Author: Michaelle Tauson and Luke Stannard
Full Citation: Tauson, M., & Stannard, L. (2018). Edtech for learning in emergencies and displaced settings: A rigorous review and narrative synthesis. Save the Children UK.
Overview: The purpose of this report is to build an understanding of ‘what works’ in EdTech to ensure that children can learn in crisis or displaced settings. The field of EdTech is vast, and has influenced almost every facet of modern educational delivery. This report will focus on ‘child facing’ EdTech, which refers to technology – both software and hardware – designed directly for use by the child or by a teacher, parent, or facilitator working with a child. Overall, this report amasses evidence to develop a more nuanced understanding of what is required to implement effective and ethical EdTech programmes that lead to children learning, asking the research question:
- How can the utilisation of EdTech (at home or at school) for teaching and learning best facilitate the learning process of children in crisis-affected settings?
Methodology: The purpose of this review is to build a holistic understanding of how EdTech can impact learning, trying to ascertain what conditions lead to more positive outcomes, taking into account learning theories; impact studies; and feedback from teachers, parents, and students. We wanted to take a step back from traditional systematic reviews, which often focus almost exclusively on the results of randomised control trials and quasi experimental designs in order to decide ‘what works’. In this study we wanted to investigate ‘the what’ alongside ‘the how’ and ‘the why’ in order to understand how investments in EdTech really matter for efficient and effective learning. After a second and third review for relevance and quality, 135 documents were included in the study. A narrative synthesis was then conducted to synthesize and analyse findings.
Findings: Main findings and implications:
- Impact evidence exists but is not utilized appropriately
- The provision of hardware alone is not sufficient to improve learning outcomes
- EdTech is a tool that needs to be constructed with the principles of pedagogy in mind
- EdTech must be implemented in line with the local curriculum
- EdTech must be responsive/adapt to the learners’ level
- Scaffolded, appropriate, and adaptive software can be extremely useful in classroom settings
- Examples must be relevant to the learners’ context.
- Material that is contextually appropriate can be used by families and can help increase opportunities for social engagement.
- Child learners tend to be able to teach themselves how to use technology fairly quickly.
- Adult/teacher led scaffolding is key to productive learner engagement with technology.
- EdTech must supplement and not substitute teaching if it is to be successful.
- How EdTech is used matters more than what EdTech is used.
- We cannot change the learning environment just to utilise a tool.
- Teachers’ opinions and perspectives matter when it comes to effective EdTech use.
- Teachers must be trained and engaged with regularly for EdTech to be an effective tool in the classroom.
- Poor teacher training leads to poor results.
- Parents’ perception of technology is important for learning.
- The history and context of the country and education systems will influence the usage of EdTech for learning.
- EdTech can, but does not necessarily, represent the best value for money or sustainability.
- Infrastructure is a major barrier to the successful utilization of EdTech.
- EdTech can be effectively used alongside accelerated learning programmes