Mark West

Mark West works in UNESCO’s Education Sector where he examines how technology can improve the quality, equity, and accessibility of learning, especially in developing countries.

He leads projects to help establish new and more human-centred trajectories for education in a digital age.

His current work encompasses the Rewired Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education and Gateways to Public Digital Learning, a UNESCO and UNICEF initiative to help countries build and improve free, open and government-maintained platforms for public education on the internet. 

Mark has spent the past two years analysing lessons learned from country attempts to shift education from schools to connected technologies as a response to COVID-19 disruptions. This work will culminate in the publication of a book entitled an Ed-Tech Tragedy scheduled for release at the end of 2022.  

Mark has authored numerous publications about education and technology. Major works include I’d Blush if I Could (2019) which led Apple and other technology firms to make changes to the way Siri and other AI assistants project gender, and Reading in the Mobile Era (2014) which brought international attention to the many ways governments, schools and families can leverage inexpensive mobile technologies to advance literacy. Both publications received considerable media attention and were positively reviewed by leading new outlets, including The New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, Der Spigel, and Time Magazine, among others.  

Mark also worked closely with UNESCO’s Futures of Education Commission led by the President of Ethiopia to develop Reimagining our Futures Together (2020), a flagship report that considers how knowledge and learning can help shape just and sustainable futures with a view towards 2050. 

In 2023, Mark will develop work to describe and analyse the proliferation of teacher certification programs run by technology corporations (Google and Apple educator programs, for example) and the increasing frequency of cyber-attacks targeting schools and universities.

Prior to joining UNESCO, Mark completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Azerbaijan and worked as a teacher and teacher training in the United States. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

Revisiting the promises of educational technologies in the aftermath of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed education from schools to educational technologies at a pace and scale with no historical precedent. For hundreds of millions of students formal learning became fully dependent on technology – whether internet-connected digital devices, televisions or radios.

Mark West’s address will share findings and analysis from a forthcoming UNESCO publication that examines the numerous – and often overlooked – adverse consequences of this shift.

In detailing what went wrong with digital learning during the pandemic, Mr. West’s address will illuminate lessons and recommendations to ensure that going forward technology facilitates, rather than subverts, efforts to ensure the universal provision of inclusive, equitable and human-centred public education.

Mr. West will also explain how UNESCO is working with countries and wide range of partners to reorient the digital transformation of education around key principles and commitments articulated in the RewirEd Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education as well as the United Nation’s call to action on digital learning. Finally, he will detail the UNESCO and UNICEF global Gateways Initiative to help countries establish and improve public platforms and content for public education.