Which Edtech Tool Should I Choose? - Digital Promise

Which Edtech Tool Should I Choose?

March 4, 2020 | By

How can educators feel confident that an edtech tool supports learning?

As an educator, I struggled to find reliable information about edtech tools as nearly every product I looked at claimed that it was based on research. This claim felt vague—what does “based on research” even mean to this product?—and baseless as products rarely shared the research that drove their design. The process of trying to vet edtech claims to find a tool that would actually support my students was time-consuming and often frustrating.

At Digital Promise, we worked alongside educators to develop the Research-Based Design product certification. We believe that when an edtech tool is designed based on research about how people learn, it is likely to be built for successful learning experiences. The product certification intends to help educators sift through the thousands of edtech products on the market by narrowing their options to certified edtech products that they can feel confident knowing the tool will support learning.

How does the Research-Based Design product certification support educators?

In collaboration with 40 educators representing 13 districts and approximately 500,000 learners, we developed criteria to define research-based design and an application to test whether products are truly research-based. Educators can now look for an Open Badge on products’ websites or ask edtech companies to see if a product earned the Research-Based Design product certification. Check out which products have earned the certification so far here.

“Teachers don’t really have time to explore a ton of new products and figure out if they incorporated best practices, so I would use the list of certified products as a reference point. Having the learning sciences based-design would assure me that I could go to that product’s website and learn about classroom implementation and how to use it effectively pretty quickly. I feel like a lot of coaches and digital learning specialists would probably use [certifications] the most.” – Danielle Johnson, Digital Learning Coach, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (TX)

What does it take to earn the Research-Based Design product certification?

A product that earns the Research-Based Design product certification provides evidence of the following:

  • rigorous research about learning informs and drives design decisions;
  • a theoretical framework, such as a logic model or theory of action, demonstrates how research was consulted to establish the product’s goal(s) and how the product is designed to achieve the expected outcomes; and
  • an easily accessible public facing artifact shares the product’s research basis, such as a blog or video.

“We believe Digital Promise’s Research-Based Design product certification is a big step forward in finally seeing the emergence of criteria in how edtech products are developed. This certification can go a long way in reducing the leg work needed to vet products for standards of quality. Ultimately, our students benefit because we can make higher quality decisions in edtech choices.” – Dr. Baron Davis, superintendent of Richland School District Two in South Carolina

Join the movement

Share your commitment to research-based edtech tools that meet the needs of each unique learner by signing the Research-Based Product Promise.

Explore the Edtech Marketplace Today blog series to hear other voices from the field share important perspectives on challenges and strategies to improve the edtech market. You can also visit the Product Certifications website to learn more about our work.

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