Tag Archives: learning

Buckets of data for MERL

(I’ve been blogging a little bit over at MERLTech.org. Here’s a repost.) It can be overwhelming to get your head around all the different kinds of data and the various approaches to collecting or finding data for development and humanitarian monitoring, evaluation, research and learning (MERL). Though there are many ways of categorizing data, lately I find myself conceptually organizing data streams into four general buckets when thinking about MERL in the aid and development space: ‘Traditional’ data. How we’ve been doing things for(pretty much)ever. Researchers, evaluators and/or enumerators are in relative control of the process

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The key to better education systems is accountability. So how on earth do we do that?

And what do we even actually mean when we talk about accountability?Perhaps the key theme emerging from research on reforming education systems is accountability. But accountability means different things to different people. To start with, many think first of bottom-up (‘citizen’ or ‘social’) accountability. But increasingly in development economics, enthusiasm is waning for bottom-up social accountability as studies show limited impacts on outcomes.

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Overcoming Premature Evaluation

Chris Roche (the koala – I’m the kangaroo, right) is a friend and a brilliant development thinker, even if he has an alarming tendency to be able to reference development jargon like a machine gun. If you can get past the first para, this is well worth your time. There is a growing interest in safe-fail experimentation, failing fast and rapid real time feedback loops.  This …

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How do you do ‘Adaptive Programming’? Two examples of Practical Experience help with some…

Helen Derbyshire (left) of SAVI and Elbereth Donovan (right) of LASER share some thoughts on what all the fuss is about. At a glance the two DFID programmes we work on are very different. SAVI (and its successor programme ECP) is a large scale, long-term initiative which focuses on citizens’ engagement in governance in Nigeria. LASER is a modest, shorter-term investment climate reform programme operating in eight …

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Why School Systems Matter, and How We Can Fix Them

This post first appeared on the CGD blog Views from the CenterAccountability in school systems is essential to deliver better learning and accelerate progress in developing countries. What is still really lacking—and what RISE is working towards (such as with Lant Pritchett’s coherence paper)—is a coherent and complete analytical framework capturing the key elements of a system of school accountability that can explain the divergent experiences we have seen in school reform.The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has a great symposium on schools and accountability, covering much of the research that motivated the development of RISE. Here are a few of the research highlights:Isaac Mbiti (part of the RISE Tanzania team) discusses “The Need for Accountability in Education in Developing Countries.” Brian Jacob & Jesse Rothstein dig into how we measure student ability in modern assessment systems (including some helpful discussion of what IRT can and can’t do). David Deming & David Figlio draw lessons from US experience with test-based school accountability systems, including caution about unintended consequences and ‘gaming,’ and noting that accountability seems to work best for low-performers. Julia Chabrier, Sarah Cohodes, and Philip Oreopoulos sum up what we can learn from charter school lotteries, re-emphasizing the point that charter schools seem to work best in neighbourhoods with poor performing schools.Here though I’m going to focus on Ludger Woessmann’s article, “The Importance of School Systems” to help break down the possible reasons for the differences in performance across systems.1.

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Donors fall $1 billion short in their commitment to education for Syrian refugees

The new school year for Syrian children is set to start in two months. But fighting, which has displaced more than 11 million people, is also keeping roughly 1 million refugee children out of school. Most of a $1.4 billion pledge in February to get those children back into school has yet to materialize, according

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What can we learn from Sociology about learning?

My summary on the RISE blog of the working paper from the RISE team main sociologist Susan Watkins (& Amy Kaler):”One of the key things that should strike you from this particular framework and this way of disaggregating the WDR04 accountability triangle, is that the Delegation aspect of accountability relationships in education systems is probably the least studied. The WDR04 has spawned a range of literature looking at the role of better information and better incentives for performance, and there has been plenty of research looking at financing and resourcing. But there’s next to nothing on delegation – what do parents and governments actually expect from schools? Much of the research on the economics of education looks at the effects of schooling on later outcomes, for example on earnings or health, but that is not the same question as what was initially intended.

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Physical activity and gaps in global health education: why the #PEPA16 MOOC is an important…

Ann Gates is a health care leader, clinical pharmacist, and exercise educationalist. She started her career as a clinical pharmacist in the NHS but quickly became interested in leadership and service planning. Ann is CEO and founder of Exercise Works but has also worked as NHS Director of Strategic Planning and as Head of Health Strategy, for Trent Strategic Health Authority, UK. She is passionate about global health, action on inequalities, and exercise medicine. Here she shares the benefits of physical activity and her latest venture as a co-founder of a new online training resource.

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More Than a Library: A Portal for the Supply Chain Learning Community

Too often, knowledge portals take “a build it and they will come” attitude. The thinking goes that by simply dumping enough research and best practices in a single virtual corner, you’ll attract a crowd. This is shortsighted.The internet is full of knowledge portals and digital libraries, but we are currently partnering with the Regional Centre of Excellence of Health Supply Chain Management in Kigali, Rwanda, to design something special.Positive health outcomes require access to medicines and other health commodities. This in turn demands excellent performance from dynamic and complex health supply chains.

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Participatory Video and the Most Significant Change M&E Method

Since I started looking at the role of ICTs in monitoring and evaluation a few years back, one concern that has consistently come up is: “Are we getting too focused on quantitative M&E because ICTs are more suited to gather quantitative data? Are we forgetting the importance of qualitative data and information? How can we use ICTs for qualitative M&E?” So it’s great to see that Insight Share (in collaboration with UNICEF) has just put out a new guide for facilitators on using Participatory Video (PV) and the Most Significant Change (MSC) methodologies together. The Most Significant Change methodology is a qualitative method developed (and documented in a guide in 2005) by Rick Davies and Jess Dart (described below): Participatory Video methodologies have also been around for quite a while, and they are nicely laid out in Insight Share’s Participatory Video Handbook, which I’ve relied on in the past to guide youth participatory video work. With mobile video becoming more and more common, and editing tools getting increasingly simple, it’s now easier to integrate video into community processes than it has been in the past

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ICT for M&E: Diploma Course

Back in 2010, I wrote a post called “Where’s the ICT4D distance learning?” which lead to some interesting discussions, including with the folks over at TechChange, who were just getting started out. We ended up co-hosting a Twitter chat (summarized here) and having some great discussions on the lack of opportunities for humanitarian and development practitioners to professionalize their understanding of ICTs in their work. It’s pretty cool today, then, to see that in addition to having run a bunch of on-line short courses focused on technology and various aspects of development and social change work, TechChange is kicking off their first Diploma program focusing on using ICT for monitoring and evaluation — an area that has become increasingly critical over the past few years. I’ve participated in a couple of these short courses, and what I like about them is that they are not boring one-way lectures. Though you are studying at a distance, you don’t feel like you’re alone

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The learning crisis in Sierra Leone

“Mohammed’s father is an illiterate petty trader. Although he never got any school himself, he has always been determined that Mohammed [13] should get a good education. When Mohammed joined us, we asked him, as we ask all our students, to complete a word reading assessment. The assessment, which we administer one-to-one in the child’s home, involves reading out a list of 90 words that increase in complexity and difficulty, and from the number and difficulty of the words read correctly an inference can be drawn about the student’s reading age based on UK norms.

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10 myths about girls’ empowerment and mobile learning

I had the chance to share some thoughts at UNESCO’s recent Mobile Learning Week. My presentation explored some myths about girls empowerment and mobile learning and offered suggestions of things to think about when designing and implementing programs. Ideas for the presentation were drawn from research and practitioner experiences (mine and those of others that I’ve talked with and worked with over the past few years). Here’s what I talked about below.

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Fighting and Islamic State force 670,000 Syrian children from schools

The simple act of going to school is getting harder and more dangerous for children in Syria. At least 68 attacks were leveled against schools in 2014 and some 670,000 children have recently experienced disruptions to their education, warns the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The group says at least 160 children were killed at school last

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