Giving Compass’ Take:
· NewSchools Venture Fund provides a sneak peek at their innovative approach to ed tech research. With this framework, they highlight the importance of research and learning while making changes along the way.
· What is the most productive and beneficial way for ed tech companies to research their products? Should trials be held at different points of creation?
Research is a critical component of how we do our work at NewSchools Venture Fund. In fact, we have a motto: “Share what you learn as fast as you learn it.” We believe this is useful for informing our investment strategy, and also for supporting the work of others in the field.
One of our three investment areas is ed tech. Like other innovators, ed tech entrepreneurs value research. However, especially in the early stages of product development, they are constantly refining their products to make them easier to use and more effective. Given this process, it’s not feasible to freeze product development and wait months, even years, for a traditional efficacy study.
Yet, there is still tremendous value in observing and sharing what they are learning while making changes along the way. To help address this issue, we’re creating a framework for ed tech research.
For ed tech product developers, we have outlined four key steps in our framework:
- Define the intended impact and create a logic model. Identify student outcomes you believe your product will support, and get feedback on the logic model from a diverse group of stakeholders.
- Iterate. Test feasibility of your product and conduct usability testing. Observe how the product is used by real teachers and students, and refine use cases.
- Evaluate. Collect evidence of student outcomes. Define study parameters within the range of affordable costs at the current stage, mindful of ROI.
- Share what you learn about impact with your key audiences (like teachers, investors, etc.). Synthesize evidence to communicate how your product is impacting student outcomes.
The most important point we want to make is that many types of research have value. Whether it is a small-scale trial with users, or a randomized controlled trial, or any of the many options that fall in between, there is something to be learned from it. Equally important, the entrepreneur’s journey is not linear. The steps don’t fall perfectly into a sequential order, and each step along the journey has value as an independent undertaking.
Read the full article about this ed tech research framework by Tonika Cheek Clayton at NewSchools Venture Fund.
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