The 6th annual mEducation Alliance Symposium took place in Washington, DC in October and members of USAID ECCN joined dozens of others to learn and engage with innovations that have evidence of promising impact along focal tracks, such as: Crisis, Refugees, and Conflict, Education System Strengthening, and Youth and Workforce. Highlights from the Crisis, Refugees, and Conflict focal track include:
- Creative Associates and INEE’s Technology and Education in Crises Task Team (TecTT) introduced a new ICT Inventory for Education in Emergencies. This is an interactive database of tools and projects relevant to delivering education in crisis and conflict environments.
- Kiron is working to provide more higher education opportunities for refugee youth by using a blended learning approach that includes access to online courses, live and direct online tutoring and several offline services. Their vision is to provide refugees worldwide with access to an accredited university degree, free of charge.
- Faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University, in coordination with several partners, are heading up the ‘Teachers for Teachers’ project which uses training, coaching and mobile mentoring for teacher professional development in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.
- UNESCO Yangon’s ICT for Education Programme provides training and coaching for teachers using tablet technology in rural and semi-rural areas of Myanmar. Programme participants saw gains in teacher confidence and ICT skills. A video introduction to the program can be found here.
- @iLabAfrica is in the first semester of providing live streaming of university lectures from Strathmore University in Kenya to the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Stay tuned for evidence of impact from this innovative approach to higher education in refugee camps.
The keynote address of the Symposium was given by University of Michigan School of Information professor Kentaro Toyama, author of Geek Heresy. Dr. Toyama reminded us throughout his address that technology itself does not solve our education problems and that “…what we know matters is good teachers.” He cited a strong research base that indicated technology has never been a substitute for good adult supervision in classrooms. He also cautions that if we don’t guard against it, technology can increase educational inequality in certain contexts. In order to maximize positive impact of ICT in education, therefore, we must focus on the content and on how to use teachers to develop the capacity of the learner to benefit from that content. ICT may have a role in that equation, Dr. Toyama admitted. But it is not a silver bullet, and more often than not the only end users technology helps are the ones who would have found a way to succeed anyway. The challenge then lies in finding ways to use the power of ICT to stimulate real behavior change.
The theme of this year’s Symposium, “From Innovation to Impact,” calls to those working in this space to not only consider innovation in their approach to ICT programming but to also build critical evidence of impact. This sentiment was echoed by several Symposium speakers including Charles North, USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, who reminded us that collaboration is key to gathering evidence on what works for ICT interventions. Christie Vilsack, USAID Senior Advisor for International Education, challenged us to build a body of evidence on what works in ICT programming and to take that a step further by working together to use the powerful tool of storytelling to collect attention to our work.
Did you attend the mEducation Alliance Symposium? If so, what were some of your takeaways?
Do you work in ICT4EiCC? Have you developed effective ways to build evidence of the impact of your intervention? – Share your experience below.
Amy Deal is the Program Assistant for the USAID ECCN Support Team.
Simon Richmond is a Project Director for EDC and supports USAID ECCN work on ICT4EiCC.