We recently published a systematic literature review on EdTech for learners with disabilities. Through a review of published papers, we endeavoured to establish how successful EdTech has been in terms of viability, improving educational access, learner engagement, and learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. The review provides a synthesis of what we know from the evidence and identifies a number of promising, novel examples of learners with hearing and vision impairments using assistive technology apps to access the curriculum. It also highlights significant gaps in the existing knowledge base, especially a lack of large-scale evaluations.
All the winners are now eligible to receive a total of more than $1.5 million in awards to fund tools, technologies, platforms, and research projects ranging from interactive learning apps to on-demand tutoring.
Nearly 200 people joined to hear speakers Helen Grant MP (UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education) and David Sengeh (Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Head of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation) along with Ranjit Disale (Global Teacher Prize Winner 2020), Sarah Shaik, Deaf Reach, Pakistan), and Albert Nsengiyumva (Executive Secretary of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa).
UNICEF's Office of Global Insights and Policy is launching an exciting project on personalised learning. It will be a landscape analysis of tech-enabled personalised learning solutions in low- and middle-income countries. They will be profiling key design and implementation features of promising solutions.
If you know of a personalised learning EdTech product and think that the UNICEF team should have a look at it, please let the team know by filling in this survey. You can also write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attend our panel session ‘Equalising the playing field: Exploring the potential of digital technology to adapt learning in low-resource contexts’
Over the past few months, we have analysed and mapped the EdTech research landscape in Sierra Leone. In doing so, we met a number of organisations that are exploring if and how technology can support the country’s education sector. In this blog series, we interviewed individuals from these organisations to shed light on EdTech’s role in high-potential but low-evidence areas in low- and middle-income countries.
In the first week, we spoke with Abdulai Swaray and Bai Kamara from the Pikin-to-Pikin Movement. In this discussion, we heard more about how radio-based education can be used to keep girls and students in remote areas learning during emergencies.
In the second week, we visited Dr Samuel Moriba and Prince Brainard at Freetown Teachers College. In this conversation, we learned about the opportunities and challenges associated with WhatsApp-based communities of practice for in-service teacher professional development.
In the third week, we met with the team from Plan International who led the implementation of the Girls’ Access to Education programme with funding from UK Aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge. In this interview, we found out more about their work to deliver a distance teacher professional development programme to women in rural areas of Sierra Leone.
In 2020, the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel identified interventions that provide specific and context-relevant information to parents and children on the benefits of education as highly effective and low-cost at scale. These interventions, which we call “positive messaging,” can be used to increase participation in education during school closures, and hold potential for impact when schools reopen. Below are two insights we have gained about positive messaging over the past year:
Using messaging help parents support their children
Parents and caregivers are particularly important in supporting younger learners. Messaging can help not only to sensitize parents to information on education, but also to get parents and caregivers actively involved in using materials with children (⇡Jordan & Mitchell, 2020).
In a remote learning situation, we found that parents’ confidence to support their children is just as important a factor as their access to information about education. Messaging can be used to build parent and caregiver confidence in their abilities (see #Keep Kenya Learning campaign sandbox).
Positive responses from caregivers to messaging do not always translate into learning gains
Evidence from the early childhood development sector highlights some potential limits of low-cost messaging to parents and caregivers compared with more intensive interventions. A recent World Bank working paper found that while a daily text messaging programme improved caregivers’ self-reported parenting practices, it did not improve children’s cognitive or socio-emotional outcomes (⇡Barrera, et al., 2020).
In our recent work with Jusoor in Lebanon, which used WhatsApp to provide Syrian refugee communities access to remote learning, we found that families are often saturated with messaging. Only when messages provide practical, actionable information are they likely to be read, let alone taken up. And, while 67% of parents said they found the information helpful, the information did not translate into an increase in engagement with the remote learning programme (see Jusoor sandbox in Lebanon).
Future work will build on these lessons to probe how mobile phone-based nudges to caregivers can improve their engagement in education, specifically girls’ education, through work with Innovations for Poverty Action in Ghana under our Covid-19 research effort.
What we’re reading
Check out these resources from other people and organisations:
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. Read more about the Hub and access useful tools and resources on our website: https://edtechhub.org/
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