Research – Making the most of technology in education

Research – Making the most of technology in education

04 August 2020 -  Tech for good, Education & Future of work
3' di lettura

Today we publish the research report ‘Making the most of technology in education. Lessons from school systems around the world’, which explores the potential of using technologies in schools and detects the key factors to enable for sparking positive change within schools.

Education represents a very powerful tool in the fight against economic disparities and promotion of social mobility. It is no coincidence that access to quality education is one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  and one of the greatest challenges of our time. Technology can play a crucial role in this context, enhancing the inclusion of the most disadvantaged students and improving the effectiveness of teaching methods.

Despite EdTech solutions are already used – more or less consistently – all over the world, their impact is often very limited within schools. In fact, there are exemplary cases of schools adopting technologies thanks to the commitment, vision and leadership of their headmasters and teachers, but these are isolated cases. The introduction of innovation programs with an impact of scale is more complex and rare.

So, how can we make the most of technologies in education systems?

In our research we analysed nine international case studies of innovation programmes based on technology – three in Italy, three in Europe and three in the rest of the world – implemented in more than one school, in order to understand the obstacles to implementation and diffusion, identify the key factors of success and draw lessons from them. On these bases we produced a series of recommendations for all the people who can contribute to improve education systems, specifically policymakers, philanthropic foundations, schools, teachers, communities, tech enterprises.

In the analysis of the case studies we took into consideration both the macro perspective of the promoters of innovation programs, to understand how to design and implement innovation projects in an effective and collaborative way, and the micro perspective of the school, which must ‘buy-in’ technology and use it in educational practices. You can find out how some programs in Italy have focused on teacher training, understand how digital inclusion has been addressed in New Zealand, or learn from the Welsh curriculum co-creation program in schools.

The recommendations you will find in the report are divided into 3 sections.

The first section is dedicated to the concept of scale. We suggested a series of actions aimed at promoting the diffusion of these programmes within schools, to maximise their scale and impact. These actions range from the importance of investing in training and support (along the supply of hardwares and softwares) to the improvement of infrastructures, required for the collection and use of open data.

The second section concerns schools, in particular the role of headmasters, true protagonists of change, who guide the transformation of their institutes. Although the research team reached out to headmasters working all over the world, using technologies for different purposes, their advices on do’s and dont’s to encourage both school staff, parents and all people involved in the education system where basically the same. We collected them in the section ‘10 Top Tips’ for school leaders’. 

Finally, we dedicated an entire section of recommendations for philanthropic foundations, who can support the EdTech sector with risk capital, promote and support innovation programs, prioritize experimentation and evaluation of technology-enabled teaching practices and methods or act as brokers, connecting different stakeholders of the school system.

This research was produced in partnership by Nesta , Nesta Italia and Fondazione per la Scuola. It was presented to a selected group of stakeholders during a private event within the context of London EdTech Week last 20 June 2019.

You can download the report here, whereas the italian edition will be published and launched during a dedicated event in Turin on the 19 of September 2019.