What we are learning | What we are reading: Data for Decisions – Can technology be used to improve data collection, analysis, and planning to improve learning outcomes?

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This is Part 2 of a six-part blog series inspired by discussions with partners working in the EdTech space who recognize they do not have the information they need to make informed decisions and recommendations. This was originally posted on the Edtech Hub website in August 2022 authored by Chris McBurnie

Right from the start, we have to dispense with the idea that the provision of education data automatically translates into more equitable and effective decisions. It does not. 

In reality, a perennial gap has emerged between the supply (too much, too fragmented, too little) of education data and the use of this information in decisions. This is especially compounded in low- and middle-income countries. This gap can and does lead to inefficiencies in resource allocation and service delivery, and disproportionately impacts the most marginalised learners.

Our goal is to change that. We specifically work with governments and development partners to strengthen data-driven decision-making. Recent investments in technology have increased the potential for more regular and reliable data collection, robust data analysis, and curated data visualisation in low- and middle-income countries. We must build a bridge across the gap between this kind of more/better data and decision making. To do that, we have to get the right data story to the right people at the right time. If realised, this opportunity can improve all aspects of policy and planning at the district, regional, national, and international levels.

To this end, we have developed a portfolio of research, technical assistance, and global public goods. Examples of our work include:

What are some of the lessons from our work?
  • The provision of large volumes of education data — and, especially, fragmented or duplicated education data — can hinder decision-making as much as a lack of education data
  • Education management information systems should provide a single source of truth with no repetition of data points (e.g., duplicated school identification numbers, multiple records for the same teacher or student)
  • Dynamic school-led data management can lead to a virtuous cycle of learning and improvement if school leaders accept the short-term costs of a higher administrative workload
  • The sustainability of school-led data management systems depends, in part, on government support for the decisions of school leaders
  • The development of education data systems must go beyond technology to focus on issues such as creating a culture of data-driven decision-making and building capacity across the entire system 
What should you read next?
  1. What Matters Most for Education Management Information Systems: A Framework Paper (World Bank)
  2. Advancing Data-Driven Decision-Making for School Improvement: Findings from the One Tablet Per School User Testing Programme in Sierra Leone (EdTech Hub with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in Sierra Leone and Leh Wi Lan)
  3. 6 key insights into the data and information education leaders want most (Brookings)
  4. Meeting the data challenge in education (Global Partnership for Education)
  5. Use of learning assessment data in education policymaking (UNESCO)
  6. Lessons learnt from education data mapping in Africa: Workshop summary and synthesis (EdTech Hub with Unlocking Data, Zizi Afrique and ESSA)
  7. Learning from experience: A post-Covid-19 data architecture for a resilient education data ecosystem in Sierra Leone (Fab Inc with EdTech Hub)
  8. Mapping the education data ecosystem in Sierra Leone (EdTech Hub with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone)
  9. Using EdTech to Support Learning Remotely in the Early Years. Rapid Literature Review of Evidence from the Global Response to Covid-19. (EdTech Hub Helpdesk Request)
  10. Monitoring Distance Education: A Brief to Support Decision-Making in Bangladesh and Other Low- and Lower-Middle-Income Countries (EdTech Hub)

L’utilisation des preuves pour renforcer la formation pédagogique à travers les technologies à Madagascar

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Cross-posted from https://edtechhub.org. Original post APRIL 23, 2021 BY CAITLIN MOSS COFLAN, SAALIM KOOMAR AND HASINIAVO RASOLOHERY. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Des lycéens de Soavinandriana, de la région Itasy, Madagascar, assistant à une séance de projection de vidéo éducative.
Crédit Photo: Hasiniavo Rasolohery, 2019

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Contexte

Madagascar fait face à un taux élevé de la pauvreté d’apprentissage; 97 pour cent des enfants en classe de primaire du pays ne sont pas capables de lire un texte en français adapté à leur âge (Banque mondiale 2019, sur données PASEC 2015). Nous savons que les enseignants ont une influence cruciale sur l’éducation des élèves; en 2019, seulement 15% des enseignants primaires Malagasy avaient la qualification nécessaire. Comment appuyer ces enseignants efficacement afin d’améliorer l’éducation des étudiants? Et comment cet appui pourrait être fourni à distance sur une grande échelle, en utilisant des technologies qui peuvent aider les communautés dont l’accès au réseau est faible? Malgré ladite éxistence de connexion à très haut débit , le faible taux de pénétration d’Internet montre que seuls 2.1% des Malagasy ont accès à Internet (Article Quartz, Lijadu, 2019).

Depuis la première incursion de EdTech Hub dans ces problèmes à travers un briefing du « Helpdesk » sur les initiatives de développement professionnel des enseignants dans les environnements à faible connectivité, nous avons travaillé avec le Ministère l’Éducation Nationale (MEN), L’Institut National de Formation Pédagogique (INFP), et la Banque Mondiale sur la première composante du Projet d’Appui à l’Education de Base pour étaler cet ensemble de défis. 16 000 enseignants de la première et deuxième année seront directement impliqués dans un pilotage de formation pédagogique (FP) dans le cadre de ce projet, afin d’améliorer les résultats des élèves en lecture et calcul. 

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Hello, I’m Björn, Director of Research

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This blog post is adapted from a post on the EdTech Hub website (https://edtechhub.org). Full acknowledgement below.

Björn Haßler
Director of Research

Following on from our recent blogs introducing the Hub and our focus on research, innovation and engagement, over the coming weeks the members of the Research Sphere will be writing about their work so far and introducing themselves and what has brought them to join the EdTech Hub. The first of these posts have been written by Björn Haßler. 

I’m Dr Björn Haßler, one of the three Directors of Research for the programme. Research, and particularly at-scale research, is a core focus for the #EdTechHub and that’s why we have three Directors of Research, who will also introduce themselves. I am — we all are — extremely happy that we have been awarded the programme. We, like all our competitors, worked hard for around 1.5 years until the final submission. However, this work paid off! It means we can get going on the important mission.

Here are a few things about my interests. My route to teaching and learning in low-income countries was a little indirect, but I suppose this holds for many EdTech practitioners and researchers. My PhD (now around 20 years ago) was in mathematics, with a practical focus on numerical models in climate change. During this time, I became interested in ‘public engagement in science’, which led to various projects (such as BlueSci and what later turned into Streaming Media Service) and eventually to working with teachers and low-income countries.

My research interests include teacher professional development and learning in resource-constrained environments (low-income countries and regions, including regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, etc). I’m particularly interested in peer-facilitated, school-based approaches with distributed leadership because these appear to have a more favourable balance between scalability, value for money and effectiveness.

Another interest (perhaps a bit more obvious, given my current role) is the use and role of technology (and digital) in education. I’m quite sceptical of some common approaches (such as tablets for children) because often these just aren’t scalable. I often say that there’s no question that technology use can effectively contribute to children’s learning in principle. For evidence, see the EEF toolkit here; what you also see is that this overview table (also from the EEF toolkit) rates different interventions by impact (on children’s learning) and cost. This leads us to the right question to ask: How does using technology (in an intervention) compare to using non-tech resources (in a comparable intervention)? In other words, what is the added advantage of using EdTech? How much extra learning can you get (in specific low-resourced contexts, such as many parts of rural Sub-Saharan Africa) for what cost per child? What is the right blend of approaches if the resources are constrained?

Let’s talk about some less common approaches and swing back to teacher professional development: We know that (the right kind of teacher professional development) can have a strong impact on children’s learning. What if you can use technology to enhance teacher learning? Then your hardware cost goes down from a cost per pupil (say 1000 pupils at a school) to a cost per teacher (say 20-40 teachers), gaining a factor of around 30 in hardware cost alone. Of course, you may not need one device per pupil, but likewise, you may not need one device per teacher. So what would you use that device for? Well, we do know that, e.g., video plays an important role in teacher development: Teachers watching videos of other teachers’ practice, teachers recording their own practice for the purpose of discussion and reflection.

So – starting to formulate some ideas for our tentative research agenda – what if you ran one teacher professional development programme without technology support and you ran a very similar teacher professional development programme but with technology support? This would allow you to determine the ‘differential’ impact of technology support: What is the impact of introducing technology (for teachers) on children’s learning? Clearly, this would have to be a fairly long-term experiment (at least one year), but you’d learn some very interesting things.

Look out for the upcoming posts from my fellow Directors of Research, Sara and David, and from the wider research team. Interesting times ahead at the #EdTechHub.

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Creative Commons acknowledgement for this blog post. Appropriate credit: The blog post is a minor adaptation of a content page appearing on The EdTech Hub (edtechhub.org) website at https://edtechhub.org/70-years-is-too-long/, and is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. Non-endorsement. We note that giving credit and building on this content does not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses opendeved.net or opendeved.net‘s use of the content.

Five starting points on innovation for the EdTech Hub

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This blog post is a cross-post from EdTech Hub‘s blog https://edtechhub.org/2019/10/23/five-starting-points-on-innovation-for-the-edtech-hub/ (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0). The blog post was written by Lea Simpson on the 23rd October 2019.

Lea Simpson, Director of Innovation, EdTech Hub

As the Director of Innovation for the EdTech Hub, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to how we’re building innovation into our work, with the aim of accelerating the scale of the best education technology… and showing others how to do the same.

If you haven’t read them already, check out Sara’s post on our approach to research and Susan’s overview on the Hub’s work as a whole. 

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Announcement of the EdTech Hub: UK aid funds world’s biggest educational technology research project

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The Overseas Development Institute, the REAL Centre (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge), Results for Development, Jigsaw, Brink and Open Development & Education, together with the World Bank, will partner with DFID to help improve the use of educational technology in low-income countries.

UK aid is joining forces with British universities, researchers and education experts from around the world to create the largest ever education technology research and innovation project.

More than 380 million children worldwide will finish primary schools without being able to read or do basic maths. One of the major challenges for education technology in parts of Africa and Asia is that while governments and schools focus on buying hardware such as laptops and tablets, opportunities for teachers to improve their practice (drawing on the use the technology) to support children’s learning.

The new UK aid supported Educational Technology Hub (the #EdTechHub) is bringing together universities, research companies and education experts to help children, teachers and governments in developing countries get up to speed with the new technology in their classrooms. The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with the World Bank on the EdTech hub, which aims to create the largest global body of research that looks at how education technology is being used and how this can be improved.

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Research and Innovation to Fulfil the Potential of EdTech

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70 YEARS IS TOO LONG TO WAIT

It will be 70 years before we achieve universal primary education for all children, according to the Global Education Monitoring Report’s business-as-usual scenario. How much longer until those children are learning well and their teachers are well-supported? 

70 years is too long to wait. We know technology has the potential to accelerate progress and increase equity — or, it could distract and exacerbate inequality. That’s why, a new programme — the EdTech Hub — we will galvanise a global community in pursuit of catalytic impact, focusing on evidence so we can collectively abandon what does not work and reallocate funding and effort to what does.

With support from UK Aid and in partnership with the World Bank and others, the EdTech Hub will work to advance knowledge and practice through research, innovation, and engagement. It is committed to using rigorous evidence and innovation to improve the lives of the most marginalised.

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