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Don't miss out on the announcements and articles below:

  1. You’re invited to our upcoming learning series: ‘EdTech and Covid-19: Lessons learned, future plans’ and ‘Access to learning: Learning to access’
  2. Coming soon: Our call for expressions of interest for at-scale research studies
  3. Read recent publications on interactive radio instruction and the use of WhatsApp in refugee education in Lebanon, as well as our country case studies.

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your colleagues and networks using this sign-up link.

You’re invited to the kick-off event of our event series:
A year of EdTech and Covid-19 


Speakers include David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education & Ranjitsinh Disale - Global Teacher Prizewinner 2020


Covid-19 has reshaped our world. It has been a year since schools shut their doors and we are running a series of events to reflect on the pandemic, school closures, and how these lessons can prepare us for an uncertain future. 

Our first event on March 2nd at 2 pm (GMT) ‘EdTech and Covid-19: Lessons learned, future plans’ will kick off the series. Sign up here

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, David Sengeh, and other high-level speakers will share their reflections on what they have learned leading the education response to Covid-19. We will also hear from an expert panel, including Ranjitsinh Disale - Global Teacher Prizewinner 2020 and Albert Nsengiyumva - Executive Secretary of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). These panelists have been on the frontlines of their education systems throughout Covid-19. The panel will consider what lessons have been learnt so far and how EdTech can be used in future school closures to address the learning gaps the pandemic has caused. We will then open it up to the audience to get your reflections and questions. 

At the event we will also launch our latest publication ‘EdTech and Covid-19: 10 things to know’ transformed into a video for you to watch here. It is a synthesis of our research from the last year and work across the education sector. You can also read the publication in English, French, and Arabic.

Another upcoming event in the series is a discussion on March 23rd at 2pm (GMT) titled ‘Learning to Access, Access to Learning’. This roundtable is a collaboration with the Cambridge Network for Disability and Education Research (CaNDER) and the University of Glasgow. Presenters will discuss the findings of our systematic literature review focusing on the extent to which EdTech is supporting the learning of children with disabilities in low and middle income countries. Join us and register here.

Watch this space as more events will be announced soon...

At-Scale Research - Call for expressions of interest

We are getting ready to launch our next call for expressions of interest at the Hub. This funding will focus on a series of at-scale research projects to investigate EdTech’s role in high-potential but low-evidence areas in low- and middle-income countries. Research projects will increase the amount of high-quality research evidence available regarding the impact of technology-based solutions to improve learning and education. We will soon be sending out more detail on how to apply!

Exploring the use of WhatsApp for refugee children in Lebanon
Asad Rahman

Over the last two months, EdTech Hub and Jusoor have been experimenting with the use of WhatsApp for out-of-school refugee children in Lebanon using EdTech Hub’s Sandbox method.

We have just completed Sprint 1 of the Sandbox. Activities included:

We conducted a survey of 196 parents and children to test the user feasibility of WhatsApp. 68% reported that there was only one smartphone in the family - the biggest perceived barrier to using Whatsapp. 

To test financial feasibility, we built a cost model of the intervention. For example, providing data cards to families would cost US$23 per month per family - the highest cost component of the intervention at 39% of the total. 


Find our more in our Sprint 1 Review.
Country case studies
Joel Mitchell

To inform our upcoming in-depth research in six focus countries, we have begun a series of country scoping reviews, which provide a rapid and rigorous synthesis of evidence on EdTech literature in each country in order to identify the most salient:

  • Evidence gaps in the research landscape
  • Research opportunities that are most likely to inform policy and practice
  • Priorities of the local research ecosystem

We completed our first country-scoping review in December, on Sierra Leone. Our contextual analysis required us to contact key research and policy stakeholders to understand the environment within which EdTech innovation is occurring in Sierra Leone, and what evidence gaps in the research landscape have the highest potential for impact.

We identified three promising high-potential evidence gaps in Sierra Leone, showing that the framework helps us complement the existing research and EdTech ecosystems:

  • Use of data systems technology for education management 
  • Use of radio technology for learning in appropriate languages
  • Use of multi-modal technology to support under-qualified educators.

Forthcoming reviews on Pakistan, Tanzania, Ghana, Bangladesh and Kenya will further illuminate the research priorities we will collaborate on in our focus countries.

Why the world needs a curriculum alignment hub
Taskeen Adam


In 2020, we began collaborating with Learning Equality, a nonprofit organisation supporting the creation, adaptation, and distribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) in disconnected environments. We’ve been working with Learning Equality to develop the idea of a curriculum alignment hub where individual efforts to address some of the challenges in adopting OER could become more powerful, receive recognition, and build upon one another.

We’ve just released a new concept note proposing a centralized curriculum alignment hub that:

  • Tracks existing alignment efforts
  • Houses a database of consultants who can support projects
  • Contains a venue for discussion 
  • Makes training materials for alignment efforts accessible

And in the spirit of openness, we’ve left the note as a Google Doc so you can leave your comments! Please take a read and share your feedback if you’re interested in helping us unpack what this hub may look like.

Learning from the Hub’s Covid-19 response grantees 
Chris McBurnie and Taskeen Adam


Over several months, we have been working with three organisations, eKitabu, Rising Academies, and Learning Equality to keep the most marginalised learning during school closures. 
 
On the 3rd of February, we hosted an event (watch the recording here) showcasing learnings from these three partners. We had presentations from Rising Academies, Learning Equality and eKitabu, followed by a rich discussion. 

Our work with Rising Academies was focused on how to use radio to keep marginalised children learning during school closures. As part of this work, the team from Rising adapted their curriculum to create the Rising on Air initiative: a 20-week programme of radio scripts and SMS content made freely available to organisations around the world. Since then, the initiative has reached over 12 million children in 26 countries at a cost of less than $0.05 per student.

Over the past few months, we have worked with the Rising team to develop a guide on implementing and evaluating radio education programmes. The guide contains practical instructions and advice on how to use radio lessons and complementary SMS materials to reach out-of-school children.

What we're reading
Check out these resources from other people and organizations:
  • UNICEF Innocenti research brief: Promising practices for equitable remote learning. Emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries
  • blog from Oxfam: Right now, it feels like anything can derail everything, so are theories of change still useful? which discusses the importance of the process of creating a theory of change, and how to do that in a virtual world.
  • RISE paperData Visualisations: Estimating COVID-19 related learning losses and effects of mitigation, suggests that “modelling projected learning losses and the learning effects of different mitigation strategies can help education leaders plan for school reopening that prioritises learning”
  • New World Bank evidence: Texting Parents about Early Child Development: Behavioral Changes and Unintended Social Effects. A paper outlining an intervention in Nicaragua that “led to significant changes in self-reported parenting practices [but] it did not translate into improvements in children's cognitive development.”
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EdTech Hub is a global non-profit research partnership. Our goal is to empower people by giving them the evidence they need to make decisions about technology in education.

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