The Learning Engineering Tools Competition
today announced 30 teams that are eligible to receive nearly $4 million after a global search for promising new education ideas, technologies and platforms.
The winning teams include entrepreneurs, learning scientists, educators, and researchers from around the world. With missions ranging from accelerating literacy and math skills for K-12 learners to creating tools that will accelerate the learning science research process, the educational tools developed by the teams have the potential to impact over 4 million students by the end of 2022. According to estimates calculated by each team, more than 40 million students within the next three years will benefit from these tools.
“By leveraging key advances in computation, this group of winners will help solve some of our nation’s biggest education problems,” said Kumar Garg, the Vice President of Partnerships at Schmidt Futures. “It is energizing to work with organizations, which have the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for so many students at scale.”
The competition is supported by Schmidt Futures, Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin, Walton Family Foundation, Siegel Family Endowment, Overdeck Family Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The competition was administered by Georgia State University and The Learning Agency.
Examples of winning ideas include:
- A game targeting specific Spanish-language writing skills for K-12 native and heritage speakers;
- A peer-driven formative assessment that will provide students with quicker and more actionable feedback on their work;
- A large-scale dataset to provide opportunities for researchers to develop more accurate and generalizable detectors of mind wandering;
- A conversational learning platform that improves workers’ skills through an interactive chatbot, engaging content, and AI feedback.
The competition received more than 800 entries from 60 countries. The 30 winners come from institutions and organizations across North America, the Caribbean, Australia, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Prizes range from $50,000 up to $250,000 per team. In addition, the winning teams will share insights from their work with external researchers to facilitate experimentation to improve learner outcomes and better understand student learning.
Prizes were granted to teams along four competitive tracks:
- Accelerate learning in elementary and secondary literacy and math
- Transform K-12 assessments in both cost and quality
- Facilitate faster, better, and cheaper learning science research
- Drive improvements in adult learning that boost middle class wages
“We’ve enjoyed being a part of this competition, which is both driving innovation, and also encouraging continuous improvement to maximize our understanding of how best to support adults to be successful in the ever-changing economy,” said Joshua Elder, Director of Grantmaking with Siegel Family Endowment.
“The pandemic has had a lasting impact on student’s learning, particularly those from underserved communities. The tools competition gives both individuals and organizations a chance to address this pressing need,” says Kathryn McCarthy, an assistant professor at Georgia State University. “These new tools will use learning engineering to improve education in ways that narrow achievement gaps and help all students learn, no matter what their zip code.”
In addition to eligibility for cash prizes, winning teams will also receive continued support from the competition organizers to scale their products, generate new partnerships, and receive feedback from a community of experts.
“Winning the Tools Competition is incredible for so many reasons, the main one being that this will allow us to develop our solution faster and scale to reach even more families in low resourced communities,” said Sashwati Banerjee, Founder and Director of Humanitus Learning Sciences. “This truly puts us on the international map and shows stakeholders everywhere that our solution has the ability to leverage parental engagement to make a positive impact on the life and learning outcomes of young children across India.”
A full list of winners and their projects can be found here.
This is the second year of the Learning Engineering Tools Competition. In 2021, the Tool Competition awarded $1.5 million to 18 teams around the world. Plans are already underway for another competition in 2023.
Tools Competition Background
The Learning Engineering Tools Competition 2021 consisted of three rounds of proposal evaluations and pitches before a panel of judges that included philanthropists, education technologists, teachers and researchers. The goal of the tools competition is to spur the development and deployment of technologies to maximize learning over time. The competition also aims to mitigate learning loss in K-12 students, reduce educational disparities experienced by students of color, and provide alternative higher education pathways for all adults, but particularly low-income workers.
In order to be considered for a prize, each proposal had to address a pressing learning goal connected to one of four broad educational categories:
- Accelerated learning in literacy and math. Tools that help students achieve or exceed proficiency in grade-level literacy or math skills.
- Transform K-12 assessment in both cost and quality. Tools that improve the quality of assessment to better meet the needs of educators, students and families while reducing the time or cost to develop or administer them.
- Drive improvement in adult learning. Tools that increase effectiveness or reach post-secondary education or skill training to prepare adults for the changing economy.
- Facilitate faster, better, and cheaper learning science research. Tools that accelerate learning science research by facilitating A/B testing and RCTs, improving research design, promoting replication, or releasing knowledge/data for external research.
The Learning Agency is a Washington, DC-based education organization. Our mission is to help individuals and organizations harness the power of learning to solve problems. For more information, visit https://www.the-learning-agency.com
Georgia State University is the largest institutions of higher education in Georgia. The university is one of the most diverse in the country, and is ranked among the most effective institutions of higher education for advancing social mobility among its students.