Working paper Open Access

Literature reviews of educational technology research in low and middle-income countries: an audit of the field

Björn Haßler; Taskeen Adam; Meaghan Brugha; Kalifa Damani; Zoe Allier-Gagneur; Sara Hennessy; David Hollow; Katy Jordan; Kevin Martin; Mary Murphy; Hannah Walker

Planning a systematic review for Educational Technology research in Low and Middle-Income countries: an audit of the field.

One of the overall objectives of the EdTech Hub is to conduct a series of literature reviews on the state of educational technology in primary and secondary school settings within low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Given the variety of approaches which can be considered as ‘educational technology’ and the range of settings which are LMICs, the scale of the task presents an initial challenge. Furthermore, it would be valuable to design the initial literature search in such a way that would subsequently support detailed, systematic reviews on particular themes or topics depending upon trends within the body of literature.

In order to learn from existing related studies and inform the practical direction of the literature review, a collection of documents was examined and analysed. The collection included seven methodological documents about conducting systematic reviews, and 15 recent systematic reviews, which addressed topics related to the focus of the Hub (including a range of EdTech-related topics or education for development, for example). In this report we have two objectives:

  1. Summarise methodologies for systematic literature reviews in the field of educational technology in LMICs.

  2. Provide specific methodological recommendations on conducting a systematic literature review of the state of research on educational technology in LMICs.

To investigate systematic literature reviews in the field of interest (Objective 1), insights were drawn from an analysis of the sample of documents.  The papers selected for inclusion were chosen either because they were existing literature reviews relevant to our theme of EdTech in LMICs, or because they were analyses of specific literature review methodologies. The papers were mapped onto a framework according to their methodological stance, approaches to data gathering, and data analysis. 

This paper also discusses the implications of the analysis in relation to the work of the EdTech Hub, and how to translate the findings of the analysis into practical considerations for addressing the Hub’s research questions through a systematic literature review (Objective 2). As such, this report also represents a case study in planning a literature review in this context, which may be a useful resource for others intending to undertake similar reviews in the future. 

This document was produced by the EdTech Hub, https://edtechhub.org. It is available here: https://docs.edtechhub.org/lib/NM6CPLE9. An accompanying blogpost is available here: https://edtechhub.org/2019/12/18/reviewing_the_research_literature_in_educational_technology_for_development_balancing_rigour_and_inclusivity/ A google doc for this file is available: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XCqpTpsPqiHCgsB3KAVFtL9iuarEqF9cG9mDjzHbMIY/edit.
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