International Group Publishes Guide to Ed-Tech Trialing, R&D

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This article was written by News Staff on December 5, 2023 and published by Government Technology.

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When it comes to establishing best practices for research and development of emerging technologies in K-12 classrooms, the “I’s” have it, as spelled out by a working group of venture capitalists, policymakers and educators.

Inclusivity, innovation, infrastructure and impact — those are the four tenets at the heart of testing new ed-tech tools, according to “Tenets & Principles of EdTech Trialing Networks and Environments,” a free guide published last month by the Global EdTech Testbed Network (GETN), a consortium of educators and technologists who find testbeds for emerging tools. GETN recently unveiled this guide, along with a 101-page whitepaper, “Towards Systemic EdTech Testbeds: A Global Perspective,” as resources to support ed-tech development around the world, GETN members announced in a news release.

In addition to the four tenets, the guide also lists 10 core principles regarding context or implementation: adequate funding availability; context adaptability; supportive learning environments; elevation of learning environment expertise; adequate representation and variation; vetting and decision-making for ed tech; viability of the research study; adequate personnel, resources and processes; communication and reporting; and taking action and sharing results.

All told, the guide says, the purpose of the tenets and principles is to create new terminology and shared language for a modernized, equitable approach to research and development of ed-tech tools.

“These guidelines act as both a practical and symbolic first step in building an R&D infrastructure that honors school community expertise,” Katie Boody Adorno, GETN member and CEO and founder of the nonprofit research organization LeanLab, said in a public statement. “The fact that these guidelines were created by a cross-sector, cross-cultural coalition demonstrates the far-reaching potential of this work.”

According to the guide, GETN formed in March during an event in Italy for the purpose of accelerating the success of ed-tech tools. The organization wants its new guide to help create sustainable testbeds or trialing environments and bring more cohesion, efficiency and inclusivity to U.S. research and development practices in ed tech.

“They are not meant to be taken as prescriptive; we anticipate that groups will adopt some of these principles, modify them, and/or disregard some based on their needs and goals,” the guide says. “Our hope is that these tenets and principles are helpful and generate shared learning and collaboration across the field.”

The guide identifies several barriers to research and development, most notably that not all schools and students have equal access to devices and Internet connectivity. There are also time constraints, privacy and data security concerns, and educators who are resistant to innovation or technological change.

GETN’s members include representatives from LeanLab, the Institute of Education Sciences, Digital Promise, InnovateEDU, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Owl Ventures, HolonIQ, Reach Capital, Center for Education Market Dynamics, and various other organizations, according to the news release.