Call it innovation in education only if you can scale it up

Recently I was invited to participate in the Education World Forum (EWF) that takes place every year in London. This is an initiative lead by the British government in partnership with a number of agencies and companies which are working in development and education initiatives. Although, I have participated earlier in this kind of Summit’s (WISE, IB, Learning@Scale, etc.) I felt that this was truly international with a remarkable presence of experts and policymakers from Africa, southeastern Asia and the Middle East.

After having attended the summit I can say that it was very inspiring to see how much of the discussions today are focused not only on increasing the access to education but also in raising the standards of quality in education. Certainly, the priorities and agendas vary across different countries. However, I saw a large number of experts emphasizing the importance of updating education (and the pedagogies), improving the quality of teaching, fostering the development of social-emotional (aka soft) skills and why not exploring better ways to prepare the coming generations for a complex and uncertain future.

One interesting information that was shared during the EWF was that the average period that ministries of education remain in their positions is only 22 months (!). That number resonated during the whole event. We all wondered, what on earth can you do for the education of a country in only 22 months? Especially if you are trying to impact at a large scale.

Before going on the stage to give my short (five minutes) presentation, some international agencies were emphasizing the actions needed for improving the quality of education. Both, the OECD (2015) and the World Bank (see 2018 report) were presenting reports addressing how weak has been the role of technology for improving the quality of education.

After 15 years working in this field, I comprehend the difficulty of integrating technology in effective ways in order to improve the quality of education. That’s why I fully understand (and sometimes share) the concerns and disappointments of those who thought that technology was going to make a quick difference for education.

We have enough evidence to understand that there are no quick changes in education that happens overnight, real transformations are usually the result of systematic and long-term developments. Nevertheless, it’s also true that there are very interesting programs in the world of education and technology that are worth to look at. Most of which are rarely recognized or considered in large-scale comparative standardized evaluations (see Miguel Brechner presenting Plan Ceibal).

In this presentation, you will find a brief description of my experience leading a research institution focused on conducting research as well as providing fundings to build evidence-based knowledge from large-scale educational technology interventions.

Please find the link with updated information on the figures used in the presentation. Here a short list of resources shared during the presentation.

Last but not least, many thanks to Gavin Dykes for his invitation.


Posted in aprendizaje colaborativo, innovación on Feb 04, 2018

Cristóbal Cobo