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21.11.2022 | Jamie Lee & Crystal Green

Global Collection 2023: 10 Innovations Impacting Over 1 Million Students

In HundrED’s Global Collection, we review innovations based on their impact and scalability. One measure of scalability is the number of students reached. In this article, we showcase the ten largest innovations that all reach over a million children. What makes them highly scalable?

Photo credit: Labhya Foundation

What makes an innovation reach a huge number of students? Looking at the ten biggest innovations from our Global Collection 2023, they have all found unique niches that respond to common needs in education across geographies. These 10 widely spread innovations have also been able to work with multiple partners and coordinate action on a large scale. 

What is better, they impact over 80 million students on six different continents all together. They work on a range of different focus areas that demonstrate current and persistent trends in education: gender equality, literacy, teacher professional development, access to education, and educational entertainment. You'll find the list of the ten biggest innovations at the end of this article, but let's first dive deeper to scalability.

What makes an innovation scalable?

1. Collaborate with existing systems
We found that scalability is often made possible through collaboration with existing systems. For example, Labhya Foundation partners with governments to co-create scalable and localised SEL programs for vulnerable children across public education systems. They do this by supporting the co-creation of curriculum, teacher capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, and support in effective implementation. By working together with Indian state governments, they have been able to integrate daily SEL classes into public schools. Similarly, Educate Girls works with the Indian government to identify, enroll, and retain out-of-school girls. Scale is possible because they leverage the Government’s existing investment in school combining with a large pool of community volunteers. On the other hand, Ubongo uses the power of mass media to deliver entertaining educational content through free TV, radio, and on Youtube. By distributing their content for free, they have been able to reach 17 million families in Africa.

2. Offer open-source resources
Another effective way to achieve significant scale is by offering open-source resources. Bloom does this with their platform that allows people to create books in their own languages and publish them on the website easily. They leverage network effects, as the more people use their platform to create books, the more valuable their platform becomes. Mahara is another example of an open source software that can be installed on a server, allowing students and professionals to create media-rich portfolios of their learning progress, achievements, and reflections. More than an open-source software, “Mahara is a community of educators and developers who strive to make tools available to support lifelong and lifewide learning”.

HundrED's Head of Research, Crystal Green, expands more on what it takes to create a scalable innovation:

”We've been going back to Rogers’ theory of innovation diffusion to understand what makes an innovation scalable. On the one hand, scale has to do with the innovation itself and the characteristics of the innovation. Can people easily understand what innovation does and how it is better than current practices? Do people feel like it fits with their culture and values? At the same time, the spread of innovation is also about the personas of the people who Rogers calls ‘adopters’. Some people are very excited to try new things, other people need to see something in action for quite some time to be convinced. So creating a scalable innovation is both about the innovation itself but also about how that innovation is communicated about to the various people who implement the innovation.”

”Scale has to do with the innovation itself and the characteristics of the innovation. Can people easily understand what innovation does and how it is better than current practices?”

We are very excited and proud to share these 10 innovations over 1 million students:

Bloom - free open-source software enabling people to create books in their own languages

CyberSmart Africa - delivers up-to-date quality content directly supporting learning both online and to the vast majority of schools that have no electricity in sub-Saharan Africa

Educate Girls - empowering girls to go back to school by partnering with the Government and community volunteers to identify, enroll and retain out-of-school girls in India

Labhya Foundation - partnering with Indian state governments to co-create and ensure effective implementation of state-wide daily SEL classes integrated in the school day

Mahara - open-source software that enables students and professionals to create media-rich portfolios of their learning progress, achievements, and reflections.

Navigated Learning Collaborative powered by Gooru Navigator - open-source data platform that enables all stakeholders in the education ecosystem to work together by providing access to continuous, real time learning data

Room to Read - creating a world free from illiteracy and gender inequality by helping children in historically low-income communities develop literacy skills and a habit of reading

Teachers Academy Foundation (ÖRAV) - sustainable teacher development equipping state-school teachers in Turkey with the knowledge, practical skills, and methods to catch up with expected teaching standards and global practices

TEC.LA - computational thinking training program for teachers to provide them with the content and skills necessary to thrive in today’s world

Ubongo - leveraging the power of entertainment, reach of mass media and efficacy of localized, kid-centered pedagogies to bring kids across Africa fun, effective learning experiences.

These innovations where selected to the HundrED Global Collection 2023 report. Download your free copy here.