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Technology can play a key role in enhancing the impact of education initiatives. However, it also presents a unique set of challenges in terms of sustainability, particularly when a project ends or is transitioned to another implementing partner. Aside from needs related to resourcing and maintenance, it is critical to ensure that partners understand not only how the original technology was selected and implemented, but also have the knowledge and capacity to make similar decisions for themselves in the future. This can be especially challenging when partners have sector- or region-specific expertise but limited experience with implementing and managing technology at the local level.
This paper focuses on how to promote technological sustainability through a capacity-building approach that integrates training on human-centered design (HCD) with the Principles for Digital Development (PDD). This model not only provides baseline knowledge on a widely-used set of guidelines for appropriate technology selection, but also empowers participants with the skills and capacities needed to implement technology solutions that take into account the unique needs and constraints of local users. By integrating a strong focus on user research and context analysis, this model also creates a safe space for practitioners without past technology experience to learn about these tools while still being able to draw on their existing expertise.
The paper uses as a case study the handover of a custom mobile assessment tool from the USAID Sindh Reading Project to the Sindh Education Foundation in Pakistan. It looks at the specific challenges related to sustaining the use of this tool and how these were addressed through a series of local trainings that used the model described above. In addition to discussing successes and lessons learned, the paper will address how this approach can be used in other contexts, including training and materials design, specific customizations, and ongoing support.
While early research is beginning to emerge on practical application of the Principles, this presentation is one of the first entries to focus on how the PDDs can be integrated with an HCD-based approach to build local capacity in support of technological sustainability. As such, it provides an important contribution for practitioners interested in ensuring that their work is not only effective in the short term, but can continue to grow and adapt in the future.