Play, Games and Tech for Education during a Crisis

Part 1 - Sept. 14, 2020

Live Session Recording

Accordion Content

Abstract: Caregivers are children’s first playmates and educators. This has become more significant as families are isolated at home, with no access to formal education. With a focus on the most vulnerable families, WV plans to use tech solutions to 1) send caregivers daily tips on learning through play (LtP), responsive caregiving & psychosocial well-being through recorded audio-messaging via Viamo’s free hotline service; 2) engage teachers to record bite-size LtP ‘daily lessons’ delivered by SMS; 3) mobilize faith leaders to record short encouraging audio messages & text based messages to provide psychosocial well-being & similar LtP messaging delivered via SMS and Whatsapp 4) increase access to e-books in mother tongue languages, including audio books for visually impaired children, through the use of Worldreader’s BookSmart, a tech solution that allows library access from simple feature phones 4) establish caregiver groups to promote peer support through Whatsapp and SMS.


  • Megan McGrath, Technical Advisor, Education, World Vision
  • Alodia Santos, Senior Technical Advisor, World Vision
  • Stephen Meyer, Director of Strategic Partnerships,  Viamo
  • Wendy Smith, Director of Education Programs, World Reader

Abstract: Be it public or private sector, one of the most common pedagogy employed by schools in most developing countries is to impart push-based education, catering little, if at all, to the pull side of the student-teacher relationship. While successful in a school-based hand-on environment, it starts to fall apart when it comes to home-based learning. KarMuqabla seeks to address this problem by turning learning into a competitive multi-player game driven by content taken entirely from approved national curriculum. Among the worst hit by COVID-19 are small to medium-sized schools that, for a variety of reasons, have not based their education delivery mechanism on technology. KarMuqabla aims to assist these schools by bringing them on one platform that offers learning through gaming as well as formative and summative assessment, gradually guiding these schools towards an increasing reliance on technological innovations ranging from management to teacher training and student progress.

Presenter: Aamer Ahmed Khan, CEO

Organization: Houndbyte Technologies

Abstract: Can’t Wait to Learn (CWTL) is a digital game-based learning solution, designed to deliver quality curriculum-based learning to conflict-affected children, appropriate for both girls and boys, and children with limited/no access to education due to physical disability or discrimination. Children usually access CWTL on tablets, while in groups and supported by facilitators. We are adapting CWTL to mitigate the immediate COVID-19 disruption and to support long-term preparedness. The below adaptations are designed to address children’s needs in different contexts and phases of the pandemic: 1. Downloadable link/zip file with CWTL videos, workbooks, audio and MHPSS/WASH material. 2. Increase of the number of tablets with already developed CWTL games to at least one tablet per household. 3. Mobile compatible version of CWTL accessible without internet connection. 4. “Global Game” – a global game to serve as a foundation for fast adaptation to local interface and national curriculum.

Presenter: Judith Flick, Programme Director, Can’t Wait to Learn

Organization: War Child Holland

Abstract: There is empirical evidence that the mind tries to replicate and mimic grounded experiences with concrete outcomes (Bailey, Bailenson and Cassanto (2016). This project describes a learning unit to help students develop an understanding of social distancing and the likelihood of virus diffusion. Students first use a simple immersive environment to play through several cycles. Teachers discuss with students the degree of infective aggression that they wish to explore. Students who go on to interact with ‘patient zero’ during the first cycle would be considered to be infected with the virus. For each subsequent cycle, all students who came in contact with the infected from the preceding cycles are considered to be infected. Once the cycles have been played, students are referred to a worksheet (either online or hardcopy) designed to complete the activity and to help them ‘unpack’ and discuss their observations and emerging hypotheses, in either face-to-face or online settings.

Presenter: Kenneth Y. T. Lim, Research Scientist

Organization: National Institute of Education, Singapore

Part 2 - Sept. 15, 2020

Live Session Recording

Accordion Content

Abstract: In our model, children use best-in-class software, which provides a complete curriculum that empowers learners to become literate and numerate with little to no adult instruction. The program adapts to each child’s pace, progress, cultural and linguistic context, and can be deployed in multiple contexts and languages. The software and hardware are portable and operate offline and without grid power so it can be used at home, in schools, and/or in community centers. The IRC, Imagine, Enuma, and War Child Holland implemented a home- and center-based tablet learning intervention in Rohingya refugee camps. This initial pilot aimed to test the feasibility and desirability of different implementation models in an emergency refugee setting with the ultimate plan of scaling effective models in this and other contexts of great need. Drawing on the lessons learned from this work, we are preparing to expand our reach to many more children through a robust set of pilots in a variety of contexts.

Presenter: Jennifer Welsh, Partner

Organization: Imagine Worldwide

Abstract: My idea is to unite parents, children and community members in activities that encourage learning by playing and doing. The goal is to expose children to creative activities that encourage open-ended exploration such as playing with shapes, colors and thinking of building items useful in their communities. By the elements of constructionism, this aims to create pride and ownership in the learning process and make them think practically. It also aims to make parents equal partners in playing and interacting with their children. This will be done through a variety of channels: identifying activities appropriate in a certain community given its resources (and some universal ones) particularly ones requiring no particular technology and just easily available materials. These lessons will be transmitted to people in the community through various channels such as directly to nodal characters like teachers and parents who may diffuse further.

Presenter: Jazib Zahir, Chief Operations Officer

Organization: Tintash (Pvt) Ltd.

Abstract: Curious Learning curates, localizes, and distributes free apps that allow everyone to learn to read. Pre-pandemic, 150 million children did not attend school. Another 250 million can’t read despite attending school. Abruptly, 1.5 billion children are out of school. In Africa, 90% of children read below a basic level and represent the most marginalized groups. Most online resources are in a few global languages, isolating minority language speakers further and do not help preliterate children. Engaging apps that promote self-learning means the youngest children can learn without direction. The apps are an effective support both in and out of school, making them an intervention that can meet the needs of learners during this pandemic and after. The significant assumption made in this approach is that we can reach children via smartphones. Currently, 23% of adults in Africa have smartphones. With multiple adults in a household, we can reach 50% of homes through smartphone access.

Presenter: Stephanie Gottwald, Co-Founder and
Director of Content

Organization: Curious Learning

Abstract: The COVID19 pandemic revealed the deep divide leaving almost half the world’s school-aged children without any internet connection, educational resources and educator support. EAA designed a bank of free project based learning resources to ensure meaningful continued learning for the most marginalized children specifically keeping in mind these circumstances. The projects are loosely aligned to the learning outcomes of international global curricula. 120,000+ learners between 4 – 14 years of age globally are using our engaging and interdisciplinary 100+ projects in multiple languages to acquire skills through real world learning. Pilot partners are innovatively reaching learners using radio, phone calls, text-messages and community facilitators. With overwhelmingly positive feedback from the pilot projects, we look forward to ensuring that irrespective of the circumstances, every child has a chance to continue learning and growing.

Presenter: Janhvi M. Kanoria, Director of Innovation Development

Organization: Education Above All (EAA)