The Futures Forum on Learning: Tools Competition (“Tools Competition”) invites teachers, students, researchers, technologists, and ed tech leaders to propose a tool, technology, platform, or research project that can accelerate recovery from COVID-19-related learning loss for students between grades K-12, and advance the field of learning engineering.
Schmidt Futures and Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin are working together to help launch the competition with up to $2 million in awards.
COVID-19 has sparked a global education crisis, and highlighted the need for continued innovation in how online and blended education can support effective learning.
Rather than silver bullet solutions, the goal of the Tools Competition is to spur the development and deployment of technologies that can accelerate the recovery from pandemic learning loss and advance the field of learning engineering.
Learning engineering is an emerging discipline at the intersection of learning science and computer science that seeks to design learning systems with the instrumentation, data, and partnerships with the research community, to drive tight feedback loops and continuous improvements in how that learning is delivered in online and blended settings.
The potential solutions in the competition will be evaluated across four core criteria:
We invite potential solutions from students, teachers, tech leaders, digital learning platforms and researchers from around the globe to participate. The Tools Competition is designed in multiple phases allowing time for ideation, team-building, and project refinement.
To encourage new entrants and established platforms, participants can request an award in one of three tracks ($25,000 and under; $25,000 – $100,000; $100,000 – $250,000) based on the applicant’s existing user base and technical infrastructure. The organizers will award up to $2 million in grants. See more about tracks and award size here.
In addition to the prize funds, winners will have the opportunity to connect with prominent education researchers, edtech leaders, and representatives of large philanthropic organizations to scale their work. They will also have access to a panel of educators to test solutions.
Solutions should aim to address one of the problem areas:
The Tools Competition will have a phased evaluation process in order to give participants the time and feedback to strengthen their potential solution and build an effective team.
We are honored to have received many concept ideas from diverse stakeholders, including teachers, students, researchers, and innovators in industry. We sent notifications to all participants on October 4. If you have questions about your submission or did not receive a notification, please contact ToolCompetition@the-learning-agency.com.
Due Nov. 1, 2020: Columbia and the Learning Agency will review concepts and invite competitive proposals to submit a detailed description. Participants will revise and expand on their proposals, including adding a budget and a plan for execution. The detailed proposal should be up to 3,000 words and include a budget and proof of concept.
Mid-January 2021: The organizers will then select finalists, who will be given the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of judges.
February 2021: Winners will then be announced and receive the first installment of their award. Winners will be provided coaching, the opportunity to connect with leaders in the field, and the ability to present their idea to a panel of educators for further refinement.
Spring 2021: Winners will present on their progress to date, and open challenges, to the other winners and engage with leaders in the field. Winners making sufficient progress by Product Review Day will receive the second installment of their prize.
For Phase I, participants should submit a concept that addresses the following points in a one-page document.
You are also welcome to identify another learning goal. If you select your own, please describe why it is important and how it is related to COVID-19.
The following examples would be competitive for the Tools Competition because they address a pressing learning goal, have an eye toward continuous improvement, prioritize equity and have the potential to scale.
Writing Dashboard. A team could propose the development of a learning analytics dashboard that allows teachers to track student writing in real time. Via a Google docs plugin, the dashboard would answer questions like: Have students logged in? Are they showing boredom? Have they begun an assignment? Such a project, if effective, could be a win both for teachers trying to work in online and blended settings, and for researchers trying to test and improve strategies to drive more student writing.
Kaggle for Kids. In a world of cancelled assessments, students are struggling to show what they know. A team could propose creating a data science platform that gives students more opportunities to solve real-world problems, develop data science and math skills, and show that they know. Such a platform could serve both the immediate assessment needs, but also serve as a testbed for improvements in challenge-based learning.
Parental Texting Lab. An existing large-scale platform might propose to develop an updatable dataset of texts from parents, both pre-COVID and after. The data would then be made available to the research community to both better understand the needs of parents during COVID-19, and seed an infrastructure for testing what real-world steps drive parental engagement.
Solutions will be reviewed at three funding tiers: catalyst, mid-range, and large awards. Solutions requesting larger awards are expected to have more existing technology and active users. Final award amounts will be at the discretion of the judges and competition organizers.
The awards will be distributed in two installments: first, when the winners are announced, and the second, after the Product Review Day and the showing of satisfactory progress.
Applicants should determine their funding tier based on the following criterion:
If you have questions, please reach out to Toolcompetition@the-learning-agency.com.
For more information, read the Tools Competition FAQs.
For those interested, we recommend you bookmark this page for additional details.