Digital Promise contributes to the education and learning sciences field by publishing research, implementation, and evaluation studies. Our reports on topics of interest—including learner variability, maker education, and family engagement—put us in conversation with policymakers and thought leaders on the issues facing education leaders today.
To access our publications, visit the Digital Promise Reports Repository
Learner Variability Project | League of Innovative Schools | Marketplace Research | Adult Learning | Educator Micro-credentials | 360 Filmmakers Challenge | Maker Learning | Dynamic Learning Project | Learning Studios | Research@Work | Computational Thinking | Learning Sciences Research
Learner Variability Project [top]
Digital Promise Global has launched the Learner Variability Project initiative to better personalize and support the full diversity of learning across all students.
- Making Learning Personal For All – The Growing Diversity in Today’s Classroom
- Making Learning Personal For All – Research and the Promise of Personalized Learning
- Making Learning Personal For All – Supporting Research-Based Personalization for Reading Success
- Making Learning Personal For All – Policies and Practices That Meet Learners Where They Are
- Learner Variability Is the Rule, Not the Exception
- Learning in the 21st Century: How the American Public, Parents, and Teachers View Students’ Potential and Their Learning Experience: Learning in the 21st Century is the first in a series of surveys we plan to conduct to explore how teachers, parents, and the general public view learning and what impacts learning in order to help students reach their potential.
- Research Report on Designing for Learner Variability
League of Innovative Schools [top]
The League advances digital transformation in K-12 education by connecting the most forward-thinking leaders of the nation’s public school districts.
- Understanding the Benefits of Participating in the League of Innovative Schools: This paper investigates the effect that participating in the League has had on K-12 public school district leaders in the network. Using a logic model to guide our methodology, our findings from surveys and interviews with district leaders show that membership in the League has provided both immediate and intermediate impacts in their professional development and in how they support the districts and schools they serve.
- Erasing the Look and Feel of Poverty: This short documentary explores the challenges and successes one League district has experienced in serving a student population deeply affected by poverty. Middletown City School District, a member of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, can point to many victories in its sweeping efforts to turn around the district through its two-year kindergarten and blended learning initiatives.
- The New Librarian: Leaders in the Digital Age: Teacher-librarians in Vancouver Public Schools are viewed as indispensable to the district’s vision of a technology-infused path to improved outcomes for students. This case study dives in the district’s expansion of the teacher-librarian role to spend more time in the classroom, curate digital content and lesson plans with teachers, teach digital citizenship to students, and serve as technology experts within their schools.
- Changing a Rural Community’s Expectations through 24/7 Learning: At Piedmont City School District, in rural northeast Alabama, technology is viewed as a tool for raising expectations in a town hit by poverty and hardship. This case study profiles the mPower Piedmont initiative, through which all students in grades 4-12 receive a laptop with home Internet access despite many ongoing challenges typical of rural districts like Piedmont: a limited and ever-changing budget, the area’s lack of broadband infrastructure, and a small staff.
- Innovation Starts in the Classroom: This case study is about teacher-led innovation in the West Ada School District in Idaho under the leadership of former superintendent Dr. Linda Clark. The district believes its role is to meet the bottom-up efforts from its teachers with top-down leadership from its administrators, creating a collaborative environment needed to truly sustain innovation.
- Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Students: Sunnyside Unified School District in Arizona delves into a district-wide initiative that provided students in grades 4-12 with their own netbooks and laptops to take home, a program started under the leadership of former superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquierdo. For families, technology has created a valuable bridge between home and school that previously did not exist. For administrators and teachers, there is evidence of the breakthroughs that come with a connected learning environment, and the expected challenges that come with such an ambitious and transformative approach to education.
Marketplace Research [top]
Digital Promise is working to foster a dynamic, efficient K-12 market where informed consumers and innovative developers collaborate to create tools that improve the opportunity for all students to learn.
- Rapid Cycle Pilots: Using Edtech to Support English Learners: In 2016-2017 Digital Promise conducted pilots of two different edtech tools to support English Learners in San Diego area school districts. This report shares process and outcome findings to improve the design, selection, and implementation of edtech for English Learners.
- Rapid Cycle Pilots: Summer Ed-Tech Programs: This report summarizes results from pilots of virtual summer learning programs in three League of Innovative Schools districts in summer 2016. It includes recommendations for running summer learning programs enabled by ed-tech as well as results for each district.
- Rapid Cycle Pilots: Lessons Learned from Math Trials in Six Districts: This report summarizes results from pilots of math ed-tech tools conducted by Digital Promise and six League of Innovative Schools districts in spring 2016. It includes recommendations for running pilots as well as results for each district.
- Rapid Cycle Pilots: Improving Ed Tech Products through Feedback: This report shares findings from ed-tech product pilots conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Digital Promise in three Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area districts. It includes recommendations for schools and developers on how to run an effective pilot process, and product efficacy results for five ed-tech products.
- Ed-Tech Pilot Report: This report, completed in collaboration with the University of California-Davis School of Education, shares insights from a research study of how school districts across the country try out, evaluate, and ultimately purchase technology that ends up in the classroom.
- Evolving Ed-Tech Procurement in School Districts: Based on a workshop hosted by Digital Promise and IDEO, this report explores ways the education technology market in K-12 districts can be further developed through changing the ed-tech procurement process.
- Improving Ed-Tech Purchasing: This summary report illuminates key obstacles, common challenges, and potential solutions for the procurement of K-12 personalized learning tools, based on the results from a survey of district leaders, educators, and technology developers. The full report from Johns Hopkins University, Fostering Market Efficiency in K-12 Ed-Tech Procurement, is also available.
- Using Research in Ed-Tech: What Does Research-based Product Development Mean?: This guide for educational technology developers shares examples and promising practices for research-based product development, based on an analysis of 38 submissions to a crowdsource campaign of research-based ed-tech products.
- Using Research in Ed-Tech: How Ed-Tech Companies Use Research to Make Better Products: This report provides a snapshot of the current state of research use in ed-tech, and highlights promising practices for using and conducting research in product development.
- Use Research Like a Champion: How do education leaders’ needs mirror those of athletes? Learn about the need for skill and will when it comes to data-driven decision making in education.
- Market Signals for Research-Based Innovations: Learn about Digital Promise’s first edtech product certification and how to join the campaign to demand more from learning tools.
Adult Learning [top]
Digital Promise’s Adult Learning initiative encourages the design and development of digital learning opportunities that meet the unique needs of underserved adult learners.
- Accelerating Change: A Guide to the Adult Learning Ed-Tech Market: This guide, the second in our Accelerating Change series, demystifies the adult learning market landscape by identifying customer segments, defining their needs, and pointing to the untapped potential to make a significant social impact.
- Accelerating Change: How Education Technology Developers Can Jump-Start a New Adult Education Market: For entrepreneurs and technologists exploring the possibility of serving adult learners, this report argues that this is a promising time for the market and it is not a matter of whether technology can improve adult learning outcomes at scale, but how.
- Designing for Technology Adult Learners: Applying Adult Learning Theory: The five principles outlined in this design brief are based on the prevailing theories of how adults learn and can be used to develop quality technology products to provide adults anytime, anywhere learning.
- Designing Technology for Adult Learners: Support and Scaffolding: Ed-tech developers can best support adult learners by integrating into their products the five research-based instructional strategies discussed in this design brief.
- Integrating Digital Tools for Adult Learners: Four Critical Factors: If we believe in the potential of technology to bring quality digital learning opportunities to this underserved population, what can we do to accelerate adoption? Drawn from a study we supported of digital learning technologies’ effectiveness in adult basic education, this paper explores four factors that contribute to effective implementation of technology.
- Technology and Family Literacy Case Study: Briya Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.: This case study of a family literacy program using technology explores how to create a digital literacy skills curriculum to support a specific learner population.
- Technology and Family Literacy Case Study: SPICE Family Literacy Program, Central Maine: This case study of a family literacy program using technology explores how to help alleviate rural isolation with virtual learning.
Educator Micro-credentials [top]
Educator Micro-credentials provide educators with an opportunity to gain recognition for skills they develop throughout their careers.
- Continuing the Educator Micro-credential Movement: Written as an update to Micro-credentials: Driving Teacher Learning and Leadership, this report takes a look at the current ecosystem and explores recent case studies of micro-credential implementation to identify promising interventions and major challenges.
- Micro-credentials for Impact: Holding Professional Learning to High Standards: This paper, co-published by Learning Forward and Digital Promise, charts a course for creating a micro-credential system that enables powerful professional learning for educators. The paper uses Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning as a frame for exploring how micro-credentials can support effective teaching.
- Designing a Process for Micro-credentials at Scale: This paper provides a model for scaling the micro-credential assessment process for issuing organizations. By highlighting the associated workflows, logistical considerations, and theoretical assumptions that play a role in scaling the micro-credential evaluation process, this report serves as a guide for ramping up the assessment process to meet the needs of a growing micro-credential ecosystem.
- Micro-credentials: Igniting Impact in the Ecosystem: This publication is a collection of promising stories from our partners who are on their micro-credential implementation journeys. Each story identifies the ways micro-credentials are intervening in various challenges related to linking educator professional learning to positive shifts in effective classroom practice.
- Micro-credentials: Spurring Educator Engagement: This report is designed for districts and states beginning their micro-credential journey toward a more comprehensive educator professional development system, highlighting several incentive strategies already in implementation, for educators to earn micro-credentials.
- Making Professional Learning Count: This report, by the research firm Grunwald Associates, highlights the importance of effective professional development for educators and summarizes teachers’ attitudes toward competency-based professional learning.
- Micro-credentials: Driving Teacher Learning & Leadership: Written in partnership with the Center for Teaching Quality, this report explores the power of micro-credentials to support educator learning and leadership and identifies important next steps for increasing their impact.
- Developing a System of Micro-credentials: Supporting Deeper Learning in the Classroom: This publication on our flagship “Deeper Learning” micro-credentials explains how they equip educators to prepare more self-directed, intellectually curious, and engaged students for college and career readiness.
- Preparing Teachers For Deeper Learning: Written in partnership with Getting Smart, this paper outlines the attributes of next generation teacher preparation and makes recommendations to support the development of teacher preparation and development systems that will equip teachers to thrive in learning environments that develop Deeper Learning competencies.
- Research and Educator Micro-credentials: This paper examines how Digital Promise has ensured the content of the micro-credentials in its ecosystem and the process for earning them are anchored in rigorous research. The paper explores how Digital Promise screens prospective issuers to understand the research grounding their work.
- Micro-credentials and Education Policy in the United States: This policy paper takes a look at policy issues that must be addressed if micro-credentials are going to spur the transformation of professional learning that researchers call for and teachers seek.
360 Filmmakers Challenge [top]
- Key Findings from the Fall 2016 Program: This report explores the potential of the 360 Filmmakers Challenge to enable student learning and growth. Key findings from our documentation effort in Fall 2016 suggest that in creating 360° video stories, students can learn about the production process, develop important skills such as communication, collaboration, and perspective-taking, and discover new career possibilities and passions. In addition, our documentation supports the idea that authentic project prompts and a real-world audience can boost students’ motivation, persistence, and pride.
Maker Learning [top]
- Fulfilling the Maker Promise: Year One: In this report, in collaboration with MakerEd, we share what we have learned from June 2016-June 2017 about the state of maker education in U.S. schools and how these discoveries are shaping the future of the Maker Promise initiative.
- Fulfilling the Maker Promise: Year Two: In this report, in collaboration with Maker Ed, we share what we have learned from June 2017 – June 2018 about the “Maker Champions,” the growth of maker education in US Schools, and how these learnings are shaping the future of the Maker Promise initiative.
Dynamic Learning Project [top]
The Dynamic Learning Project seeks to improve education equity and student learning by supporting teachers with classroom coaching in an effort to better leverage technology in impactful ways. Our research project aims to examine and explore factors and dynamics that make coaching more effective for fostering powerful use of technology for instruction.
- Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education: This literature review, published in partnership with Stanford University’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, summarizes findings from existing research on teacher coaching and explores the following questions: What is the role of technology in the 21st century classroom? How do we best provide teachers with the time, support, and space to learn how to use new technological tools and resources effectively and to support deeper learning?
- Fostering Powerful Use of Technology Through Instructional Coaching: Research findings suggest that instructional technology coaching may be a critical lever in closing the gap in the usage of technology, sometimes referred to as the digital use divide. In the 2017-2018 school year, we provided 50 schools in 20 school districts across five states, with a grant to support an onsite, full-time instructional technology coach (called a DLP coach). Our data shows that after one year of working with their DLP coach, teachers are using technology more frequently and in more powerful ways. DLP teachers report significant increases in using technology for both teaching content and pedagogy—in other words, teachers are using technology to support what they are teaching, as well as how they are teaching it.
- Scaling Up Classroom Coaching for Impactful Technology Use: Research findings from the second year of the Dynamic Learning Project suggest that technology coaching leads to an increase in impactful use of technology in the classroom. In the 2018-19 school year, we worked with coaches in 100 schools across seven states, doubling in size from the pilot year. Our data shows that teachers who received coaching as part of the Dynamic Learning Project reported greater skills in leveraging technology in their teaching, which resulted in increased student engagement and learning.
Learning Studios [top]
Learning Studios, a program directed by Digital Promise Global as part of HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom initiative, engages a diverse group of schools and youth organizations around the world in student-centered, experiential maker learning.
- Learning Studios White Paper: Between May 2016 and May 2017, Digital Promise Global conducted a year-long research study in collaboration with Designs for Learning to learn from the the experiences of a global network of 60 Learning Studios located across Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Learning Studios Executive Summary and Full White Paper Report can be found at global.digitalpromise.org/learning-studios/learning-studios-research.
The Research@Work project aims to increase the use of research in the design, development, and implementation of innovative education programs and practices.
- Improving Research and Practice through Partnership: Lessons Learned from Santa Clara Unified Schools and UC San Francisco Researchers
Find out how Santa Clara Unified School District educators collaborate with researchers from UC San Francisco’s Neuroscape center on a research study investigating the core cognitive capacities of the brain, also referred to as executive function. Both sides discuss how partnerships built on trust, reciprocity, and mutual respect have great potential to improve both education practice and the quality of educational research. Educators and researchers interested in working together can learn from this story as they design their own education research projects.
- Learning by Design: How Design Tech High School Uses Research: Find out how Design Tech High School (d.tech) staff became learning engineers — capable of applying research to improve student learning. Through training that combined the science of learning with design thinking, d.tech educators developed ways to implement research findings in their classrooms. They’re already seeing positive results and encourage other schools, no matter the structure or curricular focus, to experiment with incorporating science of learning principles into their practice.
- The Art and Science of Learning: How New Mexico School for the Arts Uses Research: Learn how New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) incorporates the science of learning at all levels — from new teacher professional development sessions to improved classes for students. The science of learning provided the NMSA community with a shared language around many of their arts education practices, and the confidence to creatively apply relevant research findings in their classrooms.
Computational Thinking [top]
- Computational Thinking for a Computational World: This report draws from decades of research on computing education to describe how computational thinking is both central to computer science and widely applicable throughout education and the workforce. Computational thinking, which is complementary to coding and computer science, provides students a necessary skillset for solving complex problems.
Learning Sciences Research [top]
- Meeting Learners Where They Are: Using Microsoft Forms to Drive Improvement in Learning Outcomes: This qualitative study was designed to explore how teachers are using Microsoft Forms to improve student learning outcomes in primary and secondary school classrooms. Twenty-two teachers —both experienced and new Forms users— participated in an interview about how they used Forms in their teaching. This report provides concrete examples of teachers’ use of Forms and describes their support needs for starting to use this tool in the classroom. School leaders and instructional technology coaches can use the report to inform implementation plans and training on Microsoft Forms.
- Enabling Analytics for Improvement: Lessons from Year 2 of Fresno’s Personalized Learning Initiative: Now in its second year, the Fresno Unified School District’s Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI) continues to help teachers and students develop the skills, competencies and mindsets essential for “as yet imagined” futures. A unique aspect of Fresno’s PLI is its analytics partnership between Fresno Unified, Microsoft Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Digital Promise. This report describes the early success of the PLI on students’ learning outcomes, evidence on what elements of the implementation are working, and the process and principles of the analytics partnership. The report aims to share with other education systems the lessons learned from this journey.