Giving Compass' Take:

• A new nonprofit, the Jefferson Education Accelerator at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, explores how and why some ed tech products are successful while others are not. 

• How is ed tech changing classroom dynamics? Have you seen a positive impact in your local school district?

• Read more about the role of technology in education. 

What makes educational technology initiatives succeed or fail? Hint: It’s not just the technology.

A new nonprofit, formed out of the Jefferson Education Accelerator at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, is embarking on an ambitious project to find the answer. The plan is to map out exactly what contributes to success and failure. And it’ll take tens of thousands of educators to bring a very blurry landscape into focus.

Right now, when a school is considering purchasing a new educational technology, whether it’s a device or a program, officials tend to research its track record. Did it work in other schools? But without knowing a lot of information about those schools, teachers and administrators can’t possibly make the best decisions, argues Bart Epstein, CEO of the Jefferson Education Accelerator, an ed tech evaluation and support venture at the university.

In determining what works in ed tech, it’s not just about student demographics or the geographic location of a school, although these factors do matter. Epstein and his team have already identified more than a dozen variables that contribute to the success or failure of educational technology initiatives. Among them:

  • Teacher agency — did teachers play a role in selecting the product?
  • Student access to technology and internet outside of the classroom
  • The number of ed tech products being implemented at the same time in the same school

Read the full article about ed tech products by Tara Garcia Mathewson at The Hechinger Report.