Educational Technology for Reading Instruction in Developing Countries: A Systematic Literature Review

Andrea Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite significant initiatives to improve education globally, policy makers and researchers are concerned about literacy outcomes in developing countries, as students lack basic literacy skills even after many years in schooling. Educational technology has been championed as a potential solution to low-quality education in developing countries, yet little rigorous research on this topic exists. Since Covid-19 has caused enormous global disruption and teachers have been forced to adopt technology globally, research into the effectiveness of using technology for teaching literacy in low-income contexts is vital. This systematic review of the literature analyses and synthesises the range of international research available on educational technology to improve reading in developing countries. This review includes primary qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies, which were analysed using thematic synthesis. The review concludes that there is some suggestive evidence that reasons for the success of educational technology literacy interventions may include ongoing teacher professional development, interactive multimedia features, and a focus on phonics and progressive reading skills. The current limited research base supports technology designs that are adaptive, engaging, and child-centred, utilising software that can differentiate for students' levels. Engaging the community using context-specific resources and incorporating the technology into a broader literacy programme and pedagogy, were also features highlighted in multiple studies. However, with a limited number of studies the strength of the evidence is weak; therefore, definitive conclusions cannot be made. The findings provide some suggestive evidence that could guide future research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3423
JournalReview of Education
Issue number3
Early online date2 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


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