Unitus Seed Fund features Ed-Tech India Report

The Unitus Seed Fund offers a great review of our report in their article The ABCs of Affordable EdTech in India

India’s K-12 education system supports over 250M students and is desperately in need of change.  While an increasing number of private institutions and startups are stepping in to fill the void, relatively few are focused on the area with greatest potential impact, low-cost private education solutions for of students living at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP).  Two education sub-sectors with significant potential to make a difference are Affordable Private Schools (APS) and education technology (EdTech).



10 principles to consider when introducing ICTs into remote, low-income educational environments

10 principles to consider when introducing ICTs into remote, low-income educational environments

This excellent article for the World Bank covers some great principles for ed-tech in low-income schools. 

All the principles are great, but here are two favorites: 

4. It’s the content, not the container
All too often, educational technology initiatives focus largely on the technology itself. It is possible to become so enamoured with the technology (and so distracted by device-related questions: should we buy tablets or laptops?) that insufficient attention is given to how to use whatever devices are eventually deployed to their full effect. As we move to a greater proliferation of devices, combined with the fact that we will be accessing more content from multiple places, a greater value will be placed on the content, and how that content is used, rather than on any one particular device. Viewed from this perspective, the future of education is in the content, not the ‘container’.  It’s about more than just content, of course — it’s also about the connections and the communities (students collaborating with each other, teachers supporting other teachers) that technologies can help enable, catalyze and support as well.

8. Put sustainability first
Often times, the first goal of an educational technology project is to show that it ‘works’. Only once this is demonstrated does attention turn to issues of sustainability. Sustainability should be a first order concern — especially in remote, low resource communities. If you design something to work for two years, and it does indeed work for two years, what have you really accomplished at that point? The incentives, tools and mechanisms for sustainability should be considered up front, and introduced and tested from day one. Donations of equipment can be vital in helping to initiate an educational technology project — they can rarely be counted on to sustain one. If something can break — it will. If a dependence is created on outside expertise — inevitably this outside expertise will disappear at some point. Plan for equipment to break, plan for outside expertise to withdraw, plan for novelty to wear off — what will happen then?”

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Featured on EducationInnovations.org

The Center for Education Innovations, a program of Results for Development Institute, has a launched a new site that identifies, analyzes, and connects non-state education innovators. They have a robust database of schools and education service providers in the developing world, as well as the latest research on education innovations. Our report on Ed-Tech in India is included in their database, and you can find the listing here.

Check out their site and spread the word about their work!

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Featured on Mobiles for Education Alliance Blog

We discussed opportunities for mobile learning in India on the Mobiles for Education Alliance blog. Check it out here.

Here is one of our recommendations:

“Build learning applications for both feature phones and smartphones: Smartphone penetration into India’s mobile market is expanding, but most low-income individuals are still using feature phones. Past ed-tech interventions have provided smartphones or phones pre-loaded with educational applications for students to use. The trend now is to build applications that can work on both feature phones and smartphones for students to use in the classroom and at home, making learning truly mobile and accessible. There are also a number of options to make feature phones mimic smartphones, such as InnozbiNu, and Mxit. Building applications for existing devices is more affordable and sustainable. To make learning applications truly beneficial for the classroom, content should be mapped to school curriculum, an important factor for school owners and teachers when considering whether to adopt technology.”

Featured on Dowser

“One of the resounding lessons from the failure of initiatives like One Laptop Per Child has been that ed-tech initiatives fail to reach their potential when they lack understanding of the school environment and users. This is where design research comes in.”

Over on Dowser, we wrote an article about how design research should play more of a role in ed-tech product creation. We even provide some examples about how stakeholders can be involved throughout the design process.

“As ed-tech products become more sophisticated, integration of stakeholders needs to be present through all stages of the product’s creation. Investors and ed-tech accelerators can be an important part of facilitating this trend. For instance, Imagine K12 accomplishes this with its teachers in residence program. The constant conversation that the cohort has with teachers throughout their company’s development helps create scalable, workable solutions that can actually take hold in the classroom. Programs like Stanford’s d.school fellowship for Edu innovators could also be the beginning of placing thoughtful design and ed-tech in tandem.”

Read the whole piece here.


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Join the Debate at EduTech

EduTech Debate hosts monthly discussions on various topics–from MOOCs to this month’s topic on ed-tech in private vs. public schools. We launched the debate with a piece on why ed-tech in private schools matters, how it can be more accountable than tech in government schools, and how it can make all the difference in improving education for low-income students.

“Technology works in environments that support it. APS schools self-select for parents who are willing to invest financially in their children’s education despite their low-income. This can create an environment where parents are open to trying new approaches to helping their children succeed academically. We witnessed this personally in the tablet pilots when parents showed a willingness to pay for personal tablets that their children would use in the classroom despite never having used a tablet themselves.

Because the schools are for-profit, capital investments must have some kind of value-add to justify the cost. These levers of accountability can create incentives for trying new technologies and actually being invested in adoption.”

Read the piece here and leave a comment on the site and let us know what you think!

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Featured on NextBillion

We recently discussed the opportunities for ed-tech in affordable private schools on NextBillion.

To say that education technology is on the rise is an understatement. With the global education market currently valued at $4.4 trillion and estimates of 23 percent growth by 2017, ed-tech is set to make new entrances into education throughout the world over the next five years. As ed-tech innovators seek new markets for emerging innovations, one place they should look is India’s Affordable Private School (APS) sector.

Read the piece here.

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Designing Mobiles for Education in India’s Low-Cost Schools on GSMA Blog

In a guest post for GSMA’s mLearning blog, we discussed designing mobiles for education in India’s low-cost schools. You can read the full post here.

At the end of 2012, India overtook the United States and the United Kingdom to become the second largest mobile phone market in the world after China. How are mobile phones used in India and what does this mean for opportunities for mobile education?…

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Featured in Education News

EducationNews.org shared background on our report here.

Despite the fact that these schools typically operate on a shoe-string, a full 69% of them – according to the report – have computer labs on site and nearly 60% use some kind of technology in the classroom to improve lesson delivery. The bad news is that while the schools obviously set aside funding to equip themselves and are excited about the potential that digital technology can bring to their classrooms, they remain in the dark about the best way to use these tools to improve academic outcomes.

Report Featured on EdSurge

Our report was featured on EdSurge.

We particularly like the report’s comments on why this “hype-to-failure” cycle persists: “A poor understanding of an educational community lends itself to weak technology integration and ed-tech ineffectiveness in schools.” Ditto!


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