Education Endowment Foundation – Understanding quality characteristics of EdTech interventions and implementation for disadvantaged pupils

Key details

LocationUnited Kingdom
ClientsEducation Endowment Foundation


In 2019, the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) commissioned an evidence review on the impact of education technology on student attainment. The review highlighted the challenge of keeping abreast of research developments in the field of digital technology, which continues to evolve rapidly (⇡Lewin et al., 2019). Since the publication of this review, teachers across the world have turned to technology to ensure learning continuity for over 1.6 billion learners in lockdown (⇡Karboul, 2020). In England, over two-thirds of schools have introduced, upgraded, or increased their use of technology in this period (⇡CooperGibson Research, 2022).

In the wake of pandemic-induced school closures, teachers have been expected to select and implement new EdTech models without guidance on what works for what students. At present, the evidence base on education technology presents mixed messages about when and how to use technology in the classroom. For example, existing research indicates that disadvantaged students can benefit more from technology than advantaged students (⇡McNally et al., 2016; ⇡Takacs et al., 2015). At the same time, evidence indicates that the use of education technology can exacerbate learning inequality as disadvantaged students have less access to hardware and software (⇡Vicentini et al., 2022).

project overview

In this context, we are working with the EEF to analyse how the use of education technology can raise student attainment across subject domains, with a focus on disadvantaged pupils. The scope of the project goes beyond testing whether EdTech interventions and approaches work, to instead examine how they work. To do this, this research will identify the ‘active ingredients’ of interventions and approaches involving EdTech, from the design of the intervention to implementation.

Through a systematic review, the project uses a sequential mixed-methods approach to identify the mechanisms of EdTech interventions that improve attainment for pupils. The final report will aim to underpin EEF work on digital technology and could potentially serve a variety of purposes, including school facing outputs, future EEF research agendas and an update to the EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit.

teacher professional development programme

Key details

ClientsBritish Council


Development of the teacher professional development programme with global reach in a consortium of seven organisations. Trialling of materials in Lebanon. The programme was be undertaken both face-to-face, and online, delivered through the British Council learning platform.

Zambia’s Education Sector Support Technical Assistance Facility (ZESSTA)

Key details

ClientsCentre for Commonwealth Education

Effective teaching and learning of large cohorts in institutions of higher learning in Zambia: Challenges and opportunities


Higher education institutions (HEIs) in low-to high-income countries have experienced dramatic transformation due to increasing enrolment, use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and globalisation. There has been high demand for skills, products, and services in many professional areas. However, the overall demand has often not been matched with the developments in the HE sector, often failing to provide effective teaching and learning. One of the challenges, therefore, is how to provide quality teaching and learning for everybody who wishes to access higher education. The Zambian higher education environment has been in existence for roughly four decades and has had its own opportunities, dynamism as well as challenges in the management of large classes.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia’s (GRZ) Ministry of Higher education (MoHE) oversees a number of HEIs. There are three public HEIs, namely University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University (CBU), and Mulungushi University (MU). The Zambian higher education system has been in existence since 1966, with the University of Zambia being the oldest public institution. The second oldest and largest is CBU. These HEIs have associated “new” universities, often former colleges (respectively e.g. Chalimbana University; Mukuba University, Kapasa Makasa University Campus; Nkrumah University). The Higher Education Authority (HEA) accredits all HEIs (public and private). A number of colleges (including around 300 TVET colleges) come under MoHE, while other tertiary institutions are administered under the Ministry of General Education (colleges of education), or the Ministry of Health (health colleges). Admissions requirements vary, with e.g. Grade 9 required by TEVETA, but Grade 12 being the norm for most colleges of education and universities.

Demand for higher education has increased, whereas access for many, especially poor, families has been limited. Public institutions have grappled with how to serve large numbers, while private institutions proliferate to respond to demand. Despite the increase in enrolment, institutions both in low-to high-income countries are determined to find solutions on how to improve the learning environment in their respective contexts.

Additional challenges include lack of infrastructure or poor infrastructure; less than relevant programs; lack of internationalization and regional cooperation (Wolhuter & Wiseman, 2013); delayed policy (or policy implementation) for regulating the higher education sector; and the lack of specialised skills to promote new paradigms of learning. Such challenges and situations they create can exacerbate the problem of large classes in higher education.

Often the traditional mode of teaching is largely face-to-face with the lecturer being the main supplier of knowledge to the students. Interaction among the group of national HEIs is often varied, depending on programme being offered. As far as large class strategies and solutions are concerned, there is little or no evidence that shows significant collaboration or other efforts meant to assist in resolving large class/cohort scenario prevailing in the HEI. Moreover, conditions for students in rural and remote areas are extremely challenging, confounded by the lack of affordable internet access and energy supply.


Key details

LocationZambia, Kenya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone
ClientsCentre for Commonwealth Education

The OER4Schools programme is a school-based teacher professional development programme initiated in Zambia around 2010 and later expanded to other countries such as Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

OER4Schools in Zambia

OER4Schools aimed to improve the quality of education in sub-Saharan Africa through research and teacher professional development. The programme developed substantial open materials for work-based teacher education (OER4Schools), including self-paced elements. 

Through our research in Zambia, we developed a practical professional development (PD) programme for school-based teacher education, supporting teachers to embed interactive methods of teaching and learning into classroom practice through the exploitation of mobile technologies. It moves beyond technology and skills-focused initiatives by highlighting the crucial role of teacher support in promoting innovation and experimentation with teaching styles.

Our overall goal was to focus on learning, meeting the challenge of moving away from superficial repetition of facts towards deeper learning and understanding. We aim to develop teachers’ capability to use tablets, netbooks, e-book readers, Open Educational Resources (OER), and Open Source software effectively to support students’ learning in mathematics and science through active participation, dialogue, and collaborative enquiry.

Our participatory approach especially values the ‘voices’ of everybody involved. The research is founded on principles of effective pedagogy in teacher education and classroom teaching in sub-Saharan Africa. The professional learning programme is suitable for low-resourced primary schools and colleges (combined with teaching practice) and is freely available as an OER.
The resource consists of 28 two-hour sessions, organised in five units, covering interactive teaching principles, group work, questioning, dialogue, Assessment for Learning, and enquiry-based learning. Each session is clearly structured and includes unique, professionally filmed video exemplars of interactive practices in Zambian and South African classrooms, accompanying texts co-authored with teachers, and facilitator notes. It builds on an established, sustained teacher-led process for sharing and trialing new practices and digital resources; peer observation; discussion, and joint reflection.

Mpumelelo High School (Zimbabwe) & FHNW Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz 

The programme was adapted for a secondary school in Zimbabwe, as part of an educational technology-enabled programme.

  • Publications
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Hofmann, R. (2018). Sustaining and Scaling Pedagogic Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Grounded Insights For Teacher Professional Development. Journal of Learning for Development, 5(1).
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Hofmann, R. (2020). The OER4Schools professional development programme: Outcomes of a sustained trial in sub-Saharan Africa. Frontiers in Education, 5(146).
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Lubasi, B. (2011). Changing classroom practice using a school-based professional development approach to introducing digital resources in Zambia. Itupale Online Journal of African Studies, 3, 17–31.
    Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Hofmann, R. (2015). Pedagogic change by Zambian primary school teachers participating in the OER4Schools professional development programme for one year. Research Papers in Education, 31(4), 399–427.
    Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Hofmann, R. (2015). Challenges and opportunities for teacher professional development in interactive use of technology in African schools. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(5), 1–28.
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., Lord, T., Cross, A., Jackson, A., & Simpson, M. (2011). An investigation of appropriate new technologies to support interactive teaching in Zambian schools (ANTSIT). A joint report from Aptivate and the Centre for Commonwealth Education (University of Cambridge). Final Report to DfID. Aptivate and University of Cambridge.
    Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Mwewa, G. (2012). Using digital technology and school-based professional development to leverage interactive classroom teaching in Zambia. In J. MacBeath, M. Younger, & C. Sugrue (Eds.), Millennium Goals Revisited: A Common Wealth of Learning. Routledge.
    Haßler, B. (2020). OER4Schools - Research Overview.
    Goldie-Scot, M., Hollows, S., Hennessy, S., Mathew, P., Delbridge-Smith, P., & Haßler, B. (2018). Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the Commonwealth - Status Update Report. Commonwealth Secretariat.
    Lawrie, J., Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Bhandigadi, P. (2015). Recommendation 7: Use ICT to provide access to content, professional development and professional learning communities. In Where it’s needed most: Quality professional development for all teachers (pp. 131–143). Inter-agency network for education in emergencies.
    Lawrie, J., Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Bhandigadi, P. (2015). Use ICT to provide access to content, professional development and professional learning communities (Chapter 7). In M. Burns & J. Lawrie (Eds.), Where It’s Needed Most: Quality Professional Development for All Teachers. Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies.
    Hennessy, S., Dreyer, J., Paulsen, R., Haßler, B., Loubser, C., Beardon, T., & Mays, T. (2014, March). Professional learning with ICT in the southern African context: The UNISA-Cambridge collaboration on Advanced Diplomas in Education. Prezi. 5th Higher Education & ICT Forum: 21st Century Learning and Collaborative Teaching, Johannesburg, South Africa.
    Hennessy, S., & Haßler, B. (2013). A new approach and open resources for school-based teacher professional development in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Jestaz, C. (2012). ORBIT and OER4Schools: supporting effective primary and secondary school practice through OER. Proceedings of Cambridge 2012: Innovation and Impact - Openly Collaborating to Enhance Education, 311–317.
    Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Cross, A. (2014). School-based professional development in a developing context: Lessons learnt from a case study in Zambia. Professional Development in Education, 41(5), 1–20.
    Haßler, B., Major, L., & Hennessy, S. (2016). Tablet use in schools: a critical review of the evidence for learning outcomes. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32(2), 139–156.
    Major, L., Haßler, B., & Hennessy, S. (2017). Tablet use in schools: impact, affordances and considerations. In Handbook on Digital Learning for K-12 Schools (pp. 115–128). Springer.
    Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S., & Nichol, B. (2016). A short guide on the use of technology in learning: Perspectives and Toolkit for Discussion. Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
    Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S., & Nichol, B. (2016). Perspectives on Technology, Resources and Learning - Productive Classroom Practices, Effective Teacher Professional Development. Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
  • Resources
    Hennessy, S., & Haßler, B. (2012, 2015). The OER4Schools Professional Learning Resource: Interactive teaching with and without ICT. A practical programme for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa.
    Hennessy, S., & Haßler, B. (2014). The OER4Schools Professional Learning Resource: Interactive teaching with and without ICT. A practical programme for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa - Facilitators’ Version.
    Hennessy, S., & Haßler, B. (2014). The OER4Schools Professional Learning Resource: Interactive teaching with and without ICT. A practical programme for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa - Additional Materials.
    Haßler, B. (2014). The OER4Schools Professional Learning Resource: Interactive teaching with and without ICT. A practical programme for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa - Participants’ Version.
    Hennessy, S., & Haßler, B. (2014). The OER4Schools Professional Learning Resource: Interactive teaching with and without ICT. A practical programme for teachers in sub-Saharan Africa - Participants’ Version. The Centre for Commonwealth Education.
  • See more of OER4SCHOOL in our Evidence Library



ClientsCentre for Commonwealth Education

Our research in Zambia investigated mobile forms of digital technology used to embed interactive forms of teaching and learning into classroom practice. The project explored what kinds of mobile devices and uses can create an environment supportive of learning through active participation and collaborative inquiry within under-resourced and under-privileged school communities. It also examined the constraining factors. The specific focus was on using netbook, tablet and laptop computers, e-Book and wiki readers, digital cameras and mini-projectors along with Open Educational Resources and Open Source software to support students’ learning in mathematics and science. We evaluated a variety of educational ICTs in two Zambian primary schools over 30 visits in a period of 6 months. Data collection methods included interviews, post-lesson surveys, classroom observations, and video recordings. The work was carried out by Aptivate in conjunction with the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge, and with iSchool Zambia.

Our recommendations include:
● ICTs should be procured in sets comprising a teacher laptop and student laptops, as well as provision for storage and transport.
● Continuing professional development opportunities are essential for teachers to become familiar with the mobile technologies and to make creative use of them.
● ICTs should be used in conjunction with non-ICT resources, such as mini blackboards, because these add significant value cheaply.
● Robust and cheap netbooks (e.g. the Classmate netbook) are presently the best candidates for classroom use. Android-based tablets can support interactive, collaborative learning effectively but technically (in version 2.2) they are not yet ready (early 2011). Keyboard-based data entry in Flash games can be particularly difficult. However, devices running Android 3.0 should be considered for future procurements, including an investigation of suitable onscreen keyboard or docking stations.
● We would not recommend mixing devices within a single class, but if more than one class set of computers was procured, it may make sense to purchase a set of netbooks (for tasks requiring a standard operating system), as well as a set of tablets. However, cost and setup/maintenance issues need to be considered.
● Teacher and student laptops need to be configured well so that effort expended in lesson preparation is not prohibitive.
● Resource sharing with student laptops needs to be considered; local wireless networks can be deployed effectively to achieve this.
● Teachers want laptops to allow them to study outside of school. Microfinance could allow teachers to buy laptops which would build their skills and promote successful application of ICTs in schools.

Overview and aims of this research project

We worked with the teachers to develop lesson plans around the chosen ICTs, paying particular attention to adopting active, inquiry-based learning approaches that research indicates are most effective. Various forms of qualitative data were then gathered to characterise how the chosen technologies were used in this context and how they were perceived. These included interviews with teachers, students, head-teachers, post-lesson surveys, classroom observations, and video recordings of seven lessons. Analysis of this data allowed us to determine which technology-lesson combinations held up best, logistically and pedagogically. The key design principles underlying this process included:

● Participatory approach valuing the voices of practicing teachers and students in the global South in articulating their needs.
● Triangulation of perspectives of research team, teachers and learners
● Triangulation of methods
● Alignment of project and classroom goals
● Ongoing assessment throughout the intervention
● Attention to gender ● Sustainability

21st century learning in Zambia


ClientsCentre for Commonwealth Education


The programme is a school-based teacher professional development programme initiated in Zambia around 2010 and later expanded to other countries such as Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

This video showcases 21st century learning in Zambia, illustrated by two projects: iSchool (now Mwabu) and OER4Schools. In the video

EdTech Hub – National Numeracy Programme Malawi

Key details

Clients Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
PartnersResults for Development, University of Cambridge, Brink, Jigsaw


In 1994, the Government of Malawi introduced free primary education, while a necessary and positive step, this led to a surge in student enrolment with massive demands on the education system. This resulted in large class sizes and a lack of infrastructure, educators, and teaching and learning materials, in turn resulting in low learning outcomes, particularly in the foundational years, which comprise most school enrolments.

In this context, in 2020, the Malawi Ministry of Education (MoE) partnered with Cambridge Education (Mott McDonald) to set up the UKAid-funded National Numeracy Programme (NNP).

Through the NNP, the MoE aims to improve learning outcomes in mathematics in Standards 1–4.

In 2021, the government piloted the NNP in 203 schools. From September 2022 to August 2023 (the school year), over 1,100 schools in different regions of Malawi participated in an extended pilot programme. In the future, the MoE plans to scale the programme so that every learner in public primary schools can be part of this initiative

During Term 1 of the 2022–2023 school year, EdTech Hub worked with the department implementing the NNP (Department of Quality Assurance, Ministry of Education) to conduct implementation research to inform the development of the NNP. The Hub carried out in-depth qualitative research in four schools to obtain feedback on NNP materials from teachers, head teachers, and primary education advisors (also known as PEAs).

The research focused on the core components of the NNP model — the learner workbooks, the teacher guides, the school-based teacher learning circles, and the cascade model, combined with the multiplier model of training. Findings suggest that, although the NNP represents an improvement on the previous curriculum, some components, in particular, the Teacher Learning Circles (TLCs) and the learner workbooks, need to be revised and refined to increase the effectiveness of the programme.

Building on these findings, EdTech Hub proposed a new phase of design-based implementation research (DBIR) to be undertaken in Term 2 of the 2022–2023 school year, with the purpose of refining the school-based teacher continuous professional development (TCPD) model of the NNP.

Our support to the National Numeracy Programme is part of our work for the

For further details on the EdTech Hub work in Malawi, see

Correa de Oliveira, A., Kanyoza, C., Lurvink, A.-F., Boilo, V., Kadzamira, E., & Haßler, B. (2023). Teaching and Learning of Mathematics in the Context of the National Numeracy Programme in Malawi: Findings from a Rapid In-depth Qualitative Study [Working Paper]. EdTech Hub.
Oliveira, A. C. de, Kanyoza, C., Boilo, V., Chidothi, E., Kadzamira, E., Mpoola, D., McBurnie, C., Phiri, M., & Haßler, B. (2022). Teaching and learning of mathematics in the context of the National Numeracy Programme: Finding from a rapid in-depth qualitative study [Technical Report]. EdTech Hub.

You can also view those resources in our Evidence Library here:

Evidence in Education


Start date2019
End dateOngoing
Clients Various

BACKGROUND is a service that allows organisations to share their information and resources, including the registration of CrossRef DOIs.


OpenDevEd is building tools to create a online evidence libraries. The evidence library can be used by organisations and institutions to either publicly share information and resources, optimally disseminating reports with DOIs and search engine optimisations.

Review of Kenya School of TVET curriculum


Start dateAugust 2023
End dateOctober 2023
Clients Zizi Afrique Foundation


A combination of studies on youth in the formal, informal, and self-employment sectors reveal that, although technical skills are necessary to make youth more employable, life skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are the most important capabilities for employability across all sectors. Life skills are important to TVET trainees because youth who can combine cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy with soft skills are more likely to succeed at work and in life.

The Zizi Afrique Foundation (ZAF) has taken the opportunity to collaborate with the Kenya School of TVET (KS-TVET) to review the latter’s Life Skills Curriculum. Open Development & Education (OpenDevEd) are contracted to review and enhance this curriculum, focusing on four key areas of improvement: industry involvement, delivery methods, assessment methods, and contextualising content. The goal of the project is to help bridge the gap between education and employment, through ensuring TVET graduates have the skills and knowledge to succeed effectively in the workplace.


OpenDevEd are responsible for the following activities:

  • Conducting desk research and engaging with stakeholders and past students to outline further areas for improvement
  • Incorporating consultations with 10 TVET departments to tailor the curriculum with industry-specific skills and cases
  • Improving delivery methods to include student-centred pedagogies and engaging, practice-oriented activities
  • Further developing assessment methods to integrate industry-tailored knowledge
  • Employing agile, iterative development to produce an improved, nine-module curriculum, validated by KS-TVET


Programme outputs will be published when made available on our Evidence Library.

Technical assistance to KfW education programme portfolio


LocationJordan & Palestinian Territories
Start dateMay 2023
End dateApril 2024
Clients KfW Entwicklungsbank


German development bank KfW has established itself as a major funder of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes and partnerships in low- and middle-income countries. In 2021, with a budget of EUR 4.9 billion, it dedicated nearly 60% of its new education funding contracts to TVET programmes.

Open Development & Education (OpenDevEd) has been contracted by KfW to provide conceptual / technical advice and analysis during the implementation and further elaboration of a portfolio of projects in the Middle East:

  • “Quality Improvement for Basic Education II (Digitalisation)” in Jordan
  • “Supporting TVET through digital transformation processes” in Jordan
  • “UNRWA Digital Transformation in Health and Education” in the Palestinian Territory of Gaza


OpenDevEd are providing the following key activities in support of the programme portfolio:

  • Creating terms of reference and programme activity designs for project feasibility studies
  • Development of technical and conceptual programme appraisal concepts, in line with existing strategies and funding
  • Conducting discussions with potential partners and stakeholders
  • Reviewing and providing analysis of budget reprogramming and disbursement requests
  • Reviewing and providing guidance on programme progress, providing support with key mission documents


Programme outputs will be published when made available on our Evidence Library.