What Data Will Show That Edtech ‘Works’?

November 7, 2016

Proving Ground Director Bi Vuong speaks about how school districts and charter management organizations can utilize their data to measure how effective different educational software programs are at producing desired outcomes. 

As schools and districts choose from a growing menu of online educational products and services, many educators seek evidence to inform their purchasing decisions. Of little use are hyperbolic marketing flyers and bubbly testimonials. They’re looking for data—but which numbers are the most useful to collect and analyze?

Too often, parents, educators and, yes, reporters, simply ask “What works?” Those two words fail to capture the complexity of factors influence whether a tool can deliver results. In order to glean any meaningful insights into whether a product made any impact on outcomes, one must also ask: “In what context?”

Research organizations and universities have long examined the impact of technology products in the classroom. Yet the process if often labor and time intensive, often taking a year or more. By the time these studies are done, the product may have already changed.


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