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BRIEF November 10, 2020

Diffuse: Reimagining Human Connections Technology and Innovation in Education at the World Bank



Capacity building, networks and partnerships

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. The World Bank recognizes the role played by the private sector and seeks to harness its innovations and ingenuity to strengthen efficiencies in the public sector. This approach of networking expertise is critical to ensure that EdTech experience is effectively shared across regions and borders and that last-mile support to educational institutions facilitates implementation of government programs. In addition, the World Bank engages in a range of both just-in-time and structured learning events for clients to share cutting-edge knowledge, promising practices and successful ‘how-to’ information in support of country programs.


The EdTech Policy Academy. To build technical capacity of policymakers and development partners to yield better quality investments in EdTech, and effective EdTech policies in a select group of countries, the World Bank will implement an EdTech Policy Academy. This will leverage the expertise of the World Bank, its EdTech team and partner networks to provide practical, just- in-time support to policymakers, and decision makers designing, implementing, and evaluating EdTech activities in priority areas (launching in the 2021).

Network for Digital Infrastructure.  The COVID pandemic has exposed a gaping digital divide.  Most schools are not connected, and most teachers and students do not have access to devices, and this makes it difficult to leverage technology or develop digital skills at scale. The Network for Digital Infrastructure will bring together expertise from around the world to support detailed country studies to determine the costs and options for connecting every school to the grid and to the Internet and providing all students and teacher access to affordable devices. The Network would evaluate issues such as assessment of electricity and equipment options for schools with little or no connectivity; analysis of rural broad- band school connectivity options including capital and recurrent costs; and analysis of financial models for private-public partnerships including service level agreements for school connectivity, access to devices and cloud services.   The network will also evaluate education management systems and the role of this digital infrastructure to support data access for system management and learning.  Frontier technologies such as blockchain and its role in facilitating trusted exchange of data and value across education systems will also be explored.   role of smart classrooms in infrastructure design as well as design for accessibility will be emphasized. These digital infrastructure plans will inform the investments of governments and the Bank to ensure that schools, students and teachers can take advantage of the Internet.

Network for Digital Skills. The challenge of development of digital skills is multi-dimensional and involves definition of digital skills, space in the curriculum, teacher digital and pedagogical skills, innovative pedagogy and incentives and ways to measure these skills. The network would focus on these issues. The role of digital content and assessment will be critical to development of skills.