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  • The World Bank Group (WBG) is the largest financier of education in the developing world, working on education programs in more than 80 countries to provide quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

    The WBG works in partnership with governments and organizations worldwide to support innovative projects, timely research and knowledge sharing activities about the effective and appropriate use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education systems -- "edtech" -- to strengthen learning and contribute to poverty reduction around the world, as part of its larger work related to education.

    The World Bank estimated the levels of “Learning Poverty” across the globe by measuring the number of 10-year old children who cannot read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school. In low- and middle-income countries “learning poverty” stands at 53%, while for the poorest countries, this is 80% on averageWith the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 180+ countries have mandated temporary school closures, leaving ~1.6 billion children and youth out of school.  85% of children world-wide are affected.

    Countries rapidly adopt remote learning to address the crisis.

    Extended school closures may cause not only loss of learning in the short-term, but also further loss in human capital and diminished economic opportunities in the long-term.  Countries are currently in a coping phase to manage school closures and are also preparing for managing learning continuity when schools open as well as a third phase of resilience and reform to improve the system for the long run.  To help mitigate the loss of learning, many countries are pursuing options to utilize remote learning to manage and cope with the crisis.

    The crisis has starkly highlighted the inequalities in digital access and that ‘business as usual’ will not work for delivery of education to all children. Education systems must adapt. Technology is playing an essential role to deliver education to the student outside of school.

    Remote learning requires a re-imagination of education.

    As countries invest in remote learning as an emergency measure to reach students the challenges there are addressing lay the foundation for re-imagining education.  

    Personalized, modular, and data enhanced digital content.  In this coping phase, rather than developing new content, which takes significant time and expertise, countries focus on curating existing (especially free, ‘open’) content and aligning it to the curriculum. To prepare for the future, countries should develop short, modular content for distribution over multiple channels, with mobile as a primary channel.  Digital content is also the data gathered from learners and the rules or algorithms interpreting that data.  A re-imagining of how content is designed should address the unique skills and background of learners in order to provide multiple pathways and opportunities for the students to realize their potential  

    The digital divide must be addressedA major challenge for remote learning is rampant inequality in access to technology. For instance, in households of primary-aged students in Africa, only 30% of the poorest households have a radio while 79% of the richest do. The gap is also evident with ownership of TV (4% of poor households own one vs. 82% of rich ones), computer (less than 1% for poor households vs. 25% for richest), internet (0.3% in poor vs. 22% in rich), and mobile phones (46% ownership in poor households vs. 97% in rich ones).

    Digital content can be distributed across multiple delivery channels and in order to reach all children at scale, education systems must prepare multi-faceted responses leveraging all available technologies – print, radio, TV, mobile, on-line, and print utilizing a combination of these mediums to ensure students are engaged and learning.  In order for a mixed mode delivery to become the 'new normal' to reach all students, the stark inequalities in access to the Internet and devices must be addressed.  An especially challenging context is countries that are fragile, experiencing conflict or violence (FCV), whereevidence shows learning poverty is over 90% with young women disproportionately affected.

    Education at its core is a social endeavor and teachers must be empowered to use technologies to engage students in learning. Teacher support and training on use of remote learning technologies and adaptations to pedagogy are essential. A combination of multiple modes of delivery (offline/online/blended) are more likely to be effective with a focus on pedagogy and not just use of technology. As parents and caregivers become an essential point of engagement with students, simply making content available is not enough. Parents must be engaged as partners in the learning process and a responsible actor in a blended learning environment.

    Assessment of learning should be formative, personalized and continuous. In the coping phase, traditional evaluation and examination has shown its limitations. Where on-line systems are used, collection of data can give an accurate picture of learning progress. Where students are learning via radio and TV with little interactivity, short quizzes and feedback over mobile devices to teachers may be a strategy employed in some countries to facilitate teacher engagement.  Through the combination of digital content, data and algorithms, assessment is adaptive and can continuously provide feedback to learners. 

    Education technology by itself is not a panacea

    Though investment in EdTech has been increasing, learning and outcomes as a result have not changed considerably in many countries. An OECD report found that, when it comes to impact of computer usage in schools as measured through PISA, “impact on student performance is mixed, at best."  COVID has however has changed the debate on EdTech from a question of if to a question of how.  Experience to date highlights that teaching and learning remotely is not the same as face-to-face pedagogy.  Many teachers with access to e-content, for instance, use it like any another textbook to read from in class.  Some adjustments include shorter and more modular content, more engaging content such as edutainment, continuous feedback, smaller group on-line discussions on more open-ended questions.  Much more attention must be directed on how technology will enhance teaching and learning in a blended learning environment reaching students, both in school and at home.

  • As education systems invest in EdTech, the World Bank advocates these five principles for how to design and implement technology to re-imagine education:

    1. ASK WHY:  EdTech policies need to be developed with a clear purpose, strategy and vision of the intended education change to address the learning crisis.

    If technology is the answer, what is the question? Education technology should be focused on the “education” and not just on the “technology”. Before investing in and deploying EdTech, policymakers must ask what education challenges need to be addressed and what resulting change is desired.  Policies must be holistic to account for teacher capacity and incentives, appropriate digital learning resources linked to the curriculum, and formative assessments that capture learning.  Education at its core is a human-centered socially intensive endeavor.Technology is a means to these goals.

    2. DESIGN FOR SCALE: EdTech design should be flexible and user-centered with equity and inclusion at its heart in order to realize scale and sustainability for all.

    Design for scale begins with proactive engagement and empathy for all possible end-users -- students, teachers, administrators, parents, etc. Engagement with different users will reveal different needs. Understanding these needs will lead to inclusive and flexible designs that will be equitable and hence scalable.  Today, the use of EdTech has demonstrated and is exacerbating inequities in education systems This need not be the case.  Beginning the design process with how technology can be utilized for all will lead to initiatives that are equitable and adaptable to specific contexts and thereby sustainable at scale.

    3. EMPOWER TEACHERS: Technology should enhance teacher engagement with students through access to content, data and networks allowing them to focus on personalized student learning.

    EdTech cannot replace teachers, it can only augment teaching.  Evidence from around the world shows that, over time, the role of teachers become more central, and not peripheral, as the result of the effective use of EdTech.  Technology will replace some of what teachers currently do, while at the same time supporting teachers as they take on new, often more sophisticated duties and responsibilities as a result of technological change. Teachers can be facilitators of learning, part of a learning team, a collaborator with outside expert mentors, a team leader on a project-based learning activity, etc. At the same time, in those circumstances where there is a scarcity of teachers or low-capacity teachers, technology can play an important role in assisting learners to, in part, overcome this absence. Where teachers lack content or pedagogical knowledge, technology can support structured lesson plans or text-based nudges to build this capacity. Teachers’ use of technology will empower them to leverage an array of resources to provide more focused, personalized learning to students.

    4. ENGAGE THE ECOSYSTEM: Education systems should take a whole of government and multi-stakeholder approach to engage and incorporate the most innovative ideas to support student learning.

    Ministries of Education should leverage all stakeholders in the education system when developing and implementing EdTech programs and policies. The best content, software, applications, algorithms and edutainment will be spread across many innovators in the country and around the world. Ministries of Education should actively identify ways to find, incentive, integrate and sustain the creators in their country. This content can be delivered over the most appropriate channel – radio, TV, mobile, web – and bundled with data on learning and feedback to support continuous learning.  This ecosystem includes key stakeholders such as students, teachers, school leaders, parents, NGOs, donors and the private sector including app developers, publishers, equipment manufacturers, telecommunication companies and cloud service providers. Clearly, EdTech requires that all these actors work in concert to a common goal taking a “whole of government approach.” Successful EdTech policies and deployments requires that Ministries of Education leverage all stakeholders – inside and outside the education system.

    5. DATA DRIVEN: Transparent standards and interoperable data architecture supports evidence-based decision making and a culture of learning and experimentation.

    Technology can and should be used to easily collect data from educational institutions, analyze this data and support decision making. Technology is currently available to measure outcomes, track student performance, manage student retention, track book distribution, manage teacher recruitment, track education system spending, etc. Without these, countries will not be as efficient in supporting schools, students and teachers. This data however is diffused through various systems in Ministries of Education and other parts of government. Countries must have flexible, scalable systems that avoid data silos that don’t talk to one another and vendor-lock in (where future decisions on the use of EdTech are constrained by technology choices made in the past). To operationalize this principle, Ministries of Education should promote transparent standards that facilitate interoperability of systems, data and content and remove barriers to competition in order to promote a data-driven decision-making culture.  Many times, learnings from this data is not fed back into the system.  A culture of gathering rigorous data about the ‘impact of EdTech’ must be priority. With the pace of technological change, evidence quickly becomes stale. Hence, constant learning through iteration, controlled experimentation, and nimble evaluations is critical to separate ‘hope’ from 'hype' surrounding different technologies and informing all further EdTech decisions. The culture of data-driven decision making must be strengthened.

    In order to operationalize these principles, the World Bank will focus on the discovery, diffusion and deployment of new technologies.  

    Discover, document, generate and analyze evidence-based technology solutions in education attuned to developing countries. 

    The World Bank will support the EdTech community across countries to discover new innovations, build the evidence base and facilitate the transformation of ministries of education into learning organizations. In some sense, policy makers will be supported to think like a system, but act like entrepreneurs. This will be achieved through institutional support for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) into projects that use EdTech; the inclusion of partnerships with like-minded organizations and the development of global public goods that can be used across multiple countries.

    Diffuse this knowledge widely across policy makers in our client countries and support capacity development to better use this new knowledge. The World Bank promotes multi-stakeholder approaches, including partnerships beyond the traditional education sector, to support the effective, appropriate and impactful use of EdTech.

    The World Bank works in partnership with governments, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, private companies, civil society and communities worldwide to support innovative projects, timely research, and knowledge-sharing about EdTech with the ultimate goal of improving teaching and learning. To do this, it invests in the capabilities of its staff to identify and lead partnerships, drawing on relevant experience and expertise. The World Bank also recognizes the role played by the private sector and seeks to harness its innovation and ingenuity to strengthen efficiencies in the public sector.  This approach of networking expertise is critical to ensure that EdTech experiences are effectively shared across regions and that last-mile support to educational institutions supports implementation of government programs.

    Deploy solutions, at the pilot level and at scale, tackling adoption barriers (including in procurement) and in ways informed by evidence, and which allow for efficient course correction. The World Bank supports countries as they seek to strengthen and expand existing educational practices and approaches through the use of new technologies, as well as to transform them. The World Bank works with partners to develop digital global public goods that adhere to its 5 EdTech principles. These digital global public goods are digitized knowledge and ideas that countries can build upon and adapt to their contexts.

    To execute this strategy the World Bank will provide support to countries through lending operations, partnership networks, and development of digital global public goods in support of the overall World Bank education approach.

  • Current and Past Projects

    Notable recent projects include:

    • In Egypt, as part of the Egypt Education Reform Project, teachers and students are being provided with digital learning resources and a new computer-based student assessment and examinations system.
    • In Pakistan, the Sindh School Monitoring System allows for more effective and transparent monitoring of staff, students and school infrastructure.
    • In The Gambia, the READ project provides broadband and curriculum-linked dynamic e-content to public schools.
    • In Burkina Faso, a Higher Education Support Project is establishing a new Virtual University to help diversify higher education delivery models.
    • In China, the Guangdong Compulsory Education Project supports the installation and use of ICT equipment, the construction of classrooms, and by enhancing the training and assessment system for teachers.
    • EVOKE, an online alternate reality game supporting social innovation among young people around the world, support for FabLabs in higher education institutions in countries like Bangladesh, research into the use of e-readers in schools in Lagos, and pilots of the Khan Academy in Nigeria and Guyana.

     

    Events

     

    Resources 

    We release a number of publications each year on specific projects and themes related to technology and innovation in education.

    • How is the role and structure of national educational technology agencies evolving and what does this mean for the implementation and oversight of large scale initiatives related to the use of information and communication technologies in education? This paper documents lessons from the histories of various national educational technology agencies, including lessons from Korea, Malaysia, England, Chile, Armenia, Uruguay, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Thailand, Philippines, and Australia, to inform perspectives of decision makers considering how to create and support such institutions, the forms these agencies might take, the roles it might take on, and how these forms and roles might evolve over time. Paper available at Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies: Lessons, Models and Case Studies from Around the World
    • How can we create multidisciplinary, structured, active learning experiences that are project based problem solving? This paper presents the Social Innovators’ Framework, which brings together the fundamental principles and practices from the social innovation and educational development fields in order to create a multidisciplinary, structured, and active learning experience that is project based and problem posing. The paper uses Colombia’s Evoke project as a case study. The Evoke Project is designed to support young people as they develop an understanding of these complex challenges, acquire 21st century skills (e.g., creativity, collaboration, critical reflection), socio-emotional skills (e.g., curiosity, empathy, generosity), and gain the confidence to experiment, collaborate, and create innovative solutions. Paper available at Evoke -- Developing Skills in Youth to Solve the World’s Most Complex Problems: The Social Innovators’ Framework
    • How can policymakers make better informed decisions about how best to use ICTs in pursuit of core developmental objectives in the education sector? This paper presents the systems approach for better education results (SABER). It aims to aid and inspire education policymakers as they draft, re-consider, and evaluate key policies related to the use of ICT, especially within the formal education sector at the primary and secondary (K-12) level. The framework was constructed by analyzing and synthesizing policy documents from over 80 countries. Paper available at SABER-ICT Framework Paper for Policy Analysis: Documenting national educational technology policies around the world and their evolution over time
    • How can governments, institutions, and development partners approach the provision of advanced information and communication technology (ICT) services to the higher education and research community in Africa? The National Research and Education Network (NREN) is dedicated to the organization of ICT services and connectivity. This paper outlines the case for NREN establishment, the story of NREN development, and international best practices and current plans of the stakeholders in Africa. Paper available at The Role and Status of National Research and Education Networks in Africa.
    • Comprehensive list of past publications (Archive)


    Download Knowledge Packs

    Knowledge Packs are resources developed by the World Bank’s EdTech team to serve as short, practical guides on individual topics within education technology. 

  • The World Bank Group (WBG) works with a global network of partners and edTech fellows to support teachers, learners, classrooms, schools, and education systems.

    Research Institutes: To shape political debate and devise solutions for innovations in education in Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank, University of Chile, Microsoft Latin America, AT&T DirecTV Latin America, Discovery Education, Fundación Ceibal, Grupo EduTec, Hispanoamérica Pearson, Tec de Monterrey, Omar Dengo Foundation, International Development Research Centre, and Prispamar to form a research body called the Inter-American Dialogue Working Group on Technology and Innovation in Education.

    Universities: To address the global educational challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank partnered with the Harvard Global Education Innovation Initiative, the OECD Directorate and HundrEd to create a series of webinars, online education resources, and education continuity stories. Watch webinars and read stories.

    Private Sector: To develop and launch the Global Edtech Readiness Index, a benchmarking instrument that allows participating pilot countries to assess how ready their ecosystems are to roll out edtech solutions, in service of equitable and quality learning experiences, at scale, the World Bank partnered with Imaginable Futures. Imaginable Futures is helping build a future where every individual has the opportunity to build a brighter future from early childhood education to adult learning. Learn more about the partnership.

    Governments: To accelerate progress toward ending the global learning crisis by increasing the use of evidence to inform decision-making about education technology, the World Bank partnered with the UK Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the EdTech Hub, a collaboration between the Overseas Development Institute, Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, Results for Development, Open Development and Education, Brink, Jigsaw Consult, BRAC, Afrilabs and eLearning Africa. Learn more about the program.

    Development Agencies: To catalyze international contributions and support for the identification, research, and evaluation of mobile technologies to significantly impact improvements in quality education delivery, particularly in developing countries, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) created the mEducation Alliance. mAlliance was formed in 2010 to serve as a convening platform and the World Bank is a member. The initiative was conceived to strategically inform and accelerate the individual and collective ICT4E efforts of in-country institutional counterparts, including implementing partners and Ministries of Education. There is no similar international collaborative body that is dedicated to these objectives and in as advantageous a position to help accelerate significant and profound change in this important field. Learn more about the mEducation Alliance.

     

    CORE TEAM

    The core edtech team works with and supports a group of two dozen EdTech Fellows, frontline staff from across the World Bank's education global practice working in every region around the world on over 50 edtech-related topics.

    Robert Hawkins - WB Blog / Twitter

    Michael Trucano - WB Blog / Twitter

    Alex Twinomugisha - WB Blog

    Cristobal Cobo - WB Blog / Twitter




Additional Resources

Contact

World Bank EdTech team
@WBedutech