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Success Stories out of the Institute of Education Sciences' SBIR Program: CGScholar by Common Ground Publishing

A screen shot of CGScholar by Common Ground Publishing

Last Updated: April, 2023

Product: Common Ground Scholar (CGScholar) is a learning management system that harnesses digital media to meet goals in teaching, learning, and assessment. CGScholar includes a suite of applications:

  • Community, an inclusive social media-like classroom discussion space
  • Creator, a student workspace supporting multiple feedback perspectives from peers, self, teachers, and machine
  • Publisher, so teachers and students can organize peer reviewed student projects
  • Analytics, an artificial intelligence tool to track student learning with just-in-time progress tracking
  • Bookstore, a place for sharing teacher-created interactive learning modules

CGScholar is designed to support student learning through the following activities:

  • Positions students as engaged learners, a necessary move for a generation of learners who have become used to being active participants in their personal information feeds
  • Harnesses collaborative intelligence, as learners comment on each other's posts and peer review each other's projects
  • Develops a class culture of productive diversity, where all student voices are heard, and the different perspectives and interests become an integral part of the learning experience
  • Offers students the opportunity to represent their learning in multimodal web media: text, diagram, image, video, voice/sound, infographic, datasets, and other digital media objects
  • Gives students continuous, actionable feedback on their learning from multiple perspectives in the form of peer, self, teacher, and machine feedback
  • Promotes metacognition, as rubrics guide thinking from the very start of a student project, then throughout their work as they receive interim formative feedback
  • Supports ubiquitous learning, where the CGScholar platform works as an online infrastructure similarly for in-person or remote learning

Research & Development:

CGScholar is the result of more than ten years of research and development by academic researchers and through Common Ground supported by the ED/IES SBIR program, the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Common Ground Media Lab uses design research and agile software development methodologies. Two week-long research and development cycles involve a mix of: 1) incremental changes to the existing software based on user feedback; and 2) new areas of app development, with a focus currently on a next generation of semantically aware artificial intelligence.

Numerous peer reviewed studies demonstrate the usability, feasibility, and promise of CGScholar to support educational outcomes for students from grade 4 through doctoral dissertation writing. In a study of an English Language Arts grade 7 and 8 classroom with 23 students, CGScholar's learning analytics provided students 1,172 pieces of actionable machine, teacher, and student feedback and generated progress visualizations for teachers to understand the whole class and individual student's progress based on 147,796 datapoints covering 16 different datatypes. In another study with 398 medical students, CGScholar supported the peer review processes for critical clinical analysis, anticipating the kinds of peer communication and collaborative thinking required of medical teams when coming up with medical diagnoses and plans of treatment.

Path to Commercialization:

As of 2023, CGScholar has 350,000 active accounts and is used across all subject areas from grade 4 to college, community education, and workplaces. Common Ground uses a 'freemium' resourcing sustainability model. The Community and Creator apps are offered at no charge here to users above 18-years of age. The Bookstore app also offers learning modules for free and are accessible to all on the web. Licensing fees are charged for Publisher and Analytics apps and for privacy wall-protected under-18 accounts.

Related Awards

  • US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences: "The Assess-as-You-Go Writing Assistant" (R305A090394)
  • US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences: "Assessing Complex Performance" (R305B110008)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: "Scholar Literacy Courseware."
  • National Science Foundation: "Assessing 'Complex Epistemic Performance' in Online Learning Environments" (1629161)