It's official! Speak Agent has earned the Research-Based Design product certification from Digital Promise. This new product certification process is intended to serve as a rigorous, reliable signal for K12 educators seeking verifiable evidence of a strong research basis in edtech products they adopt. Digital Promise found that Speak Agent is grounded in and driven by learning sciences research. We offer a clear product roadmap and theory of change that demonstrates how our product’s design is based on learning sciences research. The independent, third-party studies we cite are linked to design decisions which are woven throughout the product design.
Why Learning Sciences Certification Is a Game Changer:
US school districts spend $13.2 billion per year on education technology. And yet, less than one in 10 edtech products effectively produce the desired learning outcomes in a real-world classroom. This is often attributed to poor implementation or bad fit. But, just as often, it's because the product was not designed to succeed.
So what does it take to design for success? First, the edtech developer has to immerse its team in learning sciences research and incorporate that into every aspect of the product. Second, any research-based product must be practical for teachers to implement in real-world classrooms. It is quite a challenge to surmount both of these obstacles! It may take many failures before one achieves success.
This is why learning science certification is a game-changer. It creates a rubric for edtech developers to see what ingredients they are missing in their product development process -- and a mechanism to encourage that kind of reflection. Likewise, for school districts, it provides a minimum bar they may use in evaluating which edtech products are serious and transparent about learning science. A research-based design is not a guarantee of success. But certainly a lack of research-based design is a guarantee of failure.
There are many edtech products that test well in highly controlled environments. It can be misleading to see phenomenal results from a product when in reality these results will not be transferable to another district -- or even to another school building within a district. There are so many variables involved... It can get very messy indeed! This is another place where learning sciences research is critical.
Learning sciences research has established that the efficacy of instructional technology depends upon close alignment with the classroom curriculum, for example. So at Speak Agent we tailor the content to fit our school partner's curriculum! Another example: The research clearly shows that academic language learning requires interacting with oral and written resources in many different contexts. So Speak Agent includes listening, speaking, reading, writing and visual components using a variety of story-based activities. The power of research-based strategies is that they are broader than any single implementation. Will some schools implement better than others? Surely. But everyone's chances of success are far higher when research-based strategies are applied!
Click here for public verification of the Research-Based Design Product Certification.
Ben is CEO and Co-Founder of Speak Agent, Inc. An ESL teacher who became a leading educational app creator, Ben led the launch of PBS KIDS Mobile, where his apps resulted in significant gains in language acquisition for millions of young learners. He co-created Speak Agent to address the achievement gap for marginalized learners, pioneering a unique Content+Language integration approach based on current Learning Sciences research. Ben has served as Principal Investigator for impact studies sponsored by IES, NSF, and NIH.