Eight-year EdTech Hub project with World Bank and University of Cambridge aims to build largest body of research on subject
Credit: Simon Davis
The Department for International Development (DFID) will put £20m of aid money into research on education technology in poorer countries.
The EdTech Hub, developed with the World Bank, will spend 50% of the money on country-based research, 35% on research synthesis, dissemination and supporting governments and a final 15% on innovation and horizon scanning. It will aim to create the largest body of research on how educational technology is used and how it can be improved.
The project, which will run for eight years, involves the University of Cambridge and the Overseas Development Institute, along with specialist organisations and companies, with UK technology firm Brink scaling up promising ideas.
“Educational technology can transform how children learn, but in many developing countries it is often only available in the wrong language or schools do not have the right tools to keep their software in working order,” said Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin. “That’s why UK aid is supporting the creation of the EdTech hub to help millions more children receive the quality education they deserve and reach their full potential.”
“Technology use has to be adapted to the cultural context and one-size-fits-all solutions simply don’t work,” added Dr Sara Hennessy of Cambridge’s education faculty. “Rather than hoping for the best, we have to carefully review and iterate, generating insights from rigorous research and applying them in practice.”
The EdTech Hub’s research co-director Björn Haßler, director of open development and education at the Overseas Development Institute, said that many of the most disadvantaged children are taught by teachers who lacked educational opportunities and also need support. “This support cannot rely on the often poor and costly internet connections. Instead, we have to find smart ways of utilising what is available including digital and non-digital approaches.”
As an example of the kind of project involved, DFID said a maths app developed with aid money by UK-based not-for-profit software producer onebillion is already helping children in Malawi and Britain, with research finding it improves attainment.