Connecting dots of digital learning

How Most Ed-Tech Products Went Wrong

Reynol Junco is a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He researches the impact of social technologies on college students. (Follow Rey on Twitter and read about his research on his blog.) His recent article deeply resonates with what we believe in educational technology development.

Most ed-tech startups suck! Here’s where they’re going wrong (on VentureBeat)

Why so?

Lastly, there is the issue of adoption of new technologies by educational institutions. Higher education faculty and administrators are already distrustful of startups because there is inherent skepticism about for-profit ventures. Ed-Tech companies have no data showing that their product does what they say it does. Indeed, in their Unleashing thePotential of Educational Technology report the U.S.’s Council of Economic Advisers politely wrote, “It is difficult for producers of these technologies to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products.”

harvard professorHere are some suggestions for getting it right from him: 

  • Collaborate with an academic when developing your product.
  • Assess your outcomes.
  • Refine your technology based on assessment data.
  • Publish what you find.
  • Learn about the culture of academia and help academia learn about the culture of startups.

Have an idea to develop an App or a tool for learning? Read the article and think again! Check out more information in the following resources:

What Works Clearinghouse (by U.S. Department of Education)

“The high volume of research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education can make it difficult to interpret and apply the results. We review the research. Then, by focusing on the results from high-quality research, we try to answer the question “What works in education?” The goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions.” You can find information organized by subjects and topics. Topics are defined by intended outcome (such as improved math skills), intended population (such as students with learning disabilities), and types of interventions (such as school choice) that may improve student outcomes.

And Doing What Works is built with the mission to translate research-based practices into practical tools to improve classroom instruction. Also check out the recent initiative from the Office of EdTech : Education Data and Evidence Framework.

While innovations are often pushing the boundaries of what we know, the researches to support the new idea are too often lagging behind. The best way is to build collaborations between educators and technologists.

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