An ed-tech tragedy? Educational technologies and school closures … – UNESCO

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The COVID-19 pandemic pushed education from schools to educational technologies at a pace and scale with no historical precedent. For hundreds of millions of students formal learning became fully dependent on technology – whether internet-connected digital devices, televisions or radios.
An Ed-Tech Tragedy? examines the numerous adverse and unintended consequences of the shift to ed-tech. It documents how technology-first solutions left a global majority of learners behind and details the many ways education was diminished even when technology was available and worked as intended.
In unpacking what went wrong, the publication extracts lessons and recommendations to ensure that technology facilitates, rather than subverts, efforts to ensure the universal provision of inclusive, equitable and human-centred public education.
An Ed-Tech Tragedy? borrows the structure of a theatrical play to document and analyse the impacts and repercussions of the pivot from school-based education to remote distance learning with technology.
details the ambition that often marked the initial transition from schools to ed-tech as the pandemic took hold.
explains the many ways the promises of ed-tech were challenged when technology was deployed globally as a primary solution to maintain education during widespread and prolonged school closures.
questions dominant narratives emerging from the technology-centric experiences of the pandemic period.
puts forward principles and recommendations to guide future efforts to leverage technology for education, while keeping schools and humans at the centre of teaching and learning
An Ed-Tech Tragedy? recounts this tumultuous period, documenting the actions and decisions taken by governments, schools and technology companies. The publication contrasts the promises of ed-tech with the realities of what ed-tech delivered as a response to school closures that impacted over 1.6 billion learners and stretched intermittently from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022. The evidence and analysis highlight trends observed across countries and zoom in on the specificities of local experiences, creating a global mosaic of what students, teachers and families experienced when connected technology was elevated as a singular portal to teaching and learning.
Aimed at general and specialist audiences alike, this publication shows how the abrupt and deep changes brought about by the recourse to remote digital learning during the pandemic continue to ripple through the education sector even as schools have fully reopened. It questions whether more and faster integration of technology is desirable for learners, teachers and schools and if ed-tech is, as it is often billed, a key ingredient of educational resilience.


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