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To date, the incorporation of technology into schools has had a limited impact as its introduction has focused excessively on equipment and hardware without fundamentally altering learning processes. The need to explore radical and sustainable methods to innovate how education systems operate and children learn is urgent—, and can be addressed by harnessing the transformative potential of information and communication technologies (commonly known as ICTs).
The traditional teaching model does not allow learners to develop many 21st century skills. Conceived for another era, it is based largely on rote memorization, active instruction by the teacher and passive reception of knowledge from the student. In this model, students are unlikely to develop their own initiative and creativity, or learn to collaborate with others, among other examples.
The Working Group on Technology and Innovation in Education has the mission of contributing to the formation of an education innovation ecosystem in which public and private sector actors collaborate to generate creative, technology-based solutions to Latin America’s learning and teaching challenge. The group has chosen to focus on three critical areas: (1) transforming learning experiences to motivate students and enable them to develop the skills they need to be successful; (2) improving the effectiveness of teachers using the opportunities offered by new technologies, and (3) improving the efficiency of educational management systems.
This report summarizes the results of the second meeting of the Working Group, on September 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. This meeting was dedicated to the first item on their agenda: the role of technology in transforming the learning experience, the opportunities that exist for implementing solutions at scale, and the public policy challenges that must be resolved for these opportunities to materialize for students
State strategies to scale-up the effective use of educational technologies: A critical step for scaling up educational technologies is a clear national vision that guides the decision-making within the education system and engages all relevant actors in the public and private sector, civil society, foundations and universities. This vision must have a high level of consensus and be expressed in a long-term strategy document that includes specific and measurable objectives, a concrete action plan designating responsibilities and resources, as well as the institutional commitment to support it.
Capacity for the effective incorporation of educational technologies: To implement a national vision and action plan for the transformation of the learning experience across the education system, there must be sufficient institutional and professional capacity at various levels of the system. Therefore, it is critical to strengthen the knowledge of decision-makers about effective procurement practices or the types of technologies that need to be implemented in the classroom. In addition, a crucial element in the successful implementation of any national EdTech vision is teacher training. In effect, the introduction of technology into the classroom will not lead to improvements in learning if the teaching approach is not also changed.
Infrastructure as a precondition to scaling-up educational technology: It is difficult to imagine a strategy that seeks to transform the learning experience for all students without ensuring connectivity in schools, regardless of their geographic location or the characteristics of students and their communities. Without connectivity—even if limited—the productivity of investments in devices and applications will be very low, and access to online educational resources will naturally be limited.
Continuous innovation in education for citizens of the XXI century: The incorporation and use of technology as a tool to transform the learning experience is not a one-time event, but instead a dynamic process that demands a clear and well thought-out research and development agenda. It is therefore critical to have in place the mechanisms to promote research and development of educational technologies and thus contribute to the process of innovation in the sector. To open up spaces for innovation, it is necessary to create more opportunities for small or medium-sized companies (even in their start-up phase) to enter the EdTech market. The establishment of innovation laboratories driven by ministries but which incorporate and welcome participation from diverse actors, is a promising model.