EdTech Companies, Investors Join Forces to Remove Barriers to Effective Technology Implementation

Excerpt 

As educators recognize the potential of technology to support COVID-19 recovery efforts, new EdTech Evidence Exchange initiative brings industry perspectives to bear on solving edtech’s multibillion-dollar collective action problem

September 17, 2020 – The EdTech Evidence Exchange today announced a new initiative designed to surface insights from industry leaders into the challenges -- and opportunities -- of effective edtech implementation. Known as the EdTech Genome Industry Council, the effort --  which includes leaders from companies including Lexia Learning, Clever, and Khan Academy, as well edtech investors -- was developed by the EdTech Genome Project, a collaborative effort of more than 100 education research and advocacy leaders dedicated to helping schools and districts make better-informed decisions about selecting and implementing edtech tools that will work well in their contexts.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has become a critical lifeline for schools trying to keep learning going -- but its potential is stymied if the tools are not implemented effectively,” said Todd Brekhus, Chief Product Officer at Renaissance Learning. “It takes a coordinated effort like this one to facilitate better communication between teachers, researchers, administrators, and the industry community -- and take steps toward realizing the promise of technology to empower educators and students no matter where learning takes place this fall.”

The Industry Council will bring the perspectives of edtech leaders of companies and investors small and large to bear on a critical collective action problem in education technology. Each year, educators and school administrators spend more than $13 billion on thousands of technology tools and products, the majority of which are either a poor fit for a particular school, or are not implemented effectively. The value of technology has become even more critical as schools navigate their response to the pandemic: according to a recent survey, nearly 90% of educators expect that the need for technology in schools will increase in the next three years.

Through research and regular collaboration, the council will shed light on the state of edtech implementation in order to help schools and districts use technology more effectively -- and inform the development of a platform that will enable educators to share experiences and best practices from their own use of technology. 

“As our pandemic learning context makes all too clear, education technology products fall short of their promises because of the all-too-real challenges of communication and change management among a large, diverse group of stakeholders across a school system,” said Rose Else-Mitchell, chair of the Industry Council, who most recently served as Chief Learning Officer and Executive Vice President at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is an adviser to several start-ups and a Teaching Fellow at Harvard GSE. “This is a first-of-its-kind industry initiative to understand the challenges faced by the edtech community to drive high-quality product implementation wherever technology is used. Our vision is to leverage these findings alongside our school and district partners to facilitate dialogue and transparency around implementation.”

With support from philanthropic and social impact organizations including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Strada Education Network, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, the EdTech Genome Project is the first-ever sector-wide collaboration to solve this challenge and create a framework for better edtech decision-making. The project is led by the EdTech Evidence Exchange, a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development. The Industry Council is collaborating with other members of the EdTech Genome Project technical working network to publish a framework in December 2020, featuring 10 contextual variables that may make or break edtech implementation, with definitions and measurement instruments for each variable. 

“No matter the tool or its intended goals, most education technology products will fail if they are not implemented with a clear purpose and a clear plan,” said Dr. Robert Pianta, chair of the EdTech Evidence Exchange and Dean of the UVA School of Education and Human Development. “Education technology companies, in partnership with the schools and districts they serve, have an opportunity -- and a responsibility -- to better articulate and act on that purpose in ways that reflect the unique needs and priorities of the school community.”

The industry council for the EdTech Genome Project currently includes:

 

  • Jill Abbott, CEO, Abbott Consulting Group 
  • Kristal Ayres, Chief Business Development Officer, BrightBytes
  • Malvika Bhagwat, Director of Outcomes & Efficacy, Owl Ventures
  • Todd Brekhus, Chief Product Officer, Renaissance Learning
  • Alex Brown, Senior Director, Customer Technical Support & Services, Teaching Strategies
  • Dan Carroll, Chief Product Officer, Clever
  • Dan Cogan-Drew, Chief Academic Officer, Newsela
  • Matt Doherty, Chief Operating Officer, LearnPlatform
  • Nicole Foster, Head of Global Partnerships and Marketing, Amazon
  • Greg Gunn, Founder, Lingo Ventures
  • Kelli Hill, Director of Efficacy & Research, Khan Academy
  • Timna Molberger, Vice President of Partner Success, Ellevation
  • Roya Salehi, Vice President, Customer Success, Lexia Learning
  • Amy Scholz, Chief Marketing Officer, Imagine Learning
  • Maia Sharpley, Partner, Learn Capital
  • Marty Thomas, Vice President, Professional Services, Edmentum
  • Lanette Trowery, Senior Director, Learning Research and Strategy, McGraw-Hill

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