Games and other education technology are increasingly being used as a way to engage students in learning and support the work of teachers and educational leaders. The Institute of Education Sciences is proud to have been a part of this growth through its Small Business Innovation Research Program (ED/IES SBIR).
In recent years, thousands of schools around the country have used technologies developed through ED/IES SBIR funding, such as products by Filament Games, Fluidity Software, Zaption, and Mindset Works, to name a few. The program emphasizes a rapid research and development (R&D) process, with rigorous research informing iterative development and evaluating the promise of products for improving student outcomes. ED/IES SBIR also focuses on the commercialization after development is complete so that products can reach schools and be sustained over time.
This month, IES announced its 2016 awards, supporting 14 products covering a range of topics and forms of technology. Read about the awards here.
WATCH: YouTube Playlist of ED/IES SBIR PHASE II Awardees
The new awards continue two recent trends—developing new forms of assessment and applying next-generation technology for use in the classroom.
Emerging Forms of Assessment
All of the 2016 Phase II awards (for full-scale development) and several Phase I awards (for prototype development) are building technologies that center on assessment.
- Using Phase II awards, Brainquake and Querium are fully developing adaptive engines to assess student performance on standards-aligned topics in mathematics and provide feedback to students and teachers to improve performance and practice. Teachley and Apprendis are building platforms to organize student performance data and generate reports to inform teacher instruction. And 3C Institute is developing a website for special education teachers to assess and track the social and emotional development of students diagnosed with High Functioning-Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Using Phase I awards, Analytic Measures is developing a prototype of an app to measure grade school student’s oral reading fluency and Early Learning Labs is developing a screening assessment for teachers of children who are Spanish-English Dual Language Learners.
The assessment trend echoes the broader movement in the field, and at ED, highlighted by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which calls for new forms of digital assessments, and the National Education Technology Plan, which includes a section on assessment.
Trend 2: Developing the Next Generation Technologies to Schools and Classrooms
Modern technological advances have transformed how we work and live every day. For educators, the challenge is how to take advantage of next generation technologies in order to improve education. In the current group of Phase I awardees, many developers are seeking to make this happen.
- Schell Games is integrating a virtual reality headset within a game so that students can do immersive chemistry experiments;
- Spry Fox and Fablevision are developing mobile app-based learning games;
- Parametric Studios is developing an engineering and design platform that incorporates a 3D-printer.
- Analytic Measures is using automated speech recognition technology to assess students oral fluency in real-time; and
- Two projects are building web-based platforms to organize user-generated content to inform practice. Future Engineers is developing a platform to facilitate engineering design challenges and EdSurge is building a platform to support administrators in selecting technology tools to support school improvement.
More Opportunities for Innovation in Education
SBIR is not the only IES funding program that feeds the R&D and evaluation pipeline. The grants programs in Education Research and Special Education Research support developers across the arc of a project lifespan – from basic research to test theories to inform concept ideation, to development and refinement of interventions or assessments, and for efficacy evaluations to test fully developed interventions in schools. All awards are multi-year with funding levels varying from $1.4 million for development to $3.3 million for efficacy evaluations.
The Low-Cost, Short Duration Evaluation of Education Interventions supports rigorous evaluations of education interventions (including technology) over a short period. For developers, this program provides the opportunity to strengthen the research-base for existing technology products over the course of a school year. All awards are for up to one year and $250,000. The Request for Applications for Fiscal Year 2017 for these programs is now open, with a submission deadline of August 4, 2016.
Stay tuned for updates on Twitter (@IESResearch) as IES projects drive innovative forms of technology.
Written by Edward Metz, program manager, ED/IES SBIR