The Intersection of Edtech and Policy with World Bank Group's Mike Trucano

Mike Trucano, Senior Education and Technology Policy Specialist and Global Lead for Innovation in Education for the World Bank Group, will discuss current trends in edtech at the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group’s upcoming Fall Policy Exchange (September 29, Washington, DC). Trucano regularly shares his insights into the worldwide market on the World Bank EduTech blog, answering key questions on education in the international community and focusing not only on best practices but also on adapting edtech to suit the needs of diverse classrooms. Check out some excerpts from his recent blog posts below and come hear his full perspective at the University Club next month. 

On technology as an innovation in education: “…I am reminded that there are really two general types of 'innovations in education', whether they originate from the 'bottom-up', are imposed from the 'top-down', or somehow sneak in 'from the side'. The first type is the one most commonly considered: When something is done more efficiently, or cheaply, or faster, or at a wider scale, than has happened before. Innovations in education of these sorts are quite valuable and the most common. Improvement, iteration and expansion can drive progress in all sorts of useful ways, and doing what was done before, just better, is more likely to catch the attention of potential (traditional) funders and partners than more radical or 'out-of-the-box' approaches. That said, there is another type of innovation in education worth considering: where the use of new technologies can enable something that simply wasn't possible (perhaps wasn't even conceivable) before. Such innovations are much more rare, of course, but it is precisely those sorts of innovations that can be truly transformational, possibly even (to use an overused term), 'revolutionary', for learners around the world.”

On the intersection between education policy and technology: “A key factor catalyzing many efforts to create new policies related to technology use in education in schools is the fact that a large-scale procurement of ICT equipment looms on the horizon. In many cases, existing policies provide little guidance related to what is being promised by political leaders (e.g. large numbers of schools are to be connected to the Internet, or will receive computer labs, or students are to receive laptop computers). In other words, 'the technology tail is wagging the policy dog'. One consequence of this phenomenon is that the initial focus of policy development is to help guide the roll-out of new technologies to schools, and not in how such technologies can be used in support of existing policy goals and objectives.”

On whether or not technology will replace teachers: “…While routine administrative burdens on teachers may (eventually) lessen, and some routine low-end cognitive tasks may gradually be taken over by software, the introduction of new technologies over time typically means that *more* is asked of teachers, not less. The development of the types of so-called '21st century skills' -- problem-solving, critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, etc. -- as well as a variety of noncognitive skills (such as grit and mindset) are increasingly considered to be important to success in academics, and in life. To a great extent, these are the sorts of skills that teachers, and not machines, are uniquely able to help students develop. But doing so is not easy, and often requires more highly capable teachers than many education systems currently have. Being able to utilize new technologies in support of their teaching, and to keep up with technological changes, challenges teachers to continue to learn themselves. The increased availability of data on student performance as a result of utilizing new technologies, with their ability to track student activities in ways simply not possible when 'assessment' meant an occasional test using pencil and paper challenges teachers to absorb these data and modify their teaching in ways that are most useful to their students, both collectively and individually.”

On collecting data on edtech and what policymakers need to know: “In order to be relevant to key related policymaking discussions and exercises, we need data to inform answers to two different types of questions from policymakers: those that they currently, and commonly, ask; and those which they do not ask, but probably should. If we are to put in place an infrastructure to help answer such questions and to justify why we are proposing that different questions be asked, drawing on experiences that are truly global in scope, it would be useful to have systems and processes in place to collect observable, countable inventory-type data. Much more than this is needed, of course, but you have to start somewhere. When you can't answer the simple questions, many policymakers tend to discount the value of what you suggest when discussing more complicated issues. And: If you can't put into place the processes, approaches and tools to count the easy stuff, what hope is there that you'll be able to collect data about and analyze things that are much more difficult?”

Read more from Mike Trucano on the World Bank Group website.

Learn more about the Fall Policy Exchange, including schedule, speakers, and how to register.

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Education Policy