10 key steps for integrating technology into educational planning

19 March 2024


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The COVID-19 pandemic forced nations worldwide to rely on technology to ensure educational continuity. In Latin America, this shift exacerbated long-standing challenges, including widespread connectivity issues in schools and ineffective strategies for designing and implementing digital technology policies in education.

Going forward, educational planning and management can help address these obstacles sustainably. On International Day for Digital Learning, we share 10 key steps from our policy document Educational Planning and Digital Technologies in Latin America to ensure efficient policies for the sustainable and equitable integration of digital technology in education.

1: Define the policy’s objective

To achieve this, it is important to explain the challenge addressed by the policy to guide actions. The incorporation of technologies can help prioritize the resolution of different problems, including access to the education system, connectivity, and equipment, the digitization of school administrative and management systems, pedagogical innovation through new teaching devices, strengthening teachers' professional development, among others.

2: Provide a comprehensive approach to incorporating technologies into the education system

A comprehensive approach to integrating digital technologies must consider different intertwined and complementary aspects for promoting a holistic, consistent vision aligned to the broader educational objectives of the national education policy. Some of these aspects are multidimensionality. For example, they need to consider infrastructure (connectivity and equipment), curriculum, teaching, platforms and digital content, and information management; or a cross-cutting approach through all levels of basic education, among others.

3: Support actions with regulations and legislation

Integrating educational digital inclusion in national regulations is important for ensuring its continuity through government transitions, as well as funding legitimacy within each country. Actions arising from national laws or regulations backed by strong consensus within the education system can achieve a greater scope and longer sustainability.

4: Pursue actions with other areas of government

It is essential to work with other areas of government, especially those that are involved, such as telecommunications, culture, or other areas for content provision such as health and tourism.

5: Design actions with a participatory approach

It is crucial to achieve stakeholder consensus to guarantee legitimacy and sustainability through the educational planning process. This allows for meaningful appropriation of technologies by key actors such as teachers. It is also important to engage technical teams, students, families, and local community representatives.

6: Streamline articulation between the different levels of intervention

To ensure effective communication of decisions throughout all levels of the system, coordinated and flexible management among various stakeholders is essential. This implies the coordination and collaboration of different levels and actors of government, both at the national and subnational levels. Strengthening management capacities at various levels of policy implementation is crucial to tailor national policies to local contexts and develop context-appropriate projects. Specifically, this involves empowering middle-tier positions such as technical teams within local administrations, supervisors, and school principals to effectively implement policies and initiatives.

7: Organize actions with non-governmental actors

During COVID-19, the private sector, including companies and civil society organizations, extended support to the education community by providing digital platforms for remote learning, various teacher-training strategies, digital teaching resources, internet access, and other essential services. With this critical period over, this kind of collaboration must be sustained. While the spectrum of collaborative modalities is vast, it is crucial to address sensitive issues to safeguard citizens, such as data protection, information security, sustainability, and equity.

8: Develop financing strategies

Obtaining funds for digital transformation in education systems can be problematic in Latin American countries due to budgetary constraints. Therefore, a rigorous cost-effectiveness evaluation is crucial for optimal resource allocation. Several strategies can be considered, including modernizing and digitizing school processes and structures incrementally, extending efforts to higher education levels, leveraging the support of development banks, and implementing government subsidies for low-income populations to ensure digital inclusion across society, among other initiatives.

9: Ensure transparency and accountability

Closely linked to the previous step, planning must include mechanisms that account for the expenditures made by the government for the implementation of actions.

10: Evaluate policies

Measuring the impact of technologies on education systems, especially at the qualitative level, continues to be a challenge, not only at the regional level but also globally. To design sustainable and effective policies, it is critical to produce accurate information on what is happening at the pedagogical and management levels with the introduction of technology. In terms of infrastructure, it is important to know which devices facilitate which processes and what is the minimum quality of connectivity needed to enable meaningful learning. Likewise, from a pedagogical point of view, it is also worth recognizing what classroom configurations, activities, digital resources, and times (with and without connection) are required, among other points.