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Marta Carnelli

Education Research Specialist

Marta joined the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti in March 2021. She focuses primarily on building research and evidence into the implementation of the “Learning Passport” digital platform. Before joining UNICEF, Marta worked for two years as a Project Manager at the World Bank where she helped lead the set-up of the Global Education Policy Dashboard, an innovative initiative that aims to help guide countries' efforts in addressing the learning crisis. Previously, she also worked with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Bangladesh, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic where she managed a portfolio of more than fifteen impact evaluations and research studies. Marta has an MSc in Economic Development and Growth from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and a BA in Economics from Bocconi University.

Publications

Accessible Digital Textbooks: Creating Digital Tools to Enable Inclusive Education
Publication

Accessible Digital Textbooks: Creating Digital Tools to Enable Inclusive Education

In the Latin America and Caribbean region, more than 19 million children have a disability. In Jamaica, disability is a major factor of exclusion from the education system. The Accessible Digital Textbooks for All (ADT) initiative, implements accessible digital tools and content to make learning accessible to all students – with and without disabilities – in the same classroom. This report presents the research results of the ADT prototypes testing for children with and without disabilities in Jamaica. The report provides results across three areas: • It analyses teachers’ and students’ familiarity with technology, including their experience utilizing technology to support education and learning. • It investigates the pedagogical practices used for inclusive education and to integrate the ADT prototypes as tools to support inclusion and learning. • It recommends ways to improve the prototypes and outlines elements needed for their further development, implementation and scale-up in the education system. This study is part of longer-term research that examines the implementation of accessible digital textbooks in multiple countries. Future research aims to explore the impact of the use of ADTs on both student learning and inclusion on a larger scale.
Navigating Digital Learning: Insights into the Pasaporte al Aprendizaje Programme in Mexico
Publication

Navigating Digital Learning: Insights into the Pasaporte al Aprendizaje Programme in Mexico

In 2021, Mexico introduced Pasaporte al Aprendizaje, a localized version of the Learning Passport digital learning platform, to mitigate learning loss after widespread school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between October 2021 and February 2023, almost 100,000 students utilized it for upper-secondary courses. This research brief explores the design, implementation and use of the Pasaporte al Aprendizaje to strengthen students’ literacy, mathematics and science skills. The research explores the key design and implementation steps undertaken for the successful deployment and use of the Pasaporte al Aprendizaje. In addition, analysis of data from the digital learning platform shows that students assessment scores improved as they progressed through courses, in subjects such as mathematics, Spanish, chemistry and physics. The overall goal of this research is to inform improvements in the Pasaporte al Aprendizaje and provide key lessons learned for other countries implementing national digital learning programmes.
Libros de texto digitales accesibles: Creación de herramientas digitales que permitan el diseño universal para el aprendizaje y la educación inclusiva
Publication

Libros de texto digitales accesibles: Creación de herramientas digitales que permitan el diseño universal para el aprendizaje y la educación inclusiva

En América Latina y el Caribe, más de 19 millones de niñas, niños y adolescentes tienen una discapacidad. Aunque las tasas de asistencia y finalización de los estudios han aumentado de forma constante en los últimos 20 años, las barreras de acceso a una educación de calidad para las niñas, niños y adolescentes con discapacidad siguen siendo demasiado altas en la región. En el Paraguay, la discapacidad es un factor importante asociado a la participación escolar y a los resultados de aprendizaje. La iniciativa Libros de Texto Digitales Accesibles para Todos y Todas implementa herramientas y contenidos digitales para que el aprendizaje sea accesible para todos los estudiantes —con y sin discapacidad— en la misma aula. Este informe presenta los resultados del piloto realizado empleando un libro de texto digital accesible para niños, niñas y adolescentes con y sin discapacidad en el Paraguay. El informe ofrece resultados en tres áreas. En primer lugar, analiza la familiaridad y la capacidad de los docentes y los estudiantes de interactuar con la tecnología. En segundo lugar, investiga las prácticas pedagógicas utilizadas para la educación inclusiva y para integrar el libro de texto digital accesible como una herramienta en el aula para apoyar la inclusión. En tercer lugar, presenta recomendaciones para mejorar el contenido y la interfaz del libro de texto digital accesible. Este estudio forma parte de una investigación multinacional a largo plazo que examina el desarrollo y uso de libros de texto digitales accesibles. Futuras investigaciones explorarán el impacto del uso, a mayor escala, de los libros de texto digitales accesibles sobre los logros de aprendizaje de los estudiantes.
Accessible Digital Textbooks: Universal Design for Learning in Paraguay
Publication

Accessible Digital Textbooks: Universal Design for Learning in Paraguay

The Accessible Digital Textbooks for All (ADT) initiative, implements accessible digital tools and content to make learning accessible to all students - with and without disabilities - in the same classroom.

Articles

A person in Sierra Leonne is sitting at a desk in front of a computer, using the Learning Passport.
Blog

Addressing the learning crisis in Sierra Leone with the Learning Passport

Sierra Leone is facing a learning crisis, where only eight per cent of children in the third grade are able to read a simple text (UNICEF, 2022). As one of the responses to the widening learning crisis, Sierra Leone became one of the 20+ countries to launch the Learning Passport – a digital learning platform delivered through a partnership between UNICEF globally and Microsoft. The Learning Passport provides contextualized and engaging content, which has been aligned with the national curriculum in Sierra Leone.

Blogs

Reimagining Digital Learning: Lessons from the Learning Passport in Timor-Leste
Blog

Reimagining Digital Learning: Lessons from the Learning Passport in Timor-Leste

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools worldwide governments rapidly worked to deploy remote learning to continue education. 9 in 10 countries around the world used online learning platforms to support children’s learning in 2020. However, understanding of how students, especially those from marginalized households in remote areas, can access, use, and learn from digital platforms is limited. As schools reopen, digital learning is here to stay, both as a tool to support teaching and learning in the classroom and outside of it. Thus, it is imperative that we continue to learn more about what makes digital platforms work to improve learning and how they can be delivered to effectively support children and teachers, especially in vulnerable situations.Throughout 2020, the Learning Passport programme expanded in 8 countries as a remote learning response to COVID-19 school closures. Timor-Leste was the first country to implement Learning Passport in their digital learning platform called ‘Eskola Ba Uma’ (or ‘School Goes Home’). Now, as schools reopen in Timor-Leste, the Ministry of Education aims to build on the digital learning expertise built during school closures to support teachers and students within classrooms. To achieve this, UNICEF is working with the Ministry to develop the use of Eskola Ba Uma for blended teaching and learning in classrooms. As a first step, user experience testing and focus group discussions were held with teachers and students from grades 2,3,7, and 9 in four schools to understand the needs, perceptions, and constraints they face using digital learning. This rapid exercise allowed the Ministry and UNICEF to learn directly from users, informing upcoming teacher training and the wider implementation of the Eskola Ba Uma programme in schools.Children from Caitehu School learning with the ”‘Eskola ba Uma” app. This blog outlines three key findings from these user experience tests:Teachers are very excited about digital learning and supporting students to learn digital skills. All teachers agreed that digital instruction is an important way to impart digital skills to students. They felt that using digital learning tools allows students to learn from anywhere, especially during emergencies. They found that it makes learning fun (for example using YouTube videos) and gives students more opportunities to practice with interactive content. Teachers also said that they are keen to expand their own technological and pedagogical skills. However, they expressed concerns regarding a lack of access to electricity and connectivity when using the app both at school and at home.Benefits listed by teachers for students:Training and continuous support are key to enable digital learning. While all teachers in the focus groups had access to and could use mobile phones, less than half are comfortable using other devices, such as computers or tablets. Most students use smartphones owned by family members but primarily for watching videos and playing games. They still use books and other printed materials for learning at home. Many students rely on older siblings for support while using digital devices, highlighting the importance of assistance to feel comfortable when faced with challenges. Almost all teachers perceived the app to be helpful for teaching but expressed the need for training on how to use it. A few teachers and students from rural areas also felt less comfortable using the platform because they “do not know much about it”. Given the lack of previous experience with digital learning, regular training and support can make teachers feel more comfortable and improve the use of devices and the learning platform for classroom teaching. Students learn to navigate the app quickly and are intrigued by its features. After using the app for the first time, students were happy and enjoyed the opportunity to engage and learn through digital content. Students found the short training and induction on the use and navigation of the app very helpful.“This app is easy and I can use it alone, but if there are some difficulties, then we don’t know. If you Mister didn’t walk us through it, then we wouldn’t know where to press. But now we know that already. If in the future we use tablets to access this app, we will still remember. We can teach the other kids about this app.”  - A 7th-grade girl from AileuAlmost all older students were able to navigate between different sections on the app and search for relevant content. Many students mentioned they like the potential of using the app at their own pace, using it by themselves, listening to audiobooks, and watching videos. More to come. In Timor-Leste, research with teachers and students will continue as teacher training is scaled and the implementation of the Learning Passport in classrooms begins. This is part of a global initiative to build rapid action research into the deployment of the Learning Passport to learn and improve the programme as it scales across contexts. This programme, research and blog was made possible with support from GPE. This is part of a global initiative to build rapid action research into the deployment of the Learning Passport to learn and improve the programme as it scales across contexts.