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9 EduTech Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Digital Response

By Guest Writer on September 2, 2020

 educational technology

Since the onset of coronavirus, the EduTech Hub Helpdesk Team has responded to requests from DFID advisers and World Bank staff across 15 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to review and provide input on various COVID-19 digital response documents. Below we share a list of nine takeaways.

Most of these takeaways came out of the coronavirus-specific context, but they have wider relevance than just pandemic response. They’re good ideas for any educational technology decision-makers to consider, at any time.

1. Use what already exists

Back in 2013, the World Bank published a post saying: “The best technology is the one you already have, know how to use, and can afford.” Wise words. Our research suggests that EdTech programmes are more successful if they spend more time considering what digital infrastructure already exists, and how it could be put to better use.

Data on things like internet coverage, mobile phone or radio ownership and existing digital content are useful, particularly if they focus on accessibility to specific marginalised groups (eg girls.) See our recent post about building ICT infrastructure in a pandemic for more.

2. Owning a device isn’t enough for learning

Owning a digital device doesn’t mean it’s being used in specific ways, and doesn’t mean that a child is learning. Uwezo data from Kenya shows that while 62% of Kenyan households own a radio, only about 19% of Kenyan learners tune into radio lessons.

Meanwhile, a smaller percentage (45%) of Kenyan households own a television, but 42% of Kenyan learners are tuning into educational TV. It’s useful for decision-makers to collect data on how learners and their families use (or don’t use) devices.

Data on how learners and their families use (or don’t use) devices and engage with programming should be continuously collected and used to inform and improve projects.

3. Sometimes paper works just fine

In countries where ICT infrastructure is very limited, printed materials are still a great way of reaching the most marginalised learners. We’ve seen several EdTech programmes designed with this in mind.

For example, one project proposed that learners drop their completed paper assignments at a central location for community teachers to review. We loved this idea as a solution to keep both learners and teachers engaged. What would take it to the next level?

Maybe closing the loop by actually returning assignments to learners with constructive feedback from their teachers; this enables teacher-learner interaction.

4. Distance learning needs pedagogy

As we wrote in a recent paper, good pedagogical practices are crucial to encourage students to engage in learning while schools are closed. That includes things like well-structured interactive lessons with frequent checks for understanding, and meeting needs of individual learners. It is all too common for teachers to create audio or video content by reading straight from a textbook.

Unfortunately, we know this doesn’t engage learners. Instead, curating high-quality digital learning content may increase learners’ access to excellent pedagogy in two ways. It is more likely to expose students to pedagogy that they wouldn’t experience in the classroom; and means teachers can focus more on “teacher presence” and engaging their students, rather than on generating original content. And on that subject:

5. Curate content rather than create it

Generating new unique digital content takes time and costs money. We recommend investing that time in researching the content that already exists, and curating it around learning objectives.

Clustering content around learning levels and objectives may be more efficient and more responsive to learner needs than providing content to cover the entire curriculum for each grade. The Guide to Accelerated Education Principles is a useful starting point.

6. Hardware needs to be targeted and supported

Hardware dumping does not work, but targeted provision of hardware to specific groups can be helpful. For example, we have seen some very reasonable proposals to provide solar powered radios or other devices with preloaded content to marginalised learners.

But programme designers should think more about what’s needed beyond hardware: things like digital literacy support for children and for those supporting their learning, and how to maintain devices. Communication campaigns help keep families aware of ways to access distance learning, and keep learners, parents, and caregivers attuned to safeguarding concerns.

7. Involve parents and ‘home teachers’

A recent study from the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development points to the important role that parents and siblings play in remote learning. For children living in rural Bangladesh, 35% received support from a sibling or relative and 24% received support from their mother while studying at home.

The upshot is clear: just as we need many different ways to reach learners, we need many different ways to reach parents too, including low-tech and no-tech options.

8. Be careful with incentives and accountability

No matter how well-intentioned they are, incentives that encourage student and teacher attendance and engagement can sometimes backfire. Sometimes, they can make equity issues worse.

This is especially true during a global pandemic when children and families are encountering stressful circumstances. Students aren’t helped by assignment grades without constructive feedback from teachers. Teachers in some rural locations might have limited access to technology and electricity so won’t be able to participate in virtual professional development activities through no fault of their own.

Carefully consider the possible negative consequences before rolling out any incentive scheme.

9. Stay nimble

It’s good to make detailed, specific plans, but those plans should include a series of reflect-and-adapt moments where it is not only accepted but expected that things will change based on what’s happened so far. Rather than plan a year’s worth of educational content in advance, maybe curate a few weeks’ worth, see how that works, and use what you learn to plan a few more.

By Rachel Chuang, Tom Kaye, Saalim Koomar, Chris McBurnie, and Caitlin Moss Coflan and originally published as Nine takeaways from our reviews of COVID-19 education responses

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One Comment to “9 EduTech Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Digital Response”


    Research and Trading

    Designation: Managing Director –
    Duties: A Senior Management Consultant operating in areas of Strategic Planning, Qualitative and Quantitative Research, Operations Research in Human Capital Planning and Development, Virtual Innovative Entrepreneurship, How to Start and Run a Business, Customer Care, Leadership & Management, Education, Curriculum Development , Continuous Learning and Career Guidance, Sustainable Community Development, Human Resources Management, Organizational Development, Labour, Chairing of Mediation and Negotiation Meetings, Authorship in Gender Issues, Published Peer Reviewed Education & Business Articles, Activism in Organic Farming, Gender Equality, Governance, Progressive Culture, and Alphabet- Innovation & IT based Community Programs, Programs Complimenting the Current Education Systems, and the Fettmer Virtual Enterprise Employment Creation Open University System- a new education concept stretching from Early Childhood Development , through Primary, Secondary and University Level including Teacher Education.

    1.0 Background
    The pre-1980 education philosophy for the majority of the population was education for employment by a given Boss and consumption of the manufactured products from the Boss’ firm. Only a neglible percentage of the population could proceed to higher education, ( that is study beyond “O” Level) as was shown by the establishment of only 6 “A” Level schools for the whole country. However by 1980. The introduction of removed classes offering practicl subjects was not welcome as it was viewed as a discriminatory system of education denying academic studies to students who had not performed well at the end of primary. Instead of expanding the curriculum to include both academic and practical subject and the revisit other perspectives to the curriculum in order to mould learners into professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit, the Removed Class Programme was removed. So more job seekers continued to be churned out.

    2.0 Introduction
    An increase in unemployment was experienced during the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme(ESAP) when the government stopped determining minimum wages as it had been advised by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the late eighties to early nineties, to effect economic reforms such as retrenching employees in the public sector in order to check on the national expenditure. Come Black Friday, 14 November 1997 when war veterans demanded and were given a one- time payout of Z$50 000 each and offered Z$2000 monthly pension payments, an expenditure that had not been budgeted for. Zimbabwe had incurred other expenditure through participating in wars in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of he Congo. The increased national expenditure reduced the service sector budget, education being one of the affected service sectors. The education system could not receive the budget required to fund resources needed by the academic curriculum, let alone one with a high resource- demanding- practical curriculum. It is no surprise that the education system continued to churn out graduates who sought employment but could not come across such an opportunity to get employed.

    The first nail in the coffin of the Zimbabwean economy was fixed in 2000 with the unplanned distribution of land. Most new farmers without professional training in farming moved onto the farms. Resultantly, agro-processing industries and service providing companies to the agricultural sector, gradually folded up, thereby leaving people and families stranded. Therefore, since year 2000, job seekers on the labour market continued to increase continued to increase as graduates came out of the education system with a limited budget.
    The second nail in the coffin of the Zimbabwean economy was fixed in May 2005, the year when Murambatsvina(Operation remove dirt) was conducted. This operation destroyed livelihoods of some 700 000 households leaving them unemployed and children denied of their education. Other livelihoods were destroyed by the election violence of 2002, 2008, 2013, 2018 leaving some people displaced and unemployed.
    As of today in 2020 Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is 95%, and an estimated 50% unemployed graduates added to the labour market per annum most of whom live in impoverished communities having passed through an under resourced competency based curriculum. The hope is that the Alphabet Entrepreneurship Development Innovation ( AEDI) based Fettmer Virtual Enterprise Employment Creation Open Community University (FVEECOCU) and its AEDI based Community programmes should be able to address unemployment and poverty in Zimbabwe and other marginalized communities of countries in the global village.
    The operation of AEDI based FVEECOCU and its AEDI based Community Programmes will start in Zimbabwe representing Africa , in the four continents, there will be FVEECOCU centres running AEDI based Community Programmes and eventually in two years time set up Fettmer Virtual Enterprise, Employment Creation Open Community University in each continent. In Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole, the targeted groups will constitute 52% of women in Zimbabwe and other African countries, and in other countries of the global village.

    3.0 Rationale
    The rationale for introducing the Alphabet Entrepreneurship Development Innovation is its applicability to all industries and its promotion of leadership responsibilities of;
    • moulding any gender of retired and practising professionals who are existing and aspiring enterprise owner employers from any industry into Trainers who become Collaborating Partners in the implementation of the Alphabet Innovation,

    • collaborative nurturing of leadership of any gender (politicians, chiefs, policy makers, civic society, pastors/priests, refugee officials, welfare NGO officials, social workers) with an entrepreneurial spirit, the desire to support policies creating an enabling business environment, and
    the zeal to train members of marginalized communities, women, youth, the physically challenged, refugees, the in and out of correctional services to also become professional enterprise owner employers of self and others as well as Collaborating Partners,

    • collaborative nurturing of any gender consisting of retired and practising educationists who in turn will nurture school learners and tertiary level students become upright citizens who are professional enterprise owner employers of self and others, upright citizens who are field experts employed in public, private and civic sectors and are able to also become enterprise owner employers of self and others when need be,

    • continuously increasing registered enterprises by professional enterprise owner employers of any gender,

    • applying AEDI not just in any industry but also in aspects of the education curriculum like school schemes of work, lesson planning/university programme designing and course planning, teaching methodology and assessment of the school subjects/ university courses,

    • promoting organization and aesthetic appreciation (alphabet landscaping, alphabet interior décor, please note that if its more than one letter of the alphabet, they should always be consecutive letters of the alphabet)

    • promoting climate change (embark on light industry utilizing solar energy, instead of fuel)

    • addressing environmental degradation (Alphabet re-afforestation and Alphabet planting along slopes)

    • promoting organic farming and human health, (alphabet organic farmed vegetables),

    • promoting polishing of precious stones into alphabet precious stone jewellery( eg diamond and gold jewellery
    • promoting the creation of national wealth, (enterprises, landscaping, re-afforestation, light industry using solar energy, organic farming) and
    • increasing trade and an improvement in the national balance of payment (conducting community-fund-raising-fairs selling alphabet products or any other innovative products utilizing local raw material)

    4.0 Values
    • Local resources utilitarianism
    • Appreciation of locally manufactured products
    • Creativity & Innovation
    • Respect
    • Perseverance
    • Smart working

    5.0 Goals
    5.1 To nurture aspiring entrepreneurs in business and education sectors as well as in marginalized communities
    5.2 To promote aesthetic appreciation
    5.3 To promote environmental degradation
    5.4 To promote climate change
    5.5 To promote conservation agriculture
    5.6 To promote the polishing of diamonds into alphabet precious stones jewellery, for instance, diamond and gold jewellery
    5.7 To promote the creation of national wealth,
    5.8 To promote community fund raising fairs for innovative products made from local raw materials
    5.9 To increase trade and the balance of payment

    6.0 Objectives
    6.1 To design e-Train the Trainer Content for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs in the business and education sectors and in the community.
    AEDI based Train the Trainer

    6.2 To offer the e- Train the Trainer Content as virtual self-paced learning content with practical continuous assessment (65%) and academic examinations(35%for stipulated periods indicating dates and time,)
    AEDI Based Train The Trainer

    6.3 To introduce the AEDI based Corporate Social Responsibility Programme that includes Alphabet landscaping, re-afforestation and conservation farming of potatoes for alphabet potato chips, as well as AEDI based sport, expressive and visual arts as well as other forms of home entertainment(traditional games and designing of an AEDI based Zimbabwean monopoly on a continuous basis.
    AEDI BASED Corporate Social Responsibility Programme

    6.4 To introduce the design of selected industry based alphabet products, alphabet technology, and appropriate assembly lines resulting in hand making or automated manufacturing utilizing solar energy.
    AEDI Based Level I to III Part I

    6.5 To agree with Collaborating Partners on the creation and offering of a one year on -the-job-training opportunities in various industry lines of business, such as polishing of precious stones into alphabet jewellery to members of marginalized communities
    AEDI based Level III Part II

    6.6 To organize community fund raising fairs for innovative products made from local raw materials weekly for resident communities, quarterly in school clusters, and half yearly for tertiary institutions guided by the Standard Association Zimbabwe and Zimtrade
    Community Fund Raising Fair

    7.1 Programmes Addressing Unemployment And Poverty.
    There are six AEDI based practical and academic programmes including the launch collectively providing the answer to unemployment and poverty. The programmes are as follows:
    7.1.1 The AEDI based Corporate Social Responsibility Programme (CSRP);
    7.1.2The Alphabet Entrepreneurship Development Innovation (AEDI) Launch;

    7.1.3 The AEDI based Fettmer Virtual Enterprise Employment Creation Open Community University (FVEECOCU)
    The FVEECOCU competency based curriculum consists of the Zimbabwean Education System (ZES)’s Competency based Curriculum and the Alphabet Entrepreneurship Development Innovation based Compliment of ZES Curriculum Aspects( such as the perspective towards subjects, the school subject schemes of work and lesson plans, or university programme course outline and course planning, the teaching methodology, time tabling, the Assessment, the education system structure and practical and academic path)
    FVEECOCU through he Faculty of Sustainable Community Development, Transformation and Happiness
    reaches out to the community through the AEDI Community Programmes cited below. The AEDI based Community Programmes :
    (1) AEDI based Levels I with no entry requirements;
    (2) AEDI based Level II with no entry requirements;
    (3) AEDI based Level III consisting of Part I with entry requirements of Grade 7, or Primary School Certificate and
    (4) AEDI based Level III Part II –on- the -job -training

    Cited below are other important AEDI based Programmes.
    7.1.4 AEDI based Compliment to the Current Formal and Non-Formal Education system competency based curriculum
    7.1.5 Keeping alive the spirit of entrepreneurship in everyday life through media, Expressive and Visual Arts
    7.1.6 AEDI based Community Fund Raising

    These AEDI based Programmes are implemented through Collaborating Partners who initially undergo the AEDI based Train the Trainers’ Programme and become Trainers. These prospective Trainers are either aspiring or practising enterprise owner employers and their main collaboration task is offering on the job training, Level III Part II.

    In order for Fettmer Consulting (Pvt) Ltd to initiate a results oriented Train the Trainers’ Program, Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, the AEDI Launch, the AEDI based Community Programmes (CP) and the setting up of the Fettmer Virtual Enterprise Employment Creation Open Community University (FVEECOCU, which will eventually house the Community Programme) and in turn for the Collaborators to offer on- the- job-training opportunities, offer Train the Trainers’ Programme for educationists in schools and tertiary education institutions, embark on media, expressive and visual arts based programmes to keep the spirit of entrepreneurship alive, as well as initiating the AEDI based Community Fund Raising Fair, seed capital is required as indicated in the budget below.

    No. Detail Expenditure Revenue Capital Total
    Capital 1 434 050
    1 Land Purchase on 2 hectares 100 000
    2 Application form fee 2 000
    3 Institutional registration 10 000
    4 Institutional first visit fee 6 000
    5 Institutional second visit fee 3 000
    6 Administration fee 10 000
    7 Accreditation of Programme Fee 2 500
    Infrastructure construction
    3 Factory blocks, (ECD, Primary, Secondary and University) also used for holiday classes, and video conferencing with other education institutions and communities
    4x US$ 28 000
    1 Block for kitchen and canteen
    1x US$7 000
    2 Sporting facilities and equipment
    3 US$ 10 00 300 000
    9 Beginning of Semester I for Schools and University
    1.Motivational speech from the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, Secondary, Primary and ECD school heads
    2.The development of University Programme Courses, School Schemes of work and Lesson Plans,
    3. University Semester/ School Term AEDI based continuous Assignments and examinations
    Beginning of Semester II
    1. Review of continuous assessments and examination performance trends of individual school learners/university students , school/university classes, &
    2. Comparisons among departments and faculties with respect to the following:
    • Teaching methodology
    • The e-Content
    • School Syllabus/University Programme Course outline
    • AEDI based Continuous Assessment & Examinations 72 000
    10 2 Guards (safety and gardening) earning US$300 per month

    72 000
    11 2 Nurses (work 24/7 attending to emergencies and making referrals to bigger hospitals earns U$800 00 per month

    192 000
    12 IT Equipment
    Internet 1000 x 12=12000
    12 000
    13 Office (10 tablets at US$50
    5 x US$ 50 =500
    14 10 HP Desk Top Computer at US$ 700(
    5 x 700= 3 500 3 500

    15 5 Cellphones x US$700 2 100
    16 2 digital cameras US$ 1 500 3 000
    17 2 video camera x US$ 1000 1 000
    18 10 Memory cards x US$100 1 000
    19 20 Flash disks x US$10 200
    20 3 computer back up hard drive x US$ 100 3 00
    21 3 Battery chargers US$75 225
    22 3 power servers x US$ 1000 3 000
    23 15 Adaptors x US$ 40 600
    24 10 metres x US$ 300 3 000
    Office furniture for administration
    5 Office furniture
    5 x US$5000 25 000
    26 5 Cars at US$5 000 25 000
    27 Stationery 12 x US$ 200 x5 offices 12 000
    Implementation of the marketing plan Activities 12000
    28 General maintenance
    12 x 3 000 20 000
    29 Seed Capital needed for conducting the 10 Zimbabwean and 5 global AEDI based Train the Trainers’ Programme
    (10 x 30x US$50) +
    (5 x 30xUS$50 )

    22 500
    30 Seed Capital needed for conducting 10 Zimbabwean and 5 global AEDI based Corporate Social Responsibility Programme
    (10 x 30x US$50) +
    (5 x 30xUS$50 )

    Seed Caital for Trainers
    22 500

    31 Seed Capital needed for conducting 10 Zimbabwean and 5 global AEDI based Level I, II, to III Part I initial Programme to communities.
    10 x 30x US$50) +
    (5 x 30xUS$50 )

    Fettmer Training Service
    22 500
    32 Seed Capital needed for conducting 10collaborative Zimbabwean and 5 global AEDI based Level III Part II
    10 x 30x US$50) +
    (5 x 30xUS$50 )

    22 500
    33 Seed Capital needed for conducting initial Community Fund Raising Fair
    10 x 30x US$50) +
    (5 x 30xUS$50 )
    22 500
    34 5 Laptops x US$500) 5 000
    35 5 Cellphones x US$700 2 100
    36 2 Digital cameras US$ 1 500 3 000
    37 2 Video camera x US$ 1000 1 000
    38 10 Memory cards x US$100 1 000
    39 20 Flash disks x US$10 200
    40 3 Computer back up hard drive x US$ 100 3 00
    41 3 Battery chargers US$75 225
    42 3 Power servers x US$ 1000 3 000
    43 15 Adaptors x US$ 40 600
    44 10 Metres x US$ 300 3 000
    45 2 Projectors 2 000
    46 3 Printers 1 500
    47 3 Scanners 1 500
    48 3 Photocopiers 1 500
    49 2 Book binders 1000
    50 2 Sewing machines 2000
    51 2 Overlock machines 1 500
    52 2 Fabric printing machines 2 500
    53 Gardening implements 3 000
    54 12 Solar panels 6 000
    55 4 Solar batteries 4000
    56 Electricity for 12 months x US$ 500 6 000
    57 Rates for 12 months US$ 300 3 600
    58 Rentals for 12 months x 1000 12 000
    59 Operational Research on Alphabet Entrepreneurship Development Innovation based National Human Resources Planning and Development
    20 000
    60 Research on local raw materials as basis for promoting commercial production of local plants, trees and grass for value addition into innovative alphabet products 38 250
    61 Purchase of raw materials for utilization in the hand making or value addition automated manufacturing /value addition of local raw materials 20 000
    Total Amount 1 247000
    Contingency Plan 15% 187 050
    Grand Total Amount 1 434 950

    8.0 AEDI Programmes Outcome
    8.1 Nurturing of individuals in communities and education systems with an entrepreneurial spirit
    8.2 Creation of enterprises, employment and wealth
    8.3 Promotion of environmental and human health
    8.4 Achievement of local and external trade and a balance of payment
    8.5 Attainment of an improved high human development index

    9,0AEDI Programmes Impact
    9.1&9.2 Each individual either owns a self- employing enterprise, also employing others or is employed in the public or private or civic sectors, but when the need arises, can self- employ and employ others
    9.3 Realize sustainable environmental and human health
    9.4 Realize sustainable wealth creation and a stable economy
    9.5 To realize human happiness