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“The Future of Learning and Technology in Deprived Contexts”: A Report for Save the Children International

It was an enormous privilege to work with David Hollow, Meghan Brugha and Mark Weber last year on a report for Save the Children International about the future of learning and technology in deprived contexts.  I am delighted that this has now been published in a slightly abridged version (available online here), and this post provides a short overview of our approach and our main findings.  The report looks forward to 2020 and 2025, and addresses three main issues;

 

METHOD AND APPROACH

The report was based on: a detailed review of the literature; interviews with 32 leading authorities with direct experience of the use of technology in education, especially in low-income and crisis affected areas; a workshop that brought together 29 practitioners and academics from 9 countries working at the interface between technology and education to seek consensus as to the most likely scenarios that will emerge over the next decade; consultations with 22 Save the Children staff from 12 countries to ensure that their experiences were included in the report, and to validate our emergent findings; and our experiences of implementing and reviewing ICT for education activities across the world over the last 20 years.

NINE LIKELY OBSERVATIONS ABOUT BASIC EDUCATION BY 2025

We concluded that nine broad changes in basic education are likely to be apparent by 2025:

 

EIGHT GENERALISATIONS ABOUT ICTS IN 2025

Predicting the future of technology is always challenging, but there was general agreement amongst those we consulted that the following eight things are likely:

 

ICT USE IN BASIC EDUCATION IN DEPRIVED LOCATIONS

Drawing on both of the above sets of conclusions the main part of our report explores the implications for how ICTs will be used in basic education in deprived locations in the future.

ICTs in education in 2025

 

Implications for ICT deployment in education in low-income and peripheral areas

Five likely trends for ICT deployment in education in low-income and peripheral areas are:

 

ICTs for education in crisis affected areas

We identified a further set of likely roles of ICTs for education specifically in short-term acute crises, and also in long term protracted crises

Short-term acute crises

Long-term protracted crises

 

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DIGITAL LEARNING IN LOW-INCOME AND CRISIS-AFFECTED LOCATIONS

While ICTs offer enormous potential for enhancing the delivery of appropriate learning for deprived children in marginalised areas, there are important risks that also need to be considered. These include

These problems, though, do not mean that children should be prevented from accessing the Internet or using ICTs.  As discussed above, ICTs can provide very valuable learning experiences and indeed enjoyment for children, and any risks need to be weighed up against the overwhelming benefits that can accrue from using digital technologies.  The critical need is to ensure that children, parents and communities are indeed all aware of the threats that exist, and that action is taken by governments (both national and local), companies, schools and individuals to address them.

Our report concluded with a series of specific recommendations for Save the Children at both the policy and programme levels.

Front cover photo: KJ Borja/Save the Children

Click here to access the original article written by Tim Unwin January 2018, or to access the full report co-produced by Rachel Maranto December 2017.

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