Government launches global edtech hub to refine and expand digital learning

The initiative to boost research and shift deployment away from being 100% vendor driven

Map made up of skills

The government has announced plans to funnel 20 million pounds into a global research project that aims to boost digital skills in underdeveloped regions across the world.

British universities will partner with research companies and experts to find ways for children and teachers, as well as governments, to identify and deploy emerging technologies in settings like classrooms and universities.

The EdTech hub, launched by the Department for International Development (DfID) at EdTechX Europe 2019, will seek to fill a worldwide leadership gap, undertake research, and support innovation. The programme also targets governments hoping to more effectively implement technology and digital transformation doctrines.

"We have huge ambition for the hub, and encourage all donors, multinationals and governments to come behind it," said DfID's Director General for Policy, Research and Humanitarian, Richard Clarke.

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"This ambition that I talked about includes the use of digital, data and technology and schools and ministries, and at home to enhance learning, improve efficiency and increase value for money.

"And we expect it to get there by working in a truly digital way, and constantly delivering value for the international community."

Principally, the organisation will provide the evidence and research required to shift countries into adopting education tech. The EdTech hub's innovation team will also work directly with schools through sandboxes and will be primed to test the latest techniques and devise new ways to implement technology in learning environments.

The other aims of the initiative centre on supporting institutions through guidance, including supporting deployments and providing direct technical assistance. This is because implementing technology in learning environments is often at risk of being "100% vendor-driven", something the government is hoping to avoid. 

Of the 20 million the government is offering, half of this will go towards research based in low-income-countries, with 35% allocated towards supporting tech deployment in governments and 15% on innovation.

Clarke added the EdTech hub will attempt to make technology deployments in education more evidence-based, and that the organisation will not be ideologically promoting "tech for the sake of tech".

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Part of this involves steering organisations and other governments away from falling into the trap of believing new hardware will improve standards simply for the sake of it.

Users, or students and teachers, will be at the heart of any strategies developed, as opposed to specific technologies. And the EdTech hub will "almost certainly" be promoting non-tech solutions to certain problems.

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