Tag Archives: Ed-Tech

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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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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10 ICT Trends in Schools

In the next few days, we’ll be releasing our report on ed-tech in APS in India. The report discusses barriers to implementation and gaps and opportunities for education technology in India’s low-income schools.

Yesterday, The Hindu published an article by Sitaram Venkat about ten education technology trends that India’s schools should be aware of. The article identified trends such as better content creation, personal learning, and the role of teachers, which we also discuss in our report.

He explains:

“The creation of an interactive experience for students is imperative. Similarly the new-generation teacher must be technologically enabled to meet the demands of the student. Establishing technology as an enabler instead of a disruptive force will create a teacher-led pull for technology adoption. Additionally, uniform access to world-class content is essential. The opportunity is available now to build such an ecosystem.”

Here are the 10 trends he mentions:

1. Personal Computing

2. Better Content Creation

3. Anytime, Anywhere

4. Learning Made Personal

5. Cloud Computing

6. Game-on

7. Teacher Generated Content

8. Smart Portfolio Assessment

9. Teacher’s Role

10. Learning Spaces

Read the full article and about these trends here. And stay tuned for the release of our report!

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Human Centered Design: Pt2- The Create Phase

Create logo

This is part 2 of a three-part series on how we applied IDEO‘s Human Centered Design tools to our Ed-Tech report. You can check out part 1 about the Hear Phase here.

After all the interviews, conversations, and observations that were made in the Hear Phase of the study, we were charged with the task of making sense of what all of it meant. This brings us to the Create phase of the work. The Create phase is all about taking everything that researchers and designers have “Heard” from their users, and using that information to build solutions that will help solve the design problem. In terms of our paper, it helped us form the building blocks of the finished product.

Making sense of data doesn’t just occur at the very end of the Hear phase. Synthesis and analysis is something that happens in several ways throughout the hear stage and afterwards. After every field visit, the research team would verbally review the most compelling or interesting elements of our interactions with the stakeholders by using “storytelling with a purpose”. It was important to be able to use storytelling as a tool to describe how we understood what we saw because it helped inform how we collected data, and helped identify themes to look for in subsequent field visits.

For instance, in our earliest school visits while conducting classroom surveys, we observed very gendered responses to questions about Internet and computer access. This was actually a bit surprising to us since APS  in Tier 1 cities like Hyderabad generally exhibit very gender equal enrollment, attendance, and performance among students. However, after our storytelling regroup in those first few sessions, we decided to probe stakeholders in ways that captured more information along gendered experiences of technology.  We also incorporated more explicit questions about gendered access to technology in subsequent in-depth interviews and surveys.

There was also the process of identifying primary themes and extracting insights which came through the process of affinity mapping—or in layman’s terms, going postal with post-its.

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We took the independent ideas expressed in each stakeholder’s interviews and fit them on a post-it. Then we grouped the ideas by themes that were similar, related, and interesting. This helped us identify themes across stakeholders that were not so obvious looking at each interview individually. It also helped us prioritize which elements of information were most important to each stakeholder’s perspective. The process of  organizing all these pieces of information was daunting, but it helped bring us closer to interesting and important insights to share with our readers.

Lastly, we made diagrams that represented some of the processes and relationships that were important to the APS and ed-tech community. We wanted to use simple diagrams that illustrated how different components work together and influence one another. These diagrams came in at a later stage once we knew what the paper’s main ideas would be. We wanted to choose images that reinforced some primary ideas well and helped communicate the point better.

Making sense of what happens in the field is what paves a pathway for the products and services that can bring new innovations to communities like APS. The act of building those solutions takes place in the Design phase. In our next blog we’ll share how we’d like to see insights from this paper inform other company and entrepreneurs’ design phase.

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Human Centered Design Series: Part 1 – The Hear Phase

This research paper employs a number of Human Centered Design methods in order to understand the APS community and its relationship to technology. IDEO describes Human Centered Design (HCD) as a process that:

helps people hear the needs of the people and communities they’re designing for, create innovative approaches to meet these needs, and deliver solutions that work in specific cultural and economic contexts.

This concept is made actionable with a comprehensive HCD Toolkit that brings researchers through the three stage HCD process. We used a variety of tools in each of the stages and each one brought a different kind of value to the process.

The Hear phase of HCD is about listening to the community. It’s about deciding who we want to talk to and gathering the raw input of conversations, interviews, and observations we make with each stakeholder.  This is where a bulk of our field work was done.

Some elements of this phase were similar to more conventional aspects of  research, like interviewing experts. In the earliest stages of our research, we had in-depth interviews with Madhav Chavan, founder of the  educational organization Pratham, and  Country Director of Gray Matters Capital Pradeep Sharma. Both offered useful perspectives on education, weaknesses in low-income schools, and where technology could fit.

We didn’t stop there. We conducted observations of various classes in order to see first-hand the dynamics that play out between teachers and students, and to observe various pedagogical approaches in all subjects. We conducted group interviews with students in order to understand the boundaries that authority figures set on what they could explore in technology and to discuss amongst each other what they understood the motivations to be. We also conducted group interviews with parents to hear their initial reactions to tablets, their fears about the device, and what they expected from their children.

We conducted one-on-one interviews with school leaders to hear in depth accounts of what motivated them to buy technology, what was lacking in the existing technology solutions in their school, and the broader vision they hold for their students and their school. We also conducted individual interviews with students who represented extremes in the profile of tech users in APS.

Through in-depth conversations with students who were exceptionally adept at technology, and students with little to no exposure, we began to understand the different people and conditions in their environment that affected the level of access to technology they had. One of the most interesting exercises we conducted in the  hear phase was the aspiration exercise.

We presented students with a series of 30 cards (created by IDEO for their HCD toolkit) with a variety of simple pictures on them. Some pictures represented careers, some were pictures of items, and others were more abstract representations of people. Students chose pictures that represented their greatest ambition and their greatest fears. They shared their interpretation of the image and why they chose it, then discussed how technology related to the feeling they articulated.

The responses through this exercise were interesting and dynamic, and lead the children to discuss abstract ideas and feelings more clearly than if they were just asked direct questions.

Check back to see how we used the Create and Design phase of the HCD process to learn more about the APS environment in Part 2 and Part 3.

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