​Top Education Researchers Jump Ship to Join Digital Promise

column | Movers and Shakers

​Top Education Researchers Jump Ship to Join Digital Promise

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Aug 3, 2017

​Top Education Researchers Jump Ship to Join Digital Promise

Education research is about to pick up its clock speed.

When people talk about the “gold standard” of research, the name SRI International often comes up. Now they will have to add Digital Promise to that list.

Nonprofit Digital Promise said today that two of education’s leading researchers, Dr. Barbara Means and Dr. Jeremy Roschelle, who had co-directed the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI, are joining Digital Promise. Means and Roschelle plan to create a new research center at Digital Promise that will help scientists look for ways to better tie research to practice in the classroom.

In an interview with EdSurge, Karen Cator, chief executive of Digital Promise, said that her organization wants to develop the “next generation” of research for education. Too frequently, “gold standard” research has taken so long to produce that its impact on teachers and classrooms has been minimal. “In a world where data is abundant and technology is emerging and moving quickly, research, evaluation and, yes, publishing, need to be nimble, too,” Cator said.

The work will “be designed from the get-go to be even more responsive to the needs of educators and technology innovators,” Means said in a statement. Added Roschelle: We’ll apply the ‘Learning Sciences’ to better understand how people learn important concepts and use that knowledge to guide the design of better technologies and inform effective policies and practices.”

Digital Promise has been investing heavily in trying to identify research and make it relevant to teachers. Last February, former DARPA researcher Russell Shilling joined Digital Promise to explore the question of how to create a program that could tackle “grand challenge” problems in education. (He wrote here in Scientific American about why education needs an ARPA-like group.) “That’s part of creating an ecosystem of research,” Cator observed, from “pre-competitive” research that can support the work of many companies and so result in improved products to research efforts aimed at improving the practice of teaching (and learning.)

Means and Roschelle bring decades of world-class experience with them. Means founded SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning and co-directed it for years. Her voluminous work has examined the effectiveness of innovation in education practices and in the use of technology. Roschelle similarly has contributed to rigorous efficacy research including more than 125 publications and 9 patents.

The news comes fast on the heels of Digital Promise’s announcement that it will develop a fresh professional development program, the Dynamic Learning Project, for teachers with support from Google and conference group, the EdTechTeam. A year-long pilot of this program is slated to begin this fall in 50 schools in five states.

Cator emphasized that Digital Promise’s emerging research work will cover a broad range of ages, from grade school through higher ed to adult learners. “It’s all about improving the learning opportunities for people throughout their life,” she said.

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