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3 ways edtech benefits from learning sciences research

Finding the right edtech to support learners’ unique needs is important now more than ever

A new report on the value of research in edtech design offers a critical and detailed look at how learners and products alike can benefit from research-infused design.

An Overlooked Indicator of Edtech Quality: The Use of Learning Sciences Research, from Digital Promise, highlights how edtech products see learning sciences research as a beneficial, and even vital, part of their operation.

Some key findings explored in the report include:

1. Learning and development as a practice and industry is not fixed, and incorporating learning sciences research ensures product design and development can be as dynamic as the evolution of educational research.

“Leveraging research provides product developers with ongoing opportunities to learn about best practices that emerge from new learning sciences studies as well as contribute to the growing body of literature on a particular domain of learning,” according to the report.

2. Relationships between researchers, teachers, school and district leaders, and edtech developers can increase outcomes and bridge barriers to implementation.

“The inclusion of educator, student, and practitioner voices in edtech development is powerful; their expertise and first-hand experiences with learning can help researchers create actionable recommendations that support intended outcomes,” the report states.

3. Learning sciences research enables products to start with an anticipated outcome and build a tool intended to achieve that goal.

“Integrating research into the product design process can inform the creation of features that directly support the intended impact for educators and learners,” the report notes.

The report discusses how leveraging an edtech product’s research-basis can help education leaders determine the quality of edtech tools. Through survey results and several case studies, Digital Promise has examined the importance of using learning sciences research as a basis for edtech design.

The report’s findings resulted in a relaunch of Digital Promise’s Research-Based Design Product Certification, designed for tools to confirm a link between research on how students learn and their product’s design. Digital Promise’s Product Certifications are developed in collaboration with educators and education leaders and serve as rigorous, reliable signals for edtech that is intentionally designed to meet learners’ authentic needs.

The updated product certification, Research-Based Design for Instructional Learning Products, requires products to consider the populations involved in the research used to inform design, calls for the identification of more empirical studies in explaining the product design, and offers applicants useful templates to submit evidence.

“Learners deserve to access edtech that is built based on the field’s best understanding of learning sciences research,” says Sierra Noakes, project director of the Marketplace initiative at Digital Promise. “We’re thrilled to have certified 60 products in the certification’s first two years. We took the anniversary as an opportunity to support products in reflecting on the demographic makeup of those involved in the studies they’ve leveraged for design decisions compared to the demographics of the learners who use the tool. Our expectations of edtech should continue to evolve and grow with the dynamic movement of the field.”

Finding the right edtech to support learners’ unique needs is important now more than ever. Digital Promise Product Certifications are a foundation for exploring and vetting various tools and can serve as a great resource to utilize while sifting through options.

“We are not building products just for the sake of building products. We’re asking how we can solve for the problems that exist today,” said Suzanne Lucas, vice president of digital product marketing for Scholastic Education Solutions.”

In addition to relaunching the first certification, Digital Promise has also launched a new Product Certification in response to requests from the field. The Research-Based Learning Analytics Product Certification signals that products that were designed based on empirical research about decision making to support education leaders searching for and selecting learning analytics tools.

The Research-Based Design for Instructional Learning certification uses a competency-based learning framework, developed in consultation with more than 100 educators across the United States, as well as with Digital Promise’s Learner Variability, Marketplace, and Learning Sciences Research teams. Find further detail about certification development on our website.

Applications remain open to product developers interested in applying for the certifications.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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