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Schools Are Looking for Evidence From Their Edtech. Are Companies Ready to Provide It?

Here is an interesting take on the value of introducing technology in schools. This article by By Emily Tate Sullivan, Jun 23, 2022 in EdSurge, shows how tech companies can prove that their products are doing the job they are set out to do. Little research has been done on the effect of introducing various edtech solutions in the classroom. Mostly when choosing a product districts, school leaders or teachers choose a product they have heard about, or have used themselves. But even if students like to work with a product like Kahott or Quizlet few really know the effect of the use other than that the students are haveing a good time. As they write in this article;

Schools are awash in technology in a way never before seen, thanks to the mad dash toward digital that was prompted by the pandemic a little more than two years ago.

But how well that technology works to improve outcomes for kids—or when it works, for whom, and under what conditions—remains a mystery to, well, everyone. That’s mostly because the research and evaluation necessary to find out hasn’t been conducted. And it hasn’t been conducted because, at least so far, there’s been very little incentive for education technology providers to prove their products do what they say they do.

The example they write about here is a company called Bamboo Learning, and how they looked for research to show evidence and validation that their product was in fact doing what it promised. They started looking at the four tiers of evidence under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act  (ESSA).


The Incentive Problem

The fact is most companies don’t pursue independent, rigorous research of their products because they don’t have to.

Bart Epstein, CEO of the Edtech Evidence Exchange and a champion for better regulation and oversight of the industry, says that some edtech providers realize they can get away with a colorful, well-packaged case study and call it “evidence.” So, they figure, why bother spending the time and money on something more involved?

There’s a world of difference between someone having an independent, third-party, government-funded gold standard efficacy study showing how a product performs in a similar environment, and on the other end of the spectrum something written by a marketing department that uses vaguely academic, flavored language that is meaningless.”  Bart Epstein, CEO of Edtech Evidence Exchange.

“Everything is anecdotal,” he says. “It’s natural that given the pandemic, and a huge increase in spending, and the increased media attention on the issues, and some nonprofits working on it, there’s more realization that we need that evidence.”

He hopes a more meaningful movement is within reach, “one that’s organized and is demanding more evidence and getting it and knowing what to do with it and being able to use it.”


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