Earlier this year, Public Digital started working with EdTech Hub, a global non-profit research partnership.
The Hub's work is fascinating. Around the world, and particularly in lower-income countries, educationalists, teachers and policymakers are keen to make good use of technology in education. Those decision-makers have a limited pot of money to spend – so they need to be sure that they're spending it wisely.
That's where the Hub comes in. It explores options, and produces usable, useful evidence that helps those decision-makers to make decisions.
We've spent an exciting and interesting few months working with them, as they rapidly shifted focus and output in response to Covid-19.
Providing practical help
Among other things, we helped the Hub:
- rapidly build and iterate new prototype digital services in response to Covid-19, including an Education Technology Database and Playbook
- iterate towards a digital Evidence Library
- commission, then use, a content strategy from Content Design London
- carry out and learn from user research
- conduct user research for a specific project in Sierra Leone
- plan for, and hire, a new digital team
- put that team to work on a new website
- roll out its new brand and identity (designed by Felt)
- simplify its messaging
- start using some agile communication techniques
It’s worth noting at this point that while we helped with a new website, Public Digital isn’t really in the business of building websites. The larger goal was to help the Hub adopt internet-era ways of working and start building a sustainable in-house digital team – both for website development, and other things too.
The Hub is fortunate to have a Board that understands the urgency and opportunities to adopt new ways of working and strengthen digital capabilities. It’s difficult to build a plane while flying it – especially in crisis situations – but the Board was curious, constructive, and supportive throughout.
Good technology is usually simple technology
The Hub is in an unusual position. Its users are an intriguing mix of professionals in overlapping fields: educationalists who absolutely depend on the academic rigour that the Hub brings to its research; and civil servants who might depend on the Hub's strong reputation to help them make and justify decisions about buying or rolling out particular technologies, in particular places.
As is true for most of Public Digital’s clients, the most suitable technologies are rarely the newest, shiniest ones. Blockchain and AI won’t save a government’s transformation efforts, and they don’t help much with education either. Good technology for education often means using simple things like radio and TV to broadcast lessons, or giving teachers some training so that they can provide the best possible support. It might mean focusing on podcasts as a means of distributing educational content. Simple technologies, to meet specific needs.
The Hub team were a joy to work with, and their mission is clearly something they all hold close to their hearts. We wish them every success for the future, and we'll be keeping an eye on their progress as they keep iterating their methods, and the pages of that new website 👍