Thinking Outside the Classroom: Theories of Change and Measures to Support the Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Distance Learning Programs
This document is intended to be a living framework for thinking and talking about primary and secondary school-aged distance education interventions, beginning in low and middle-income (LMIC) and humanitarian contexts and expanding over time to include distance education interventions designed for high-income contexts. In this document, we provide three theories of change (ToCs) for three types of strategies that may be implemented as part of distance education interventions:
- Strategies to improve access to educational opportunities;
- Strategies to improve quality of educational opportunities; and
- Strategies to improve family support for educational opportunities.
We also identify a set of measures that may be a useful starting point for assessing key near-term and long-term outputs and outcomes within the ToCs. In providing this report, we seek to help practitioners, policymakers, and researchers:
- Deepen their understanding of the factors that are likely to shape children’s learning and future enrollment during time away from in-person schooling;
- Identify how common distance education strategies for primary and secondary school-aged children are expected to work to improve children’s learning and future enrollment;
- By identifying gaps between (1) and (2), generate new or additional strategies that may improve the effectiveness of distance education programs;
- Identify key outputs and outcomes for assessment as part of monitoring and evaluation efforts;
- Communicate about distance education interventions more effectively by providing an initial taxonomy of terms and noting common alternate terms; and
- Identify and adapt measures to support monitoring and evaluation of distance education programs.