Using Technology to Deliver Educational Services


The goal of this paper is two-fold: (1) to compile and review illuminating case studies of technology-supported interventions to deliver education services that promote equitable access to children and youth in environments affected by crisis and/or conflict; and (2) to provide recommendations for the design and implementation of technology-supported education interventions. The intended audience is education program planners in developing countries, particularly those affected by conflict or crisis. 

Through a country case study approach, this report examines three types of educational technology programs, specifically: 

  • Mobile phone-based delivery of educational content for improving student learning, aimed at both students and teachers; 
  • Internet-enabled computer labs supporting K-12 education and youth employment-focused training; and 
  • Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) in primary education. 

In addition, the report provides a discussion of certain emerging educational technologies (e.g. tablets). 

This study uses an analytical approach which combines contextual and conceptual “lenses”. Most important is to understand the Conflict Affected and Fragile Environment (CAFE) in which these educational technology programs are implemented, and to analyze how the programs adapted appropriately (or not) to that environment. Students, teachers, schools, language of instruction, curricula and ministries of education are all affected by crisis and conflict, and educational technology programs must take these effects into account if they are to succeed. Secondly, the study examines the extent to which, conceptually, the educational technology programs reviewed align with and reflect seven research-based principles for effective teaching.1 The essential message from this research is that learning is not something done to students, but rather something students themselves do. These seven principles are consistent with the Minimum Standards for Teaching and Learning agreed to by the International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). Based on both contextual and conceptual analysis, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of educational technology are derived, along with lessons learned and guidelines for future design of educational technology programs in CAFE. 

Educational technology, when it is appropriately applied in contextually relevant ways, has been shown to enable positive learning experiences and improve learning outcomes, including in countries affected by crisis and/or conflict. However, there are more un-evaluated than evaluated educational technology programs; the evidence base remains quite thin. The fast-paced evolution of educational technology suggests that future programs can be more effective than in the past. Also, for students in countries affected by crisis and conflict, simply the opportunity to engage with educational technology can be a positive and worthy experience, particularly if it promotes human connections and community-building. 

For education program planners in countries affected by crisis and/or conflict considering educational technology as a means to improve student learning, this report offers ten guiding principles, including: (1) clarify educational objectives to be achieved through technology; (2) design the technology program as a function of those objectives; (3) maintain flexibility, learn by doing and adapt as necessary; (4) specify the program time horizon; (5) prioritize the “human-ware” over the hardware and software; (6) ensure contextually-appropriate educational content; (7) maximize and exploit connectivity; (8) keep the technology as simple as possible; (9) minimize power requirements; and (10) avoid the mistakes of previous educational technology programs (aka “do not re-invent the flat tire”). 

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 3:00pm

Last updated: May 07, 2014