New paper proposes ed-tech evaluation system

By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
September 27th, 2012

A proposed nonprofit would evaluate educational technologies.

In a new paper, two researchers have proposed to create a new third-party ratings system for educational technology products, which would help link ed-tech buyers and sellers and offer reports on software’s effectiveness.

The proposed EDU STAR system, dubbed a “Consumer Reports” for educational technology, also could promote transparency in the ed-tech product market and encourage innovation.

In “Harnessing Technology to Improve K-12 Education,” published by The Hamilton Project, co-authors Aaron Chatterji and Benjamin Jones maintain that K-12 education has seen much less technological change when compared to other U.S. markets. Chatterji is an associate professor in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and Jones is an associate professor of management and strategy in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“Despite broad attention to education, however, the United States sees little research and development in the K-12 education sector,” the authors write. “Overall, 2.9 percent of total final expenditures in the United States are spent on R&D. Yet in K-12 education, R&D accounts for only 0.2 percent of expenditure—one-fifteenth the average rate in the economy and one-fiftieth the rate seen in highly innovative sectors.”

Although most policy makers and stakeholders agree that, when implemented correctly, technology can help boost student engagement and achievement, little is known about the effectiveness of particular educational technologies. And schools, already limited by shrinking budgets, are unlikely to invest in technologies with unknown or obscure effectiveness.

“Our future prosperity depends critically on our capacity to educate,” Jones said, adding that the EDU STAR system would create an “ecosystem of innovation.”

The EDU STAR system that Chatterji and Jones propose would hold quick, inexpensive technology evaluations and then disseminate those results among the public in an effort to boost the market for educational technologies.

The system would focus on instructional software in particular. “Educational software should be a prime target for entrepreneurs; the demand for educational improvement is high, and writing instructional software has very few startup costs,” the authors write.

EDU STAR would focus on four goals:

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5 Responses to “New paper proposes ed-tech evaluation system”

September 27, 2012

How could this not make sense?

If the technology promises advanced, long term learning results and there is no validation of same educators can discount that option for another classroom proven option

This would significantly reduce traditional trial and error and empower educators to choose options that are validated to advance desired outcomes

There is little technological innovation in schools by comparison to other U.S. industries simply because schools do not want to invest their valuable resources in products that have not been vetted without bias. Teachers and administrators are weary of the value that any given technology may add to their classroom given that not all technologies are based on the same learning standards.
The Common Core State Standards, which are actively used in 48 states, enumerate the skills and competencies that students at each grade level should master upon completion. Regrettably, not all Edtech companies adhere to the standards, yet they successfully promote other aspects of their products.
The EDU Star System seeks to rate educational technology without bias and to provide schools with a list of researched backed and educationally appropriate technology. Ultimately, teachers and administrators will spend less time and use fewer resources in their efforts to find the best technological teaching aids for their schools.
The EDU Star System will underscore the efforts of companies like Hatch Early Learning. Hatch’s commitments are to only offer products that incorporate the Common Core Standards, are research backed, and are driven by the compilation of individual student profiles analyzed across 18 core competencies. Schools that invest in Hatch’s “ecosystem of innovation” receive analyzed digital “report cards” from its tablet and whiteboard classroom solutions in addition to free lifetime product support and training. Just like the EDU Star System, Hatch endeavors to make choosing and implementing classroom technologies effortless for teachers, so that they can focus on their students.

Check out Hatch’s success story:

October 1, 2012


Great Post! Giving education with the use of technology is a great way to impart knowledge to students. I am sure students will be benefited from this kind of program.

October 1, 2012

This is a much-needed concept. I’d like to learn more about it. Specifically:

I’d like to know what lessons the founders have taken from the experience of the Educational Products Information Exchange (EPIE), which had similar goals but failed to gain traction. I’d also like to know how this differs from CLRN.

I’d also like to know more about what will be evaluated: technical features and usability? Content accuracy and completeness? Standards alignment? Suitability for integration into my curriculum? Suitability for my students? Instructional effectiveness?