tools and approaches in combination to build and apply the evidence base in our focus areas.
The Hub’s approach to dissemination and uptake is guided by core principles of community building, multi-stakeholder engagement, and global open access to publications and resources.
Where we work
To target the impact and increase depth of understanding, studies are being conducted and commissioned in six countries initially.
Taking the field forward
The Hub is working with and informing a variety of stakeholders, ranging from practitioners to policymakers, and we hope to learn along the way from others in the sector. We warmly welcome your inputs and partnerships as we move towards capitalising on EdTech to improve quality and equity in education. Do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.