Syndicate content

Education

Two very cool edtech jobs

Michael Trucano's picture
we're looking for ewe
So: We're hiring!

The World Bank is seeking to hire two people to work on research, advisory and operational activities with governments around the world, exploring the effective and appropriate use of information and communication technologies (“ICTs”) to meet a variety of objectives related to teaching and learning. These are full time positions (i.e. not consultancies), based in Washington, DC: We are especially interested in people with strong, demonstrable operational experience in the planning, management and/or implementation of large scale educational technology projects. Experience working in educational settings in low and middle-income countries and with public institutions would be ideal, especially across multiple regions of the world. These people will work as part of a small, dynamic, fast-paced ‘edtech’ team led by me and a colleague, in support of a geographically disbursed set of 22 regional World Bank staff (the 'edtech fellows') who are leading and advising on large scale education projects with ministries of education and other key stakeholder groups in middle and low income countries around the world.

If you're not familiar with the World Bank (or even if you are), here's some quick background information related to:
---

Personalized learning. Laptops. Artificial intelligence. Digital textbooks. Learning to code. Having access to the best teachers and educational materials, anytime, anywhere, no matter where you are. The potential and promise of technology use in education ('edtech') is clear, even if it is often oversold.

When implemented well, educational software applications can help students to learn at their own pace. The use of devices like tablets can help children develop important digital skills and computer know-how that they’ll need to succeed in our knowledge-based economy -- and in life. Separating the hope from the hype, however, and figuring out how to put into practice what seems som compelling in theory (or in a slick presentation from a vendor touting its latest and greatest 'edtech solution') -- that's not so easy. Many potential related challenges, such as high costs, increased burdens on teachers, and many (many!) implementation difficulties, are well known and documented. Far too many high-profile technology-related education initiatives have had little measurable impact on student reading or math ability — sometimes predictably, despite the best of intentions. Technology, as the historian Melvin Kranzberg famously remarked, is neither positive nor negative -- nor is it neutral. While it is very possible that the introduction of new technologies in education can help certain groups leap ahead in ways not previously possible, if care is not taken, it is quite probable that other groups will be left (further) behind.

For better or for worse -- perhaps it's more accurate to say, for better and for worse, given this checkered track record -- countries, communities, families and learners are investing more and more in educational technology tools of all sorts. In most places around the world, the question is no longer, should we use technology in education, but rather, how can we use technology, affordably and effectively, to help prepare our children to lead healthy, happy productive lives?

More evidence is needed to better understand the impact of technology use on teaching and learning and the ways in which a variety of hardware and software tools -- as well as faster, more widespread and reliable Internet access -- can accelerate learning across the so-called 'developing world', helping children develop the foundational skills they need for success. Yet it's clear that, in too many communities around the world, 'business as usual' is not working, or not working fast enough. The world is changing, in large part due to technological advances. As a result, new approaches ('business unusual', if you will) are being considered and rolled out, and most of these involve the use of new technologies in some way. How can we ensure that we are doing this 'right', and how will we know?

These two jobs are about all of this stuff -- and more. For more specific information, please do see the full official job descriptions, which contain directions on how to apply. The closing date to apply is 28 October 2018. That's right: This Sunday! (Depending on your time zone, the exact deadline will fall on different parts of the day, so do check the job announcements to make sure you submit your information in time.)

---

Introducing the online guide to the World Development Indicators: A new way to discover data on development

World Bank Data Team's picture

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the World Bank’s premier compilation of international statistics on global development. Drawing from officially recognized sources and including national, regional, and global estimates, the WDI provides access to almost 1,600 indicators for 217 economies, with some time series extending back more than 50 years. The database helps users—analysts, policymakers, academics, and all those curious about the state of the world—to find information related to all aspects of development, both current and historical.

An annual World Development Indicators report was available in print or PDF format until last year. This year, we introduce the World Development Indicators website: a new discovery tool and storytelling platform for our data which takes users behind the scenes with information about data coverage, curation, and methodologies. The goal is to provide a useful, easily accessible guide to the database and make it easy for users to discover what type of indicators are available, how they’re collected, and how they can be visualized to analyze development trends.

So, what can you do on the new World Development Indicators website?

1. Explore available indicators by theme

The indicators in the WDI are organized according to six thematic areas: Poverty and Inequality, People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links. Each thematic page provides an overview of the type of data available, a list of featured indicators, and information about widely used methodologies and current data challenges.

An important week for infrastructure & multilateral cooperation

Sunny Kaplan's picture



Against the backdrop of catastrophic natural disasters that struck in Indonesia, the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meetings took place last week in Bali. No scene could be more illustrative of the fragility of infrastructure in the face of more extreme and frequent weather events—and the urgent need for meticulous planning, with an eye for resilience.

What The Wire can teach us about psychometrics

Alaka Holla's picture



In the first season of The Wire, an American crime drama television series, a young girl who lives in a poor and crime-ridden neighborhood asks Wallace, a teenaged drug dealer, for help with a math problem. It's a word problem that has multiple passengers getting on and off a bus and that asks how many passengers are on the bus at the end of it. The girl is lost. Wallace reframes the problem for her, describing a situation in which different buyers and sellers of crack cocaine take and give her different numbers of vials. When she answers correctly, Wallace asks her why she can't do the same problem when it's in her math book. She explains that if she gets the vial count wrong, the drug dealers will hurt her, so she must get it right.

Finishing the job of ending poverty in South Asia

Hartwig Schafer's picture
This Bangladeshi woman was born in poverty. With the right kind of education, life in poverty quickly became a story from the past for her. Credit: World Bank

"I have a four-year-old son back in my village. I want to make a better life for him,” says Sharmin Akhtar, a 19-year-old employee in one of Dhaka’s many flourishing garment factories.

Like thousands of other poor women, Sharmin came down to Bangladesh’s capital from her village in the country’s north to seek a better job and create a more prosperous future for her family—leaving behind a life of crushing poverty.

Today, as we mark End Poverty Day 2018, it’s important to note that Sharmin’s heartening story is one of many in Bangladesh and the rest of South Asia, where economic growth has spurred a dramatic decline in extreme poverty in the last 25 years.

And the numbers are striking: In South Asia, the number of extreme poor living on less than $1.90 a day dropped to 216 million people in 2015 from 275 million in 2013 and 536 million in 1990.

Even more remarkable, South Asian countries experienced an increase in incomes among the poorest 40 percent of 2.6 percent a year between 2010-2015, faster than the global average of 1.9 percent.

On a global scale, the highest concentration of poor shifted from South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. And India is likely to be overtaken, if it has not already been, by Nigeria as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty.

It’s worth thinking about how far South Asia has come – but remaining clear-eyed about how far we must go to finish the fight against extreme poverty.

Indeed, it is increasingly clear that poverty is more entrenched and harder to root out in certain areas, particularly in rural areas and in countries burdened by violent conflict and weak institutions.

Estimates for 2015 indicate that India, with 176 million poor people, continued to have the highest number of people in poverty and accounted for nearly a quarter of the global poor.

True, the extreme poverty rate is significantly lower in India relative to the average rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. But because of its large population, India’s total number of poor is still large.

And while there has been a substantial decline in the numbers and rate of people living below $1.90 in South Asia, the number of people living on less than $3.20 has declined by only 8 percent over 1990-2015 because of the growing population.

In 2015, 49 percent of the population of South Asia were living on less than $3.20 a day, and 80 percent were living on less than $5.50 a day.

In Africa, technology and human capital go hand in hand

Sheila Jagannathan's picture
Photo: eLearning Africa
Rwanda’s progress from the devastating civil war two decades ago to one of the most rapidly developing African countries is a remarkable narrative on development.

Twenty-four years ago, the country was torn apart by civil war and one of the worst genocides human history has known; one in which more than a million people were killed in only three months.

Now, with years of sustained economic growth—predicted to be around 6.5% this year, the country is well on the way to achieving many of the ambitious development goals set out in the Rwandan Government’s ‘Vision 2020.’ This strategy seeks to move away from agriculture and rely instead on services and knowledge as the new engines of economic growth, with the objective of achieving middle-income status in the near term.

I had the privilege of getting a snapshot view of Rwanda’s success during the few days I spent in the country last month attending elearning Africa 2018, the continent’s largest conference on technology-assisted learning and training. The choice of Kigali as the location for this year’s conference is highly symbolic: Rwanda has put education and skills at the heart of its national strategy, and can send a powerful message to other African countries about the importance of investing in human capital to support overall development.

My teacher Estela

Valeria Bolla's picture
Photo credit World Bank

When I was 13, my literature teacher Estela asked the class to look at two drawings and write down a story about each one them. I looked at the drawings: one was of a man in a suit and tie who was carrying a suitcase and wearing a watch. The other was of the same man but he had a beard, torn clothes and broken shoes. I wrote the first story about a successful man with an amazing family, the second about a poor, sad man who had no friends. Estela seemed disappointed and asked me if people are defined by their clothes. That day, my teacher spoke about prejudices and I learned something that I won’t forget.

Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
Afghanistan’s prosperity rests on investing in its people
Primary school students are attending their class in northern Balkh Province. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Today, the World Bank Group released the first Human Capital Index (HCI), a new global indicator to measure the extent to which human capital in each country measures up to its full potential.
 
The HCI is part of the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Project intended to raise awareness about the critical role human capital plays in a country’s long-term growth and to galvanize the country’s will and resources to accelerate investments in its people as its most important asset.
 
Afghanistan’s overall HCI indicates it fulfills only 39 percent of its full potential, conceptualized as 14 years of quality education and survival until age 60
 
As dire as this may sound, the overall HCI score places Afghanistan just around a place where it is expected given its income level—in fact, slightly higher than an average low-income country.

Can technology enable effective teacher coaching at scale?

David Evans's picture

Teachers are important. And many teachers in low- and middle-income countries would benefit from support to improve their pedagogical skills. But how to do it? Again and again, evidence suggests that short teacher trainings – usually held in a central location – don’t do much of anything to improve teacher practice. Likewise, much teacher training is overly theoretical and doesn’t translate into practical pedagogical improvements.

Providing teachers with one-on-one coaching is a popular alternative. A coach comes to the classroom, observes the teacher, and provides practical feedback. It makes sense. As Kotze and others put it (in turn paraphrasing earlier authors), “Teachers only learn to do the work by doing the work, and not by being told to do the work, or being told how to do the work, or being told that they will be rewarded or punished for outcomes associated with the work.” A recent review of U.S. evidence shows big impacts of coaching on both teacher practices and on student learning. But those big effects are concentrated in small-scale programs: Effects tend to be much smaller when implemented at scale. Outside a high-income environment, a teacher coaching pilot in South Africa compared coaching to a more traditional training at a central location. Students whose teachers received coaching learned twice as much as students who teachers received training.  

But implementing coaching at scale presents a number of challenges. First, it’s costly. Second, where do you find the coaches? Technology has the potential to help. In a follow-up experiment, researchers in South Africa compared on-site coaching to “virtual coaching” to compare effectiveness. Initial results have just come out in Kotze, Fleish, and Taylor’s “Alternative forms of early grade instructional coaching: Emerging evidence from field experiments in South Africa.”

Helping Every Teacher Be Their Best

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Ecoles Oued Eddahab school in Kenitra, Morocco. Photo: World Bank

In every country, there are dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who enrich and transform the lives of millions of children. Silent heroes who often lack proper training, teaching materials and are not recognized for their work. Heroes who defy the odds and make learning happen with passion, creativity and determination.


Pages