This past summer I spent a few months working with Asian Development Bank on evaluating learning technologies for early childhood education. In 2019, they wanted to support the People’s Republic of China identify technologies which can lead to positive learning outcomes, are contextually appropriate, affordable, and overall accessible.
It was a fun mix of reviewing existing literature, conducting interviews with universities in Beijing and Shanghai to learn about the newest research, and visiting ed tech companies and test driving new products. Ultimately I synthesized all this data to create a framework which supports government determine which technologies are effective, and how and when to use them. The classification of technologies broke down into the administration of teaching to include student information systems and classroom management and communication tools, and the implementation of teaching, which more broadly encompassed everything from teaching aids and computer-assisted learning, to teacher professional development and assessment tools. The framework highlighted the technologies, types of software and hardware, costs, obstacles around implementation, use cases and examples of products.
I was especially delighted by this project with ADB because there’s a critical need for government, international organizations and NGO’s to make informed, evidence-based decisions for procurement of ed tech products. All too often technologies are procured and either don’t work for the context or are incredibly expensive (again…don’t work for the context). I hope this classification can provide some insights and guidance and will continue to iterate on it as new technologies enter the market.