4 lessons on the sustainable use of digital technology for transforming education

12 February 2024

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©World Digital Education Conference

In the field of educational planning and management, the spotlight is often on how digital technologies can improve institutional processes and efficiencies. From leveraging the use of data in education management information systems (EMIS) to creating projections to better allocate resources, digital tools carry great potential to leverage the power of planning and management.

As more planners and partners embrace new technologies, we’ve distilled four key lessons for governments to ensure greater sustainability.

1. Align technology with system-wide strategies

Countries that have achieved sustained success in educational technology initiatives have often adopted an integrated model aligning the multiple goals and needs of the education system with broader national digital policies. These goals and needs include teacher’s professional development, the setting of learning objectives, and fostering dialog for an empowered and participative community. Policies can then be sustained over time without being impacted by changes in government.

Sustainable implementation also means ensuring better articulation between the central and territorial levels to prevent an implementation gap – or in other words, errors in the chain of transmission from the ministry’s central level to schools that can result in policies becoming distorted or diluted.

2. Maintain organizational autonomy

Integrating technology can often entail high costs, and complex procurement and managerial processes. Systems that can successfully sustain technology are those who manage to have organizational setups where they can maintain autonomy from both political turbulence and business interests.

Clear selection criteria, open and transparent tendering processes, and independent audits are key. Dialogue with stakeholders must be fostered so that consensus can be built on the benefits and goals of integrating technology. Systems that manage to do this can then ensure continuity without losing focus on the ultimate goal – student learning.

3. Explore novel ways to scale education technology

Scaling strategies such as public-private partnerships and collaboration with academic institutions can provide opportunities for innovation, while also contributing to the sustainability and implementation of an education sector plan.

Access and connectivity issues, for instance, can be overcome with the know-how, innovation, and infrastructure that can be achieved through collaboration between the public and private sector. This can in turn promote equity because governments will then be able to better reach marginalized populations that would otherwise be excluded from the system.

4. Prioritize Monitoring, evaluation, and learning

Interventions that are more sustainable manage to incorporate a learning system within them. This allows them to monitor and evaluate the plan, so that they can course-correct when needed without altering the expected outcome of the intervention. If these systems are not in place, any miscalculation in the plan might hamper the intervention and goals. Instead, by establishing a learning system, evidence can be produced to inform decision-making and contribute to other research initiatives on the benefits of technology for education.