COVID-19 EdTech Idea Call Pitch Days
The mEducation Alliance, along with the EdTech Hub and the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE), launched a call for ideas on April 21st, 2020 to respond to the learning emergency caused by COVID-19 school closures in low- and middle-income countries. At around the same time, the mEducation Alliance had issued its own 2020 Symposia presentation call for Play and Technology for Lifelong Learning which included a track related to COVID-19.
Via the competitive selection process of both calls, a number of initiatives have been invited to present at a series of Ed Tech Pitch Days with a global network of potential funders and other possible connections for onward collaboration. The following includes a running list of those that have already occurred and a heads-up about other ones these partners are planning.
May 13, 2020
AutoCognita’s literacy learning platform enables organizations to rapidly create literacy apps in local languages for mobile devices with offline capabilities. Learners can teach themselves to read at home, in their local language, via lessons that are interactive, engaging, and self-checking.
Curious Learning curates, localizes, and distributes free apps that allow everyone to learn to read. The apps are an effective support both in and out of school, making them an intervention that can meet the needs of learners during this pandemic and after.
Edkasa exists to make quality teachers accessible to students in the most marginalized sections of Pakistani society. Edkasa employs, trains, and equips highly qualified teachers to teach online across Pakistan in a one to many classroom model.
As a “What if” idea, eduvidNG wants to advance a digital mobile pedagogic intervention for out of school students in emerging economies challenged to access quality educational content in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Educators International has developed Phonics by Phone to provide teacher training in basic literacy (phonics method), basic mathematics and accurate student assessment – all using digital technology via the teacher’s own mobile (cell) phone.
Kytabu is an education app, a school management system, a low-cost content access library, an online content repository, an online content store, and so on. Overall, the goal for Kytabu during COVID-19 is to support all the schools in their transition to online management systems.
Going Global – June 19, 2020
Going Global: Adapting High-Quality EdTech Games for Low-Resource Settings featured ten US-based educational game developers who have received prior US government grant support for their high-quality educational games and are hoping to expand the international reach of their products.
Learners with Disabilities – June 23, 2020
Family Educational Services Foundation started the Deaf Reach Program to train teachers, document Pakistan Sign Language, set up a consortium for the creation of PSL words, and so on. In light of COVID-19, Deaf Reach now has a repository of digital resources used in school and aims to distribute these to the students in loaded computers across their school network and beyond.
Catholic Relief Services, with the Ministry of Education, Youth, & Sport (MOEYS) in Cambodia, created a manual for creation and use of toys and games created from locally available materials, designed to engage parents in play at home and for teachers to use in classrooms. Most toys/games have adaptations for children with disabilities.
GraphoGame is an early literacy learning game and methodology for teaching kindergarten and primary school children reading and spelling in an engaging, fun and simple way at home or in school. GraphoGame was developed after almost two decades of a longitudinal study on learning difficulties (dyslexia) associated with early childhood literacy.
Learning Offline – June 25, 2020
Mavis Education has developed a package called Mavis Talking Books that includes the Mavis Book™ and the Mavis Pen™. These packages will be distributed to the homes of students who are out of school. Children use the pen to tap on pages of the book to hear the lessons and do exercises in a fun and engaging manner in a language they understand. Each family pack (can serve 10 children or more) comes with a solar charging kit for charging the pen.
Two Rabbits engages communities to 1) record interactive audio preschool lessons in the local language, 2) upload them onto SD cards that can be replayed on an mp3 device, and 3) train community members to facilitate learning. They propose adapting this model for COVID-19 response by 1) recording training sessions for caregivers to facilitate learning; 2) distributing SD cards to families to play on cell phones at home; 3) mobilize teachers to provide door-to-door distance support.
Mango Tree Literacy Lab is modifying their literacy tools, methods and classroom materials to be delivered via radio in an effort to support support parents and children in learning at home. Prior to COVID-19, MTLL’s program raised literacy levels equivalent to 6.3 grades by Primary 4. MTLL uses radio to raise awareness on literacy, and is already delivering content.
African Innovations – June 26, 2020
Educate! is working to take its proven skills-based education model for Ugandan youth virtual, leveraging radio for content delivery, and robocalls, interactive voice response (IVR), SMS and remote mentorship for follow-up assessment, engagement, and mentorship on starting appropriate projects and businesses (such as sack gardens). This could be supplemented by in-person, small group mentorship immediately post-full lockdown, in compliance with social distancing orders and school closures.
Sun Books aims to provide children in “off the grid” areas of Uganda access to quality educational resources. They have developed a method for distance learning and education content to improve literacy, using a tablet with all the content pre-loaded on the device with a solar charger panel unit. Children can access 600 e-books with stories to promote values and 300 games to enjoy while learning to read and write. The content has been developed collaboratively with local teachers and students.
Tiny Totos Kenya designed a learning programme tailored to children 4/5 and below – and their parents, largely lowly skilled, poorly paid mothers – who normally attend our partner informal daycares in Nairobi’s lowest income areas; marginalized neighbourhoods with limited social services. The programme has several components which includes a physical activity pack, audio guide clips, daily texts, video clips, a weekly radio show, and monthly support calls by our expert team.
Coding Global – July 15, 2020
Coding Global: A Digital Literacy Partners Forum took place on July 15, 2020 and featured organizations working on education technology interventions that teach coding and computational thinking, particularly in low-resource settings.
HEA COVID-19 Challenge Call – July 13 – 17, 2020
For more information on UNHCR’S Humanitarian Education Accelerator COVID-19 Challenge Call check out this blog post by the HEA team.
Amal Alliance’s We Are In This Together podcast series addresses the needs of children during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple, but meaningful activities that reinforce emotional wellbeing. Activities and games are designed to require no materials, and touch on topics such as hygiene, empathy, tolerance, patience, and healthy expression.
Education for Humanity at Arizona State University pitched the SolarSPELL initiative which is confronting the realities of low-resource contexts with an ultra-portable, ruggedized, education-focused digital library, designed to build internet-ready skills in an offline environment. The goal during COVID-19 is to utilize SolarSPELL to enable teacher preparation and provide offline access to educational resources.
Hello World works with marginalized communities to provide access to online learning through Hub Heroes, solar-powered internet-enabled education hubs built by the community. Each hub provides free internet access and educational software to over 1,000 people, giving underprivileged children and adults an education.
Jusoor helps Syrian youth realize their potential through programs in the fields of education, career development, and global community engagement. In response to COVID-19, Jusoor has pivoted their in-class curriculum to continue to reach roughly 60% of their current students via online learning, take-home learning, and remote psychosocial support.
Mbarara University of Science and Technology‘s Teaching Robots is an initiative focused on the Nakivale refugee settlement in southwestern Uganda. It composes of ‘talking’ primary seven science content, accessible through low cost robot rechargeable mini speakers, as part of the Mbarara University’s remote open learning academy.
Mosaik’s Open Dogme Toolkit for refugee teachers suits a low resource, displacement context. The toolkit includes WhatsApp resources such as links to content, asynchronous written and voice message interaction, as well as live video discussions on Zoom on topics shared on the WhatsApp.
M-Shule is a personalized, mobile learning platform in Africa that uses AI to connect learners with tailored education, training, and data through SMS. By making an all-in-one, 21st century learning platform possible with the simplest feature phone, M-Shule unlocks new opportunities for young refugees.
Sina Loketa pitched the Community Networking Initiative which is working towards providing e-learning access to students at the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Uganda. Sina Loketa’s goal is to create a self-organized learning space to unleash potentials for refugees and marginalized youth.
Tekkatho Foundation‘s MyLibrary Want To Learn initiative is working towards building portable, self-contained digital libraries with WAPs that work without the need for an internet connection. They are full of learning materials including textbooks, lesson videos, quizzes selected to support the new Myanmar national curriculum.
The Ustad Mobile app enables users to teach, learn, and share, online or offline. It provides the functionality needed for distance-learning without requiring continuous connectively. The classwork feature allows teachers to set assignments, send/receive feedback, and communicate with students.
War Child Holland‘s Can’t Wait to Learn Programme offers children affected by conflict the opportunity to (continue to) learn to read and count through playing educational games played on tablet devices. It has recently been adapted for remote delivery to meet delivery challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All learning materials are based on national curricula and can be quickly and cost-effectively adapted to multiple contexts – allowing for effective scale up.
The Youth Education & Sports (YES) Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) COVID-19 Response initiative has included the distribution of refugee-produced soap to students in Kenya, as well as recommendations on how to remain physically active and creatively/emotionally engaged.