What can we learn from each other? Almost every education system on earth has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As part of a joint initiative, with the OECD, The World Bank, and the Global Education Innovation Initiative from Harvard University, we have collected stories from across the globe about the solutions education systems are using to continue learning, and how they are adapting these solutions to different student and teacher needs during the crisis.
This article looks at how selected HundrED Innovator ProFuturo contributed to mitigating the consequences of school closures in Spain during the COVID crisis.
To contribute to mitigating the consequences of the closure of schools across the world triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, the digital education programme ProFuturo put in place a contingency plan ensuring the continuity of teacher training and student learning away from classrooms: #SeeYouInDigital. As part of this contingency plan, ProFuturo opened its training courses and educational resources to everybody, free of charge, regardless of whether they were enrolled in their programme or not. Additionally, methodologies and content have been adjusted to reach students without access to technology or internet connectivity, ensuring that no one is left behind.
ProFuturo is a digital education programme launched in 2016 by the Telefónica Foundation and “La Caixa” Foundation (based in Spain) to narrow the education gap in the world by providing quality digital education to children in vulnerable environments in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. To do so, ProFuturo relies on digital technology, in order to reach more people in less time and provide more personalised education and innovative teaching-learning. experiences. The health crisis has made the value of these tools more obvious as ways to take education beyond classroom walls and ensure the continuity of learning. ProFuturo wants to put its resources and expertise to good use in a crisis that at its peak leftover 1.5 billion children and youth out of school. ProFuturo's contingency plan comprises the following actions:
1. Opening of ProFuturo's digital learning platform
In mid-April, ProFuturo opened its digital learning platform to teachers and students across the world so they could continue learning from home. The platform offers:
- More than 160 online training courses and digital resources for teachers, focused on the development of their pedagogical and digital skills.
- More than 7 000 digital interactive resources for students, focused on strengthening specific skills in language, science and technology, maths, and skills for life while developing competencies that are needed to respond to 21st-century challenges (digital and communication abilities, teamwork, creativity, problem-solving and decision-making).
This content is available in 4 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese and French). ProFuturo also opened a collaborative network where educators can browse a catalogue of curated educational resources and online content. More than 1 600 educational resources can be filtered by subjects, difficulty level, and type of activities. Teachers can also curate and upload their own content to the network.
2. Building strong public and private partnerships to reach more teachers and children
Ministries of Education and institutions that wish to include the ProFuturo content in their school educational platforms (LMS) or use them in radio or TV broadcasts can do it free of charge and with no difficult legal process. To date, ProFuturo has reached agreements with the governments of Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. In addition, together with the African Union, it has offered technical assistance to ministries of education in several African countries to develop an offline Learning Management System (LMS) or app to reach students with no Internet connection.
3. Adjusting content and methodologies to reach people with no access to the Internet
During the pandemic, ProFuturo adapted its blended training methodology (usually a mix of online and face-to-face) to fully remote training. To reach teachers and students with no Internet connection or access to a technological device, the programme used alternative content and formats, including printed workbooks that were distributed door to door, interactive presentations, podcasts, audio and video lessons for radio and TV broadcasting, WhatsApp forums, and an offline app for teacher training.
4. Strengthening training to local partners
ProFuturo has reinforced training on innovation, information and communication technology (ICT), and digital competencies to its local coaches in order to ensure they can become virtual tutors supporting teachers and students remotely.
5. Equipment donation
To mitigate the effects of the digital gap on education during the COVID19 crisis, ProFuturo made a donation of technological equipment in Spain. Through regional governments and social organisations, 10 000 tablets were delivered to socially vulnerable children and teenagers so they could continue their education from home during school closures.
The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated a long due need to transform education. ProFuturo believes that the transformation underway is irreversible and that hybrid learning will become the new normal, meaning that the demand for quality online educational resources and for digital native teachers will only grow. ProFuturo has a lot to bring to the table and will therefore extend these actions beyond the health crisis.
ProFuturo’s digital learning platform was opened on a global scale in April. In a matter of weeks following school closures, teachers and students from different parts of the world were already using the resources made available. However, the data on platform use collected by ProFuturo shows that access to the resources is greater in those countries where ProFuturo operates as a programme. To expand the impact of this initiative in countries other than the 38 in which it currently operates, ProFuturo has deepened its partnerships with organisations such as UNESCO, the World Bank, UNHCR, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organisation of Ibero-American States (OEI) and the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). They have helped to disseminate ProFuturo’s resources and to reach more people. In the coming months, ProFuturo will continue to work with its allies and build new partnerships to expand to new contexts.
In terms of scalability, the solution has no real limits given that the educational resources are accessible for free online. In addition to reinforcing the outreach and dissemination strategy, ProFuturo wants to continue working on the development of content for students and teachers with no Internet access.
If you are interested in learning more about how ProFuturo was able to mobilize and develop resources, foster effective use of protocols, manage implementation challenges, monitor success, and how these solutions can be adapted to new contexts download the full report for free on the OECD website.