The EdTech landscape
Only a small proportion of EdTech innovations are evaluated for their impact or effectiveness. Evaluation data are generally unavailable to the public, and only a fraction of EdTech companies conduct randomized control trials (RCTs) or embed evidence in product design from the start.
This is partly because product development cycles within the competitive, commercial EdTech environment are often out of step with slower-paced standardized research practices. Furthermore, evidence is often considered retrospectively and not built into product development from the outset, diminishing the potential impact.
As a result, many EdTech innovations reach the market without any analysis of their impact on learning. Ineffective and potentially even detrimental technologies can therefore reach the classroom.
Bringing evidence into EdTech
Through LEIF we support early-stage EdTech companies to use evidence early in product development. We also encourage researchers and academics to embrace the new evaluation possibilities that technology offers.
We have committed CHF 40 million to encourage more evidence use in EdTech. About CHF 30 million of that is invested in venture capital firms committed to applying research standards to their funding decisions. We also help portfolio companies to meet evidence standards. We are currently working with eight venture capital funds: Brighteye Ventures, Educapital, Learn Capital, New Markets Venture Partners, Reach Capital, Rethink Education, Sparkmind.vc and Owl Ventures. These funds reach over 160 companies across the EdTech sector.
With the other CHF 10 million we are encouraging collaboration between researchers and EdTech companies through the Connecting the EdTech Research Ecosystem (CERES) network. CERES brings together global leaders in computer science, psychology, neuroscience, education, and the EdTech industry in an effort to tailor digital learning technologies more effectively to children. The network also addresses growing inequalities in access to digital learning opportunities and trains the next generation of researchers in multiple disciplines across academia and industry. The network currently consists of 20 researchers and over 40 scholars.
Through the Education Foundations Investing in Systems Transformation (EdFirst) initiative, in 2022 we convened over 20 foundations and impact investors that are together promoting evidence in EdTech through investments in venture capital funds.
Our intended impact
We aim to bridge the divide between science and industry, ensuring that robust evidence drives the development, use, and evaluation of EdTech. We want to ensure that effective use of evidence becomes a priority in EdTech investment decisions. We hope to inform philanthropic and public policy decisions to promote the creation of investment standards and better use of data in EdTech investment processes.