Using Research in Ed Tech: What Does "Research-Based" Really Mean? - Digital Promise

Using Research in Ed Tech: What Does “Research-Based” Really Mean?

October 6, 2015 | By


In a recent Digital Promise study, a majority of ed tech product developers told us their products are “research-based.” Yet, many school leaders are skeptical of these claims. It can be difficult to find details about research study findings in companies’ marketing materials, or to interpret how the developer applied these findings.

On the other hand, developers aren’t always sure what kind of research evidence is most valuable to their customers. Both groups are left to wonder: What does “research-based” really mean? What is the best way to use research to create an effective product?

With the release of their Ed Tech Developer’s Guide, the U.S. Department of Education is helping lead the way to support developers in translating education research into useful products, and testing products to make sure they lead to improved outcomes.

To extend this work, we conducted a crowdsource campaign and collected examples of how 38 developers use research from initial concept to final product. Our new report, “Using Research in Ed Tech,” shares promising practices, quotes, and examples from these submissions.

The developers highlighted in this report say that using research is a win-win: it results in more effective products that will improve outcomes for teachers and students, while also improving their own ability to excel in the competitive ed tech marketplace. We hope the real-world examples in this report help clarify what “research-based” means, and start a conversation about how researchers, product developers, and educators can collaborate to create more research-based products.

In addition to sharing these findings, we also want to hear from you. Developers: how do you use research? Educators: what do you look for in a research-based product?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #researchatwork.

Download the report

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