Ed Dept looks for ways to quickly test tech tools
- The U.S. Department of Education’s technology office has put out a call for proposals on how to do rapid evaluations of ed tech tools’ performance.
- The proposals are supposed to cover creating a system that sets out guidelines and gives officials the tools to test innovative approaches, from assessments to evidence and documentation.
- The deadline for submissions is Sept. 3, and design of the system would begin in October and run through January 2017.
It’s not the first time the Department of Education has tried to create a system to help educators and school officials differentiate between tools that work and those that don't. The What Works Clearinghouse offers research-based rankings of approaches to everything from assistive technology for disabled students to school safety, but it also includes studies that are years old. Reports on different strategies are updated very slowly, meaning the information is often incomplete or out-of-date.
According to EdSurge, some states and districts have tested out their own rapid-cycle evaluations. In California, a pair of nonprofits is offering three-month trials of ed tech innovations this summer, and a Chicago nonprofit is hoping to do something similar. New York City does quick-turnover testing of strategies in its iZone schools.
But some experts caution against the notion that any tool in particular can “work,” in the sense of improving student outcomes. Phil Hill, a blogger, says evaluations should also take into account education structures inside schools and districts that play a larger role in determining if something works or doesn’t.