Search
  • Steve Watt

7 risks of EdTech 4Dev



The global community continues to place ambitious targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals. But, without the tools to build the capacity of all people, many of these goals will remain out of reach. And with the onset of COVID-19, it is likely, to be even further out of reach.


Education technology has the potential to transform the development sector in allowing for greater digital literacy and higher quality education, training and capacity building to reach more people. However, we are yet to harness it’s potential.


Given the successes in other contexts, we were really curious to understand why. Which is why we’ve been leading work to look at the risks associated with EdTech4Dev and the ways that mitigate these so we can maximise educational outcomes and successes for

We have identified seven areas of risk that have contributed to EdTech project failure in the past

Infrastructure provision

Without access to appropriate devices, internet connectivity, electrification and careful planning for the life-span of technology, EdTech projects will not be sustainable. Careful infrastructure planning, partnership and management is critical to a successful project.


This covers things like:

  • Poor electricity access

  • Poor internet connectivity

  • Lack of device planning for procurement, maintenance, theft and damage


Human capacity/ teacher competency

All the technology in the world won’t succeed without adequate human capacity to deliver its content and full value. From digital literacy to trainer competency and instructional/learning design capabilities, EdTech programs must invest in people and ensure the necessary support networks are available for ongoing success.


This covers things like:

  • Lack of content and instructional design skills to translate face to face teaching to online/mobile modalities

  • Lack of online teaching skills

  • Lack of eLearning professional development opportunities


Ongoing technical support

Ongoing technical support is a critical component whereby there is support identified and articulated. This is especially important for first time users, where there may be a digital divide in the digital literacy and skills. This is often impacted by the lack of local technology support and services skills as well as ongoing training support. Finally, ongoing support also means consideration of the project buy-in and ownership by government education departments.


This covers things like:

  • Lack of local technology support and services skills

  • Lack of ongoing training support

  • Buy-in and ownership by government education departments


Appropriate technology

Projects need to consider the most appropriate technology. Regardless of whether the technology is open source or licensed, the technologies should be maintained and there should be confidence that this will occur during the life of the project and potentially beyond this. Another consideration is whether you build or buy… Both have merits. However, these should be expanded. Finally, the course content and technologies should be appropriate to the culture, language and development context.


This covers things like:

  • Technology should centre the child/ user not the tech itself.

  • Course content & ICT approaches that is inappropriate to culture, language and development context

  • Technology choices that are not able to be maintained, supported or financed in a sustainable way post-project.


Design for sustainability/ scale

A feature of many EdTech4Dev projects is they are designed to meet a long-term challenge using short term fund. This means that there is a risk they are not designed for sustainability or scale.


This covers things like:

  • eLearning programs not designed for enterprise scale

  • Lack EdTech industry and infrastructure partnerships that enable programs

  • Institutions are unable to support eLearning

  • Lack of committed investment in eLearning beyond pilot phases

Child protection and safety

Consideration of the child protection issues should be a core component of any EdTech4Dev project. This is especially the case with projects responding to COVID-19. It is critical that we consider measures to ensure children are not exposed to inappropriate and harmful content. Another consideration is around putting relatively valuable mobile devices into communities. The poor management of risks to child safety and security as a result of introducing valuable assets into programs.


This covers things like:

  • Limited measures to ensure children are not exposed to inappropriate and harmful content.

  • Poor management of risks to child safety and security as a result of introducing valuable assets into programs.

Evidence and research

A cycle of limited investment into building evidence and research on the efficacy of EdTech for development and its value for money, coupled with varying levels of success in development contexts, has resulted in limited long-term investments and sustainability of EdTech for development.


This covers things like:

  • Too narrow a scope in evaluating the outcomes of programs, with focus on technology alone and not broader outcomes.

  • Implementation failures not considered lessons learned for future developments.


In order to harness the potential of educational technology in the development sector, we must consider how we address these risks to build sustainable project, achieve the outcomes, reduce the digital divide and truly harness the potential that digital technologies can bring.


About this post

We were fortunate to be invited to deliver a lighting talk at the first ever global virtual ICT4D conference that was held worldwide on May 6, 2020.


https://digitaldevforum.com


This blog post is based on that presentation.

0 views
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn

Level 2, 276 Flinders Street, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia

©2020 by Inclusiv Education. Privacy policy