15. The role of support organisations in implementing digital education policies

Lucia Dellagnelo
former Director of the Center of Innovation for Brazilian Education (CIEB)

In face of the rapid advances of digital technology in all areas of society, governments are actively working to design, update and implement digital education policies. Most of these policies seek to harness the power of digital technologies to solve quality, equity and efficiency issues in educational systems, and to develop the digital skills perceived as fundamental for all citizens and for the competitiveness of countries (van der Vlies, 2020[1]).

The Global Monitoring Report-GEM published by UNESCO (2023[2]) states that the right to meaningful connectivity, and to digital learning, is increasingly synonymous with the right to education. Children and youth need to have access to learning opportunities that prepare them to lead active, productive and fulfilled lives, including the ones offered by digital technology.

The implementation of digital education policies is inherently complex for at least two reasons. First, it needs to integrate activities of different domains such as the provision of digital infrastructure in schools, the production and distribution of digital materials, and teachers’ professional development. Second, these activities require different expertise than those traditionally available at ministries or national departments of education since multi-stakeholder partnerships need to be established, managed, and monitored.

Conceptual frameworks for planning Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policies in education have already been developed by multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and UNESCO (2022[3]). Less information and technical guidance is available on how to design organisational structures and support organisations needed to effectively implement such policies.

This chapter aims at analysing how seven countries (six OECD members plus Uruguay) have established agencies and organisations for the implementation of their digital education national policies, and how some of these organisations have been extinguished or evolved over time. Understanding changes in organisational structures set in place in countries with sustained national digital education policies can generate important lessons for governments with the urgent drive to effectively implement similar policies.

This study aims to shed light on the changes and transitions that happened in a group of organisations or agencies created to support the implementation of national policies of digital education. The underlying assumption is that understanding changes in organisational arrangements for policy implementation will help countries to reflect on how to ensure effective implementation of their national policies.

The main questions are: what kind of organisational support helps make digital education policy reach schools and impact educational systems, and why have some countries changed the nature and mandate of their organisational support over different periods?

For the purpose of this study, the term national policy for digital education is used to refer to any policy at the national level created to foster the use of technology in public education at the primary and secondary levels.

The present study is based on three types of sources.

  • Documents, websites, and official documents of the countries included in the analysis regarding governance and organisational structures dedicated to supporting the implementation of their national policies of digital education. A limitation of this type of source is that websites and updated information about support organisations that have been dismantled are no longer available.

  • Policy documents and reports of international organisations that present a comparative analysis of different digital education policies and how countries set up organisational structures to implement them.

  • Research papers published in national and international journals that look at the challenges of the implementation of digital education policies, particularly in terms of organisational structures and political factors.

A keystone for the elaboration of this study was the document “Building and Sustaining National Technology Agencies” published in 2017 by Michael Trucano and Gavin Dykes which defined and described organisations/agencies created in 11 countries for the implementation of digital education policies (Trucano and Dykes, 2017[4]). Although some of the organisations included in their study are no longer active, it identified and called attention to support organisations as an important element of the effective implementation of digital education policies.

To contemplate political and geographical variation, an active search of support organisations in Latin America (Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica), Europe (Estonia, Ireland, and The Netherlands), and Asia (Korea) was carried out. The main criteria for selection involved reported changes in the existence, internal structure, or mandate of these organisations.

Examples of other support organisations which are not included in the cases studies, such as the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) in the United Kingdom, and Digital Promise in the United States, are provided in the discussion to illustrate specific elements or factors that may affect the implementation of digital education policies. The possible consequences of not having national support organisations are discussed in the context of Brazil.

The literature review conducted for this study focused on three intertwined strands: the process of implementation and scaling up digital education policies, organisational structures needed to help governments to implement policies and roles of supporting organisations in the implementation of digital education policies.

Policy implementation in education can be defined “as a purposeful and multidirectional change process aiming to put a specific policy into practice and which affects an education system on several levels” (Viennet and Pont, 2017[5]). Implementing an education policy fundamentally consists in getting many actors or agencies to cooperate at various levels of the education system with a clear attribution of tasks to each actor. The distribution of tasks and responsibilities is determined by the institutional structure in place in each education system.

Evidence of the complexity and importance of effective policy implementation has been produced by academic researchers and multilateral organisations (Gouëdard, 2021[6]; UNESCO IIEP, 2003[7]; OECD, 2020[8]).

According to the report Strengthening the Governance of Skills Systems: Lessons from Six OECD Countries, implementation “is as important as the policy design itself, and is, in fact, a key aspect of the policy success in reaching schools and classrooms” (OECD, 2020[9]).

A recent paper about the challenges of implementing and scaling up educational initiatives in different countries argues that effective large-scale implementation takes a combination of technical expertise, understanding of local contexts, political strategy, collaborative partnership, flexible adaptation, and shared vision to scale and sustain the impact of education initiatives (Wyss et al. 2023).

In the specific case of digital education policies, or ICT in education, the level of complexity for implementation can be even higher. In his analysis of the potential of ICT policies to produce system-wide changes in education, Kozma (2008[10]; 2011[11]) warns about the fact that, while policy can facilitate change, it is not necessarily followed by implementation or impact. Michael Fullan makes a similar point when proposing that technology can only produce changes in education systems when policies contemplate three pillars: pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge (Fullan and Donnelly, 2013[12]).

Further contributing to the level of complexity in the implementation of digital education policies is the need to balance the timing of deployment and execution of very different processes. According to the “Four in Balance” model proposed by Kennisnet (2015), the effectiveness of digital educational policies depends on a balanced execution of activities in different dimensions such as planning, infrastructure, teachers' digital skills, and production of digital materials. According to this model deploying computers and connectivity to schools without providing training to teachers undermines the potential positive impact of technology in education.

Another challenge to the implementation of digital educational policies relates to governance. The European Commission’s recommendations on key enabling factors for the provision of digital education include issues related to the governance of policy implementation and highlight the importance of ensuring cooperation and collaboration within government departments and with external stakeholders. The absence of a strong and effective co-ordination of the multidimensional activities involved in digital education policies may lead to a situation that, “despite progress and excellent examples of innovation, endeavours have not yet resulted in systemic digital transformation in education and training” (European Commission, 2023[13]). The same argument is presented in the OECD report on enabling factors of digital education policies which highlights the importance of the system’s governance arrangements to facilitate co-ordination and alignment among stakeholders to improve the development and implementation of the policy (OECD, 2023[14]).

Lessons from ICT policies in the United Kingdom reported by Younie (2006[15]) acknowledge that implementation is a complex procedure, not a direct translation from government policy to practice. The study found that five areas were particularly problematic for ICT policy implementation: management, funding, technology procurement, ICT training, and impact on pedagogy. According to the author, implementation needs to be filtered and analysed at least three levels since digital education policies are usually mediated through national agencies (macro), regional agencies (meso) down to individual schools and teachers(micro). Therefore, governance and effective co-ordination among different instances are key. The complexity of implementation can also be attributed to the multi-agency nature of the initiatives and their leadership (Younie, 2006[15]). Dykes (2016[16]) also identifies political disputes and lack of clear governance in digital education policies as elements contributing to the dismantling of BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), which was responsible for supporting the implementation of digital education policies in England until 2011.

In fact, Hudson et al. (2019[17]) argue that dispersed and weak organisational governance is one of the main contributors to policy implementation failure. Policies formulated at the national level may face the challenge of ensuring consistency of implementation at the sub-national level, which is difficult to do when the sub-national level has some political autonomy, as is sometimes the case of educational systems. They argue that one strategy to help the implementation of social policies (not exclusively education) is the creation of “implementation support centres, entities of various types that work alongside and often under the direction of government to support effective implementation”.

Franks and Bory (2017[18]) develop a similar concept of “intermediary organisations” which, they conclude, “appear to play a critical role not only in implementing model programmes but also in developing the necessary capacity for systems change”.

There is a growing understanding (Miao et al., 2022[3]; Tate and Greatbatch, 2022[19]) that effective implementation of digital education policies requires the creation, or adaptation, of specific organisational structures or institutions with the capacity to coordinate public and private actors and execute different activities (Kozma, 2011[11]; Miao et al., 2022[3]).

Countries have used different models and strategies for the implementation of digital education policies (Kozma, 2011[11]; UNESCO IIEP, 2003[7]). In some countries, the implementation of digital education policies is carried out by organisations/agencies which have been created for this specific goal or have taken over this responsibility by a delegation from the Ministry of Education.

In 2017 the World Bank published a report that investigated national educational technology agencies, and their functional equivalents, to understand how these organisations are structured, how they operate, and evolved over time. In describing the role of the ICT agencies in 11 countries, the authors concluded that they differ significantly in their structure, governance, and forms of funding, but all were instrumental in the implementation of ICT policies of education (Trucano and Dykes, 2017[4]).

The context has changed significantly since then. Countries like Chile and Estonia, for example, decided to discontinue their national ICT agencies and incorporate their functions back into the Ministry of Education. Meanwhile, other countries like Uruguay, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Korea invested more intensively in their national ICT agencies.

Understanding the changes that national ICT agencies underwent in recent years to better fulfil their role is important. The research on organisational personas or archetypes (Martínez-Román et al., 2020[20]; Damanpour and Schneider, 2009[21]), which looks at organisations according to their characteristics and goals can provide a useful framework for understanding some of the changes.

While researchers agree that no single pathway for effective implementation of digital education policies exists, it can be tempting to assume that, if national governments have the will and the budget, they will have the capacity to implement a digital education policy. This is in fact a difficult task. Regardless of the size and level of economic development of the country, governments face constraints related to time, human and financial resources. Understanding the role of ICT national agencies/support organisations in the implementation of digital education policies can help governments in creating organisational structures capable of ensuring that every student will have the opportunity to harness the learning innovations offered by digital education.

Since a support organisation can take many forms and functions in the implementation of digital education policies, for the purpose of this study the definition of support organisation will be comprehensive and based on their institutional role. A support organisation is defined as any institution within or outside government with the mandate of implementing public policies to promote digital learning and/or the use of technology in schools.

Trucano and Dykes (2017[4]) refer to such organisations as “national institutions emerging in countries around the world to help introduce, support, fund, share information about and evaluate the use of ICTs in education at a large scale”.

In its Guidelines for ICT Policies in Education, UNESCO (2022[3]) refer to “organisational structures” to govern and coordinate the implementation of ICT policies in education. The document states that such organisational structures may take the form of a central governing board with the authority to govern and oversee the policy implementation; a dedicated national ICT in education agency delegated to coordinate the implementation and manage collaborations; and a task team charged with implementing the policy".

Another helpful strategy to define the concept of support organisations is to look for how some of these organisations present themselves.

  • In the Netherlands, Kennisnet presents itself as a public organisation for Education and ICT which provides a national ICT infrastructure, advises the education councils, and shares knowledge about ICT with primary education, secondary education, and vocational education and training.

  • In Costa Rica, Fondación Omar Dengo is a private, not-for-profit organisation whose mandate is the development and increase of the quality of education, using computer science and the application of new technologies to educational processes (Jimenez Iglesias, 2016).

  • In Korea, The Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) states it is a public institution under the Korean Ministry of Education that promotes various projects and academic research related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education ranging from primary to higher education.

  • In Chile, the Centro de Innovación del Ministerio de Educacion (CIM), which incorporated former Enlaces, states as its mission to strengthen the innovation capacity of the education system using the potential of digital technologies to offer students learning experiences that promote their full development.

  • In Estonia, the former Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) which operated until 2020 and was incorporated by the Education and Youth Authority (HARNO) stated as its role to ensure that students from educational levels obtain the digital skills necessary for economic and societal development.

  • In Uruguay, CEIBAL is the digital technology centre for education innovation at the service of public education policies. CEIBAL promotes the integration of technologies to improve learning and foster processes of innovation, inclusion and personal growth.

  • In Ireland, the dedicated Digital Technology Division of Oide (formerly known as PDST Technology in Education) promotes and supports the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in schools. It is part of the national support service, Oide, the comprehensive Professional Development Service for Teachers created in 2023 (formerly known as and expanding the Professional Development Service for Teachers [PDST]), which operates under the aegis of the Department of Education and Skills.

The examples above demonstrate how heterogeneous support organisations can be in their legal incorporation and structure. They can take the form of:

  • Public or private organisations.

  • University Departments.

  • Units or Departments inside or outside the Ministry of Education.

  • Formal or informal structures (committees and task forces).

In the face of this comprehensive set of organisational features this paper will look at organisations that share a common goal: help governments to implement digital education policies at the national level.

There are a set of activities that support organisations may perform in order to help governments to implement digital education policies such as:

  • Planning and elaboration of digital education/ICT masterplans and strategy documents.

  • Acquisition, deployment, and maintenance of ICT infrastructure for schools (devices and Internet).

  • Set-up and management of central infrastructure such as data centres and system-wide digital platforms.

  • Promotion of teachers’ professional development in digital skills.

  • Development and distribution of digital educational materials.

  • Monitoring and Evaluation of the implementation of digital education policies.

  • Co-ordination of multiple partners involved in the digital education policy implementation.

These activities can be clustered according to their nature and the demand for investments and technical expertise they require.

For example, the acquisition, deployment, and maintenance of ICT infrastructure for schools, and management of central infrastructure such as data centres and system-wide digital platforms require specific expertise and significant investments in infrastructure. It also requires articulation with other government and private entities related to telecommunications and digital services. The professional team must include engineers, data scientists, and technology experts prepared to negotiate with public and private providers.

A second cluster includes activities such as planning, monitoring, and evaluation of digital education policies which require cross-disciplinary and academic expertise that includes knowledge of policy design and planning specific to the area of education.

A third cluster of activities is more related to education and pedagogy such as teachers’ professional development in digital and related pedagogical skills and the development and distribution of digital educational materials. In this cluster, the activities require integration with the general national education policy, specific knowledge of the field of education, and legitimacy to work with school systems and teachers.

Moreover, there is the role of co-ordination of the different stakeholders involved in the implementation of the digital education policy, and the negotiation with private suppliers and partners. This role requires not only technical expertise but legitimacy and political mandate without reproducing the constraints of a government bureaucracy. Although digital education policies are usually coordinated by ministries of education, they depend on the active participation of other ministries as well as public and private partners. In some cases, the delegation of power to coordinate the digital education policy comes directly from the highest level of government, and the supporting organisation plays the role of an executive secretariat to monitor partners’ activities and results.

The case studies presented in Annex 15.A allow us to analyse support organisations for the implementation of digital education policies operating in diverse countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, Estonia, Ireland, Korea, the Netherlands and Uruguay.

The present study does not include a detailed description of each of the selected support organisation, which can be found on their website and other documents such as Kozma (2011[11]) and Trucano and Dykes (2017[4]).

The cases are described according to the following variables:

  • Context and date of creation.

  • Main functions.

  • Changes/Transitions.

  • Current functioning.

  • Perceived advantages and challenges.

The analysis of the cases selected for this study allowed the identification of shared patterns of organisational structure and evolution among supporting organisations.

First, most of these organisations were created in the late 1980s and 1990s when there was a strong awareness of the need to use technology in education and to promote the development of 21st century skills among students. At the time most of the policies were called “ICT in education” and had a dual goal: improve the effectiveness and efficiency of educational systems and prepare citizens with digital skills which were deemed essential for national competitiveness. Estonia, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Ireland are good examples of the political commitment to make ICT a strategic driver for economic and social development.

The creation, evolution, and/or discontinuation of support organisations seem to be associated with changes in government and the launching of new policies about ICT in education, although few of these policies (Ireland and Korea are exceptions), explicitly determined the organisational structure needed for its implementation.

In general, the initial mandate of the support organisations was to create the digital infrastructure in schools and to articulate financial and technical resources from public and private sources mainly from Telecom companies. To meet this goal, flexible and independent organisational structures were considered more appropriate than governmental institutions. To illustrate this point, the creation of the Omar Dengo Foundation generated the following comment by Seymour Papert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when providing technical guidance for the first “ICT in education” project in Costa Rica: “The government of Costa Rica created a foundation to supervise the project – an unusual case in which the government itself made the decision of protecting a project from its own bureaucracy!” (Bujanda Bujanda and Muñoz García, 2023[22]).

As the deployment of digital infrastructure in schools advanced or was completed, support organisations were asked to take a more active role in developing digital learning methodologies and materials, and in training teachers. In recent years, issues related to platform management, privacy, and security of educational databases were incorporated into the mandate of support organisations. Kennisnet and KERIS are good examples of how the development, acquisition, and distribution of digital content and management of educational databases have become top priorities in their organisational agenda. Trucano and Dykes (2017[4]) noticed the same trend in their analysis of national educational technology agencies and presented their evolution in five stages: starting (generally focused on the roll-out of computers and/or Internet connectivity to schools), expanding (scaling up the initial activities), evolving (taking-up news roles), sustaining (embedding into the system), and ending (in case of mission accomplished, failure or changing circumstances).

A parallel movement to the evolution of responsibilities of supporting organisations was the creation and/or strengthening of digital education units within countries’ Ministry/Department of education. In some cases, such units gradually incorporated many of the functions initially performed by support organisations to the point that some of them were ultimately dismantled. In Chile, for example, the support to implement digital education policies evolved from an independent service provided by universities (Enlaces project) to a hybrid organisation (CET-Enlaces) and finally to the creation of a Centre of Innovation within the Ministry of education (CIM).

The case of Chile illustrates well the evolution from an external arrangement to an internal unit at the Ministry of Education with the responsibility of implementing not a specific ICT policy, but a digital component of a general educational policy. Severin (2017) argues that this evolution is important for the legitimacy and long-term funding of ICT in education policies, but that it also has its drawbacks, with increasing difficulties to develop bold and innovative strategies and the slowness of bureaucracy. Claro and Jara (2020[23]) also recognise that the integration of Enlaces to the Ministry of Education entailed a better articulation with the general education policy, but gradually restricted the renewal of the vision and the agenda of Chilean digital education policy.

Another similar trend can be observed regarding the nature and scope of the work of supporting organisations. In the last decade, organisational structures to support digital education policies evolved from organisations focused on technology to broad educational services providers. A good example in Ireland is the National Center for Technology in Education (NCTE) which was incorporated by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), which itself was incorporated in Oide, a public agency that provides: comprehensive educational services including curriculum and pedagogy; learning and teaching methodologies; school improvement and school self-evaluation; school leadership; pupil/student and teacher welfare and Information and Communications Technology. A similar movement happened in Estonia where HITSA, the Information Technology for Education Foundation, was incorporated by the Education and Youth Board (HARNO) which has six different departments of educational services including one dedicated to digital education. Nevertheless, countries like Uruguay, the Netherlands and Korea decided to keep the digital education agency separated from the general education service provider in order to maintain focus and drive for the digital transformation.

The changes in the scope of supporting organisations seem to be related to the growing realisation that the role of technology is to promote innovation in educational systems, and not only to digitalise traditional teaching and learning practices. Therefore, support organisations may need to take up the responsibility of generating, systematising, and ensuring the adoption of innovations in educational systems both at the central and school level. This is a herculean task in public settings, which may require the sum of more than one organisational persona or archetype (Damanpour and Schneider, 2009[21]; Martínez-Román et al., 2020[20]).

Considering the clusters of activities performed by the supporting organisations analysed in the present study, and additional research on organisational structures, it is possible to identify three different personas or archetypes as roles to be performed by support organisations.

Although it may be difficult to incorporate all three personas/archetypes in one single organisation, these are roles that need to be performed and should be contemplated when designing the organisational structure for the implementation of digital education policies. The concept of organisational consortiums, coalitions, and partnerships may present an innovative institutional arrangement to face the complexity of effectively implementing digital education policies. In any case the need of co-ordination is key.

An often-neglected element of digital education policies is the organisational structure needed to coordinate and support the implementation of their multidimensional set of actions. Digital education policies have a high level of complexity in their implementation because they must contemplate activities very different in scope and nature such as school infrastructure, production of digital content, and teachers’ professional development.

Transforming ambitious digital education masterplans into real innovations in teaching and learning at the school level requires commitment, technical expertise, and funding from multiple public and private agents. Without clear attribution of responsibilities and mechanisms of accountability, the necessary balance between the implementation of complementary elements may not be achieved (Kennisnet, 2015).

Well-formulated strategy document and masterplan expressing a shared vision about the goals for the use of technology in education is a necessary first step and should involve multiple stakeholders of the educational ecosystem in its discussion and validation (van der Vlies, 2020[1]). But as important as the strategies to achieve each of the goals, is the design of the organisational structure for implementing them (Andrews, Pritchett and Woolcock, 2017[24]). Establishing the necessary organisational structure will probably involve mobilising and adapting existing institutions/agencies, but may also require the creation of a specific support organisation.

The roles to be performed by support organisations need to be adapted to the national context since they may vary considerably according to size of the country, the level of centralisation of the education system and the existence of other public and private actors in the digital education ecosystem.

The role of direct service provider to schools may be more adequate to support organisations operating in small countries such as Uruguay, Estonia and Costa Rica. In Uruguay, for example, CEIBAL is responsible for the acquisition, maintenance and distribution of devices and access to Internet directly to all teachers and students in the country. However, the capacity to be a direct service provider is not only related to the size of the country, but also to the level of decentralisation of educational services. In other countries such as the Netherlands and Estonia the provision of services to schools is more focused on educational platforms and data management since schools have autonomy and funding to acquire digital infrastructure. In large countries regional and local organisations may be more suited to provide direct infrastructure and services to schools. Countries like Estonia and Ireland have opted to incorporate their ICT support organisation into broad services providers organisations such as HARNO and Oide. Even when the focus of the support organisation is not on providing direct services to schools it is important that public policies design the organisational structure, and define co-ordination mechanisms, to ensure that all schools receive the services needed to implement digital education.

The role of expert contemplates several activities ranging from development, selection and distribution of digital content; teachers’ training; management of learning and data systems, to monitoring and providing recommendations for improvements in the digital education policy. Expertise on defining interoperability standards, creating criteria for the selection of digital educational resources and management of learning platforms is not commonly found among professionals in the education ecosystem. The work of KERIS and Kennisnet are examples of how support organisations can contribute to ensure quality and alignment to curriculum of digital resources recommended to teachers and schools.

As support organisations are increasingly demanded to elaborate methodologies for innovative teaching and learning practices using technology, their work may overlap and create potential conflicts with other organisations responsible for pedagogical issues in the education ecosystem. This is reportedly the case in Uruguay and Costa Rica. In Chile, the end of Enlaces was justified as a strategy to integrate the digital component into the general education policy and avoid organisational overlap (Claro and Jara, 2020[23]). Although this integration is desirable, specific expertise in digital education teaching and learning practices needs to be ensured. Support organisations can maintain a team of experts for developing guidelines and training teachers on innovations using technology.

Another important activity that requires expertise is monitoring and assessment of digital education policies looking both at the implementation process and results. Monitoring and assessment are components traditionally missing in most digital education policies (OECD, 2023[14]). Support organisations may work as experts in developing the indicators, collect and analyse data about the level of implementation and the use of technology in schools.

The role of leader of a digital education policy should be performed by the Ministry of Education at the political level, but may require at the operational level a specific organisation with mandate to develop the general conceptual framework and coordinate the activities of all actors involved. Leadership in implementation of digital education policies is key and should be synonymous of accountability (Andrews, Pritchett and Woolcock, 2017[24]). The operational leadership of a support organisation is vital to ensure the continuity of the digital education agenda and its respective budget, and to develop and retain a team of experts and practitioners working for the education system. Countries that have implemented a long-term digital education policy such as Estonia and Korea have established support organisations.

It Is also interesting to analyse countries that do not have national support organisations for the implementation of digital education policies. Brazil and the United States are good examples.

The United States has a highly decentralised education system with multiple organisations providing technical support on digital education to districts and schools such as Digital Promise, the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE), The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Digital Promise may be the closest to the model of support organisation as defined in this study since it was authorised by Congress in 2008 and received initial funding from public and private partners. But since then, Digital Promise has operated more as an independent NGO with specific projects for school districts, schools, companies and other organisations, although maintaining a close relationship with the US Department of Education.

In Brazil, the central government is responsible for setting general educational policies and supporting states and municipalities in their implementation. Although there is a national ICT policy (PIEC, 2021) and a digital education strategy (PNED, 2023) approved by Congress there is no articulated organisational structure to support their implementation. The lack of central co-ordination compromises the effectiveness and efficiency of investments in digital education and creates more educational inequality. Data from the Center of Innovation for Brazilian Education (CIEB) shows significant variation in the level of adoption of technology among Brazilian schools (Centro de Inovação para a Educação Brasileira (CIEB), 2022[25]; Centro de Inovação para Educação Brasileira (CIEB), 2015[26]), which indicates that states and municipalities depend only on their organisational capacity and local partners.

Currently, considerable funds are being allocated to digital education from public and private sources, including the Telecommunications Universal Service Fund (FUST). Moreover, a new organisation (EACE) was created to connect all schools with funds from the 5G public concession. A coalition of foundations and NGOs provide support to the national, state, and municipal governments on the implementation of digital education. But these efforts would benefit from a devoted non-ministerial central co-ordination that could easily engage with private and public actors: this would allow optimising human and financial resources and avoid the duplication of efforts among stakeholders.

The existence of a support organisation does not guarantee the effective implementation of a digital education policy though. Support organisations can be discontinued due to political decisions or have their funding redirected to other government goals. They can become too attached to one model of use of technology in education and lose their capacity to generate educational innovations. Their work can overlap with other educational agencies and create institutional conflicts. But as presented in this study, the benefits of having a clearly defined organisation for the implementation of digital education national policies, working in partnership with a strong unit at the Ministry of education, seem to be a key enabler for the sustainability and effective implementation of such policies.

Creating, implementing and sustaining an effective digital education policy is a complex endeavour which requires political commitment, technical expertise and significant funding. But it is an unavoidable responsibility for education leaders and policy makers all over the world.

The responsibility of policy makers is to design and implement effective digital education policies that generate results for learning. Considering all the investments in technology that have not been able to produce such results, it is wise to learn from the experience of countries where digital education has been implemented in a consistent and sustainable way.

Based on the seven cases analysed in this study, support organisations seem to constitute a key enabling factor for the implementation of digital education policies. Support organisations may provide services to schools, develop conceptual frameworks, coordinate and monitor the implementation of digital education policies.

However, there is no single organisational model that would serve all countries. The effective implementation of any educational policy is highly dependent on governments’ capability and established organisational structures.

Therefore, before considering the creation of a support organisation for the implementation of a digital education policies, it is important to address the following questions:

  1. 1. Are there existing organisations that perform the role of service provider, expert and /or leader on digital education at the national level?

  2. 2. Could any of the existing organisations be adapted to assume the role of a support organisation for the implementation of the digital education policy?

  3. 3. Considering the size of the country and the level of decentralisation of the education system, what digital services should/could be provided to schools?

  4. 4. Does the regulatory environment of the country allow for the creation of an organisation of public interest with flexibility and accountability to establish partnerships with multiple stakeholders?

  5. 5. Would procurement processes conducted by the organisation be more agile when using public funds?

  6. 6. Is it possible to allocate long-term funding and establish accountability mechanisms to the work of support organisation?

The answers to these questions should frame and inform the decision to create, or not, a support organisation for the implementation of digital education policies. In case the benefits of creating a support organisation are expected, policy makers should consider the following recommendations:

  1. 1. Include in the design of a digital education policy the organisational structure that will be responsible for implementation. Determine the governance model and identify/create a supporting organisation capable of performing the roles of leadership, technical expertise and service provider to the educational system and/or schools.

  2. 2. The budget of the digital education policy needs to contemplate adequate and long-term funding for the activities of the support organisation. Disbursements should be linked to achievement of key performance indicators (KPIs) in the implementation of the digital education policy.

  3. 3. The Ministry of education should be the political leader of the digital education policy in order to ensure the integration to other educational policies. But, where appropriate, it should grant the mandate and autonomy to the supporting organisation to be the technical expert in digital education and coordinate the negotiations with public and private partners.

  4. 4. The role of technical expertise to propose pedagogical innovations and generate evidence about the use of technology in education may be performed through partnerships with universities. But a support organisation should have a highly qualified technical team capable of translating academic research into practical guidance to schools.

  5. 5. The role of service provider depends on the size and level of centralisation of the educational system. The range of services to be provided by a support organisation may include technical assistance to states and municipalities and direct operation of acquisition, delivery and management of digital infrastructure and software.

    • In large and decentralised educational systems supporting organisations may provide services at the national level such as the establishment of minimum parameters for digital infrastructure in schools, the elaboration of technical specifications for procurement of devices and connectivity; references for the inclusion of digital skills in the curriculum and methodologies for teachers’ professional development. They can also manage national platforms of digital learning resources and establish the parameters of software safety and interoperability in educational systems. In this context the focus of support organisations should be on providing guidelines and technical assistance to states and municipalities in the implementation of the digital education policy.

    • In smaller and more centralised educational systems support organisations may offer direct services to schools. They can acquire, distribute and maintain digital infrastructure in schools, provide digital learning content aligned to the national curriculum and provide teachers’ training in new teaching methodologies using technology. In order to offer such a wide range of services, support organisations should create decentralised units across the country or hire local partners to offer the services to schools.

  6. 6. Technical expertise is also necessary to establish tangible indicators, to monitor and evaluate the process of implementation of the digital education policy. An external organisation should be hired to conduct evaluation of the key performance indicators related to the expected results of the policy, and to the work of the support organisation.

  7. 7. In case of clear evidence of low performance of the support organisation the Ministry of education should be able to propose changes and even discontinue the funding. A new selection/procurement process should be conducted to identify a substitute supporting organisation for the implementation of the digital education policy.

  8. 8. Digital education policies should not be considered as a special or temporary initiative. Educational systems will need continuous technical and operational support to effectively incorporate technology for teaching and learning. Therefore, funding for support organisations should be included as a permanent rubric in the general budget of ministries of education.


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[34] Brenes, M. et al. (2014), Las políticas TIC en los Sistemas Educativos de América Latina: Caso Costa Rica, UNICEF.

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[26] Centro de Inovação para Educação Brasileira (CIEB) (2015), CIEB: notas técnicas #1: A importância de políticas nacionais e centros de inovação em educação, https://cieb.net.br/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/CIEB-Notas-Tecnicas-1-A-Importancia-de-Politicas-Nacionais-e-Centros-de-Inovacao-em-Educacao_v_CC.pdf.

[23] Claro, M. and I. Jara (2020), “The end of Enlaces: 25 years of an ICT education policy in Chile”, Digital Education Review, Vol. 37, http://greav.ub.edu/der/.

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[16] Dykes, G. (2016), “Building and sustaining national ICT education agencies: Lessons from England (Becta)”, World Bank Education, Technology & Innovation: SABER-ICT Technical Paper Series.

[27] Education Estonia (2020), Education Estonia, https://www.educationestonia.org/contact/.

[13] European Commission (2023), Proposal for Council Recommendation on the key enabling factors for successful digital education and training, https://education.ec.europa.eu/document/proposal-for-council-recommendation-on-the-key-enabling-factors-for-successful-digital-education-and-training.

[18] Franks, R. and C. Bory (2017), “Strategies for Developing Intermediary Organizations: Considerations for Practice”, Families in Society, Vol. 98/1, https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.2017.6.

[12] Fullan, M. and K. Donnelly (2013), Alive in the Swamp Assessing Digital Innovations in Education, https://michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/13_Alive_in_the_Swamp.pdf.

[6] Gouëdard, P. (2021), “Developing indicators to support the implementation of education policies”, OECD Education Working Papers, https://doi.org/10.1787/b9f04dd0-en.

[30] Haridus- ja Noorteamet (2023), HARNO - About, news, contacts, https://harno.ee/harno-tutvustus.

[29] HARNO (2023), ProgeTiigri programm, https://www.harno.ee/progetiigri-programm#koostoopartnerid.

[17] Hudson, B., D. Hunter and S. Peckham (2019), “Policy failure and the policy-implementation gap: can policy support programs help?”, Policy Design and Practice, Vol. 2/1, pp. 1-14, https://doi.org/10.1080/25741292.2018.1540378.

[33] Jimenez Iglesias, C. (2016), “Building and sustaining national ICT/education agencies: Omar Dengo Foundation”, World Bank Education, Technology & Innovation: SABER-ICT Technical Paper Series, Vol. 13, https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/server/api/core/bitstreams/c9b35e74-8d47-5e61-98fa-29cd66c0bfe9/content.

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[28] Republic of Estonia - Minister of Education and Research (2019), HITSA - Information Technology Foundation for Education.

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[1] van der Vlies, R. (2020), “Digital strategies in education across OECD countries: Exploring education policies on digital technologies”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 226, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/33dd4c26-en.

[5] Viennet, R. and B. Pont (2017), “Education policy implementation: A literature review and proposed framework”, OECD Education Working Papers, https://doi.org/10.1787/fc467a64-en.

[15] Younie, S. (2006), “Implementing government policy on ICT in education: Lessons learnt”, Educ Inf Technol, Vol. 11, pp. 385-400, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-006-9017-1.

Enlaces (https://www.innovacion.mineduc.cl) was created in 1992 as a pioneer project in Latin America to explore the use of technology within a larger government initiative, partly funded by the World Bank, to improve quality and equity in Chile’s education. The project was initially coordinated by a multidisciplinary team of the Institute of Computer Education at the University of La Frontera and served a small number of schools in a poor region of the country. At its beginning, Enlaces had unstructured institutional relationships although it was totally funded by the Ministry of Education. In 2005, part of the Enlaces project was incorporated by a unit within the Ministry of Education called the Center for Education and Technology (CET-Enlaces). In 2018 a new government administration extinguished CET-Enlaces and created the Center of Innovation (CIM) at the Ministry of Education with a broader mandate of promoting educational innovation.

  • Deployment of infrastructure for schools (computers).

  • Development of digital learning materials.

  • Training of teachers to use technology as means to improve teaching and learning.

  • Technical and pedagogical assistance to schools.

The presentation of the institutional arrangements in Chile for the implementation of digital education policies can be organised in three phases:

  • First Phase (1992-2005): a project coordinated by the University of La Frontera, and later by a network of Universities (RATE) that worked as regional centres and executing units of the ICT in education policy.

  • Second Phase (2005-2018): the Ministry of education formalises an internal unit called the Center for Education and Technology (CET-Enlaces) which had as many as 50 professionals (many coming from partner universities). For the first time, a national evaluation specifically designed to measured digital skills (SIMCE-TIC) was conducted with students and teachers.

  • Third Phase (2018- ): a new government administration extinguished CET-Enlaces and creates the Center of Innovation at the Ministry of Education. The new centre proposes a new approach with a strong focus on pedagogical innovations. The only activity maintained from Enlaces was the investment in school infrastructure, particularly in connectivity.

Nowadays the Center of Innovation (CIM) of the Ministry of Education has a team of 30 professionals at the headquarters and 16 regional coordinators. CIM is responsible primarily for the strategic goal of digital education under the Strengthening Learning, one of the 3 strategies of the general educational policy Plan de Reactivación Educativa. CIM organises its activities around three main lines:

  • Educational Innovations.

  • Educational digital Infrastructure.

  • Technological Innovations.

Support organisations for the implementation of Estonia’s acclaimed digital education policies have changed considerably in the last decades moving from external bodies with a specific focus on ICT to general education government agencies.

Tiger Leap Foundation (1997-2013)

The first ICT policy support organisation in Estonia was the Tiger Leap Foundation created in 1997 by the Ministry of Education as an independent agency. The foundation was a public-private partnership among the Estonian Government, ten private companies, an association of Estonian computer companies, and 26 individual experts. The foundation had as its main goal the implementation of the Tiger Leap Programme, a national development programme organised along three main pillars: provision of computers and Internet to all schools, teachers’ training, and production of digital materials in the Estonian and Russian languages (Education Estonia, 2020[27]).

The Tiger Leap Foundation was responsible for providing technical support and complementary funding for ICT investments in schools. Although its activities included teachers’ training and digital educational resources, more than two-thirds of its funds were invested in the ICT infrastructure. By the end of 2000, access to computers and the Internet was no longer the main issue, and the organisation begun to plan and implement more comprehensive activities to develop students and teachers’ digital skills (Laanpere, 2002). In 2014, the Tiger Leap Foundation was transformed into HITSA Information Technology for Education Foundation.

HITSA Information Technology for Education Foundation (2014-2020)

HITSA (2019[28]) was founded with new partners including the Republic of Estonia, the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology, Eesti Telekom, and the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications. HITSA operated as the implementing “arm” of the Ministry of Education and Research for developing and deploying new technological solutions in schools, while also engaging other stakeholders, such as universities and companies (OECD, 2023[14]). It operated as the official helpdesk for different education online tools developed by the Ministry of Education and Research. HITSA was also responsible for training educational technologists who are experienced teachers who have completed a master’s degree to become technology integration specialists at Estonian schools.

HARNO (2020-)

On August 1, 2020, HITSA activities were incorporated into the Education and Youth Board- HARNO (https://harno.ee). The Ministry of Education and Research decided to merge several institutions and foundations into one government agency called the Education and Youth Board (HARNO) with the mission of supporting the implementation of its policies. HARNO was established based on a merger of the services of the Innove Foundation, Archimedes Foundation, Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA), and Estonian Youth Work Center. HARNO is responsible for a broad range of activities from primary education to higher education, including providing tools for learning and teaching, and international relations to promote the Estonian educational model. HARNO has currently eight different departments for general educational services, and the digital education programmes are under the Department of Innovation and Cooperation (HARNO, 2023[29]) .

HARNO’s specific activities related to digital education:

  • Co-ordination of the “ProgeTiigr” program, an evolution of the Tiger Leap Program, to develop learner’' digital competence and technological literacy. 

  • Support for the development of digital competence and technological literacy of teachers and supervisors and the promotion of professional networks.

  • Co-finance the acquisition of necessary equipment for schools.

  • Co-ordination of IT Academy, a cooperation platform to articulate entrepreneurs, universities, and schools.

HARNO currently has eight departments and two affiliated agencies, which employ over 400 people, to fulfil its ambitious mission of offering “Estonian people high-quality, modern, and equally accessible educational opportunities” (Haridus- ja Noorteamet, 2023[30]).

The digital education programme is under HARNO’s Department of Innovation and Cooperation with the broadly defined goal of encouraging, developing, and testing innovations in the field of education and youth. It works with partners to introduce innovative learning, including digital materials and methodologies, and updates and enforces IT education at all levels of education.

KERIS (https://www.keris.or.kr/) (Korea Education and Research Information Service) is a public organisation created in 1999 by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology of Korea following its first Master Plan for Informatisation of Educational Services launched in 1996 with an explicit focus on building an ICT infrastructure for education (Kwon and Jang, 2017). Since then, six other master plans for ICT in education have been launched in Korea and KERIS activities broadened considerably to include methodologies and digital educational materials, the creation and management of the education data centre, and training in digital skills for educational professionals.

Among the main activities developed by KERIS, are:

  • Building and operating digital learning platforms for all levels of education.

  • Building an ecosystem for digital educational resources, which includes the standardisation and certification of digital content and procurement processes with vendors.

  • Management of the National Education Information System (NEIS).

  • Establishment and operation of administration and finance system of regional offices of education.

  • Operating a research information-sharing system.

  • Operating the Education Data Center.

KERIS was created in 1999 as a merger of two specialised institutions that had been created in 1996 by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology: Korea Multimedia Education Center (KMEC) and the Korea Research Information Center (KRIC). KMEC had the role of running EDUNET, the first online education service in the country for elementary and secondary schools. KRIC was established to digitalise existing research and education information, build a national research information database, and provide an information retrieval service. As the use of ICT increased in all public policies in Korea the Ministry decided to create, by law, a new organisation that could integrate all operational activities related to the use of technology in education.

Since the creation of KERIS, the Ministry of Education has gone through different organisational structures (for example, it no longer includes Science and Technology) but has a special bureau for digital education that works closely with KERIS. The Minister of education appoints the president of KERIS and allocates the budget of the organisation. Interestingly, the first presidents appointed to KERIS were professionals from the ICT area, but, more recently, professionals from management and pedagogy have assumed the role which reflects the evolution and breadth of the activities performed by the organisation.

KERIS (Korea Education and Research Information Service, 2021[31]) is a key partner in the “Digital-based Education Innovation Plan” announced by the Ministry of Education in February 2023. Together with the Ministry of Education, KERIS is promoting key issues in digital education, such as supporting the development of AI digital textbooks, operating a programme to train “digital-leading teachers”, and fostering EdTech to support public education. Previously, was developing the K-EDU Platform to integrate students’ data across all digital education activities through the use of AI techniques, one of the main activities of the previous 2021 Informatization Strategy Plan (Korea Education and Research Information Service, 2021[31]). According to its president, KERIS will continue to lead innovation in education in Korea using ICT to improve teaching and learning methods and create a new educational environment.

KERIS also supports international cooperation in digital education, helping countries to establish and manage national digital education policies.

Kennisnet (https://www.kennisnet.nl/) was founded in the Netherlands on 2 November 1998 as a public organisation to promote and support the use of ICT in education in the Netherlands. Its goal is to empower educational institutions and educators with the tools and knowledge necessary to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning processes. Kennisnet provides a wide range of services, resources, and expertise to support schools in leveraging technology for educational purposes.

Kennisnet is funded by and maintains a close relationship with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands. The ministry provides strategic guidance and oversight to Kennisnet, and they work together to advance the use of ICT in education. Kennisnet aligns its activities with the objectives and initiatives of the ministry to support the implementation of these policies, but also proposes frameworks and guidelines for the elaboration of policies for ICT use in basic education. Kennisnet’s conceptual framework “Four in Balanc” highlights the importance of balance among four elements (vision, expertise, digital resources, and infrastructure).

Kennisnet offers a variety of services to support educational institutions, teachers, and students in the Netherlands. Some of the key services provided by Kennisnet include:

  • Digital Learning Resources: Kennisnet provides access to a wide range of digital learning resources, including educational software, online courses, e-books, interactive learning materials, and multimedia resources.

  • Infrastructure and Connectivity: Kennisnet supports schools in establishing and maintaining reliable and secure ICT infrastructure and connectivity. This includes assistance with network set-up, Internet connectivity, data management, and cybersecurity measures.

  • Professional Development: Kennisnet offers professional development programmes, workshops, and training sessions for teachers and educational staff.

  • Research and Innovation: Kennisnet conducts research and provides insights into the effective use of ICT in education.

  • Online Platforms and Services: Kennisnet operates a single sign-on to various online platforms and services.

  • Digital Safety and Privacy: guidance to schools on topics such as data protection, online safety for students, and responsible use of technology.

  • Monitor and evaluate the use of ICT in schools through an annual survey.

Although Kennisnet has not experienced a major organisational change since its foundation, other organisations have been created in the Netherlands to support digital education policies. Kennisnet works in partnership with these organisations to expand the breadth of digital support to schools.

For example, SURF (https://www.surf.nl) is an association of Dutch educational and research institutions that focuses on higher and vocational education. Kennisnet and SURF coordinated the public-private partnership, which involved providers of digital educational resources, distributors, and educational publishers, to create a unique identifier for students and teachers in the “educational content chain” (Kerssens and van Dijck, 2021[32]).

Another organisation to support digital education is SIVON (https://sivon.nl), created in 2017 as a cooperative of and for primary and secondary schools which offers joint tendering for ICT products and services. Kennisnet and SIVON have complementary roles in providing integral support to school boards in primary education. Kennisnet supports a national ICT infrastructure and the sharing of general knowledge of digital education while SIVON offers tailor-made solutions and support to schools.

Kennisnet continues to offer a wide range of services to primary and secondary schools in the Netherlands. The most recent services are related to data security and privacy regulations in the use of technology in schools. Kennisnet also stimulates school autonomy by offering services such as a platform that helps school boards to negotiate and process agreements directly with ICT vendors, and an App checker that gives teachers information about potential risks of any digital material they want to use in their classroom. Kennisnet has also consolidated its leadership in the co-ordination of multi-stakeholder partnerships, for example during the creation of the single sign-on for students and teachers across the digital educational ecosystem.

The Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD) (www.fod.ac.cr) is a non-governmental, private, non-profit organisation established in 1987. Since then, its mission has been to contribute to the improvement of the quality and equity of learning opportunities through innovative educational methodologies and the use of digital technologies (Jimenez Iglesias, 2016[33]).

The Foundation was created by the Costa Rican government with the mandate to implement the Programme of Educational Informatics of the Ministry of Public Education (PRONIE MEP-FOD MEP) which aimed at improving the quality of education through the use of informatics and the application of new technologies in the education system.

The establishment of a non-profit organisation to lead and execute a project like PRONIE MEP-FOD had several reasons, but mainly it had financial and administrative motivations: the legal structure of the foundation allowed for greater flexibility and operational agility, and facilitating the process of attracting external funding (Brenes et al., 2014[34]).

FOD developed the following activities in the implementation of the national digital education policy (PRONIE,1998-2023):

  • The creation of educational models for the development of 21st century strategic skills in students and teachers.

  • Technological equipment and technical support to schools.

  • Teacher professional development.

  • Advisory and support for administrative staff and teachers at schools.

  • Monitoring, evaluation, and research activities to track projects and incorporate new national or international perspectives into education.

The role of FOD for the last 36 years has been to ensure the implementation of the national digital education policy in Costa Rica. However, with every change in government, the FOD had to negotiate priorities and seek alignment with the Ministry of Public Education (MEP).

In its early stages, FOD’s work focused on the acquisition of digital infrastructure (connectivity and devices) for primary schools, which was mainly financed by external sources such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2002 with increased financial support from the Costa Rican government, the PRONIE MEP-FOD program was expanded to secondary schools.

FOD’s work gradually expanded to include teachers’ professional development of digital skills and the elaboration of pedagogical models integrating digital technologies into the core curriculum and general teaching practices.

The new government of Costa Rica has decided to create and implement a new digital education policy (to be implemented in 2024) in which the role of FOD has yet to be determined.

Currently, the Omar Dengo Foundation continues to provide guidance and technical assistance to schools, and implements three educational models within the national policy of digital education (PRONIE):

  • Educational Informatics Labs (LIE): In this educational model, students receive programming and computational thinking lessons taught by an Educational Informatics teacher.

  • Mobile Learning with Technologies (ATM): In this educational model, educational schools are provided with computers and other digital tools that can be used by students and teachers to support the curriculum’s learning.

  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation (EyI): This educational model is developed mainly within secondary technical education schools and provides lessons to develop student’' entrepreneurial and employability skills.

Oide (https://oide.ie/) (formerly the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST)) is a publicly funded organisation that offers comprehensive support services and professional learning opportunities to teachers and school leaders in a range of pedagogical, curricular, and educational areas. Oide was established in September 2023, bringing together PDST and other teacher and school leader agencies (Centre for School Leadership (CSL), Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) and the National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT)).

PDST was established in September 2010 as a generic, integrated, and cross-sectoral support service for schools. In 2012 PDST created a special unit called PDST Technology in Education dedicated to digital education. This unit incorporated the services of the former National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), an agency that had been established in 1998 by the government of Ireland to facilitate the development, funding, and use of information and communications technologies in education. NCTE was responsible for the implementation of the IT 2000 initiative and was responsible for coordinating the work of ten regional Education Centres that provided support directly to local schools. NCTE was discontinued in 2012 and all its activities were transferred to PDST Technology in Education, which states that its main role is to promote and support the integration of technology in teaching and learning. Oide Technology in Education continues with the same mission and “promotes and supports the embedding of digital technology in teaching, learning, and assessment”.

Oide Technology in Education is the main support organisation for the implementation of the Ireland Department of Education Digital Strategy for Schools 2021-2027, particularly in activities related to teachers’ professional development and infrastructure. Additionally, Oide is responsible for:

  • Providing advice and developing policy proposals for the Department of Education on issues related to digital education.

  • Management of the Department of Education's portal for schools (Scoilnet) https://www.scoilnet.ie/.

  • Implementation of a safer Internet programme (Webwise) https://www.webwise.ie/ which offers information, advice, and digital resources for teachers, parents, and students.

  • Planning tools for schools to plan and implement digital learning and to use formative assessments and students' digital portfolios.

  • Guidance and support for schools on suitable Digital Technology Infrastructure (DTI), including computing devices, connectivity, learning platforms, cybersecurity, and technical support.

  • Oide is the single point of contact and support for the 'Schools Broadband' national programme.

The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) was created in 1998 by the Irish government to implement the IT 2000 digital education policy which aimed at providing classrooms with digital resources and infrastructure, and to promote teacher skills development and support. NCTE was responsible for organising a national partnership involving schools, parents, local communities, and third-level institutions together with public and private sector organisations to meet the project's ambitious aims. The plan stated the need for effective co-ordination and created an organisational structure formed by an Educational ICT Co-ordination Unit in the Department of Education and Science, a National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) at Dublin City University, and a regional IT 2000 base in 10 Education Centres. The plan was very specific about NCTE's organisational structure stating that the initial staff should "include educationists (mainly seconded teachers), experienced IT staff and administrators" (Ministry for Education and Science of Ireland, 1998[35]).

In 2010 as part of a large movement of restructuring and merger of stand-alone services to schools, the Department of Education and Skills created the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) with the responsibility of providing support and guidance to the Irish educational system in six areas: curriculum and pedagogy; learning and teaching methodologies; school improvement and school self-evaluation; school leadership; pupil/student and teacher welfare and Information and Communications Technology.

In 2012, realising the broad spectrum of activities under the area of ICT in education PSDT created a specialised unit called PSDT-Technology in Education which is also based at the Dublin City University.

In 2023, Oide was created by merging different Irish agencies to provide a fully comprehensive Professional Development Service for Teachers. Oide-Technology in Education replaced PDST-Technology in Education with the same mandate and resources.

Oide Technology in Education (TiE) is the main support organisation for the implementation of Ireland’s Department of Education Digital Strategy for Schools 2021-2027, particularly in activities related to teacher professional development and infrastructure. According to the policy document, all Oide (formerly PDST) professional learning courses and supports should be designed to build digital competence and effectively embed digital technologies in teaching, learning, and assessment. The Oide dedicated Technology in Education Team (Oide TiE) and a team of digital technology advisers will continue to develop and facilitate flexible differentiated models of Teachers' Professional Training.

Plan CEIBAL (https://ceibal.edu.uy/) (CEIBAL, 2006[36]) was launched in 2006 by Uruguay’s president as a project to include all citizens in the digital age. The project’s original focus was on digital inclusion and equality in the access of technology. The pilot Phase of the project was implemented in 2007 with a partnership with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programme promoted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The project had an oversight board which included the president of the country, the national university and other relevant technology and education stakeholders. Operational issues were under the responsibility of two main institutions: the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU) and the National Agency of Public Education (ANEP).

As the project evolved, LATU created a new organisation with autonomous governance and budget to implement the CEIBAL project.

CEIBAL’s activities cover 6 different areas:

  • Technologies for education: devices and connectivity

  • Educational platforms: ecosystem of platforms that provide quality content in mathematics, language, programming and computer science.

  • Educational programmes: innovation in STEAM

  • Teachers’ professional development: courses and continuous learning on digital competences, life skills, innovation and new pedagogies.

  • Digital citizenship

  • Strategic information: education data management

The presentation of CEIBAL’s work can be organised in four different phases:

  • Phase 1 (2007-2010): Delivery of devices to students and teachers, internet connection for schools, installation of video conferencing equipment in schools.

  • Phase 2 (2010-2013): Development and acquisition of educational platforms and teachers’ professional development.

  • Phase 3 (2013-2020): Focus on the development of new pedagogical models using technology for learning.

  • Phase 4 (2020-): Focus on exploring new hybrid and blended teaching formats based on available infrastructure and search for new forms of partnerships with the educational system.

Uruguay is one of the few countries in the world where all students in public schools receive a computer with free Internet access that, after the initial delivery, is replaced twice during their educational journey (CEIBAL, 2022). The work of CEIBAL evolved from being focused on the deployment of digital infrastructure to become a centre of innovation for education, not only in Uruguay but for other Latin American countries. The focus on innovative pedagogical methodologies and teachers’ training created some overlap with the work of the National Agency for Public Education (ANEP) which is responsible for all the support services to schools. Both agencies have technical and administrative autonomy but are linked to the Ministry of Education. CEIBAL continues to expand its activities and has currently more than 500 employees.

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