I.E.S. Awards $8.4 Million to Ed-Tech Businesses to Develop, Test Products

Associate Editor

A cohort of 21 ed-tech initiatives will receive a total of $8.4 million in Small Business Innovation Research grants in 2018, the U.S. Department of Education announced this week.

The funds will be used for the development and testing of education technology intended to improve teaching, learning, and school administration.

Six projects will receive about $900,000 each in Phase II funding for two years to fully develop and evaluate commercially viable products that have completed the first round of research and development in Phase I. [See the table below.]

Another 15 projects will receive Phase I funding of up to $200,000 each for eight months to develop and test prototypes of ed-tech products, evaluating their usability and initial feasibility.

By category, the 21 awards follow two trends: the continuing emergence of learning games and the need for data dashboards to help teachers use ed-tech to support instruction, according to a blog post by Ed Metz, manager of the Small Business Innovation Research program at the Institute of Education Sciences.

New areas in SBIR awards this year include teaching computer science, which is the focus of three projects; career and technical education, with a platform for high school students in this area; helping English learners with conversation using an automated tutor, and, in special education, an app for supporting student writing.

Over the past 15 years, the SBIR program has made more than 200 awards for the development of education technology, including apps, games, programs, dashboards, assessments and more. Thousands of schools across the nation are using products developed through this program, the education department indicates.

Phase II Funding Awards

A total of $5.4 million was awarded in Phase II funding. The following six projects will receive up to $900,000 each to fully develop and evaluate an education technology product for students, teachers, or administrators to use in classrooms and schools.

Project Organization  Purpose
Interactive Administrator Dashboard for Improving School-Wide Behavior Supports LiveSchool, Inc. In previous research and development, the team created LiveSchool, a technology for teachers to report student behavior in their class. In this project, the team will fully develop and test ClassCoach, a dashboard for administrators to track student behavior and to recommend resources teachers can use to address student behavioral needs in their classes.
Mission US: Time Snap Electric Funstuff, Inc. This project team will fully develop and test Mission US TimeSnap, a game integrated into a virtual reality headset. This VR environment will provide an immersive exploration and analysis of events in U.S. history.
 A Novel Platform for High-Quality Formative Assessment in Mathematics

Simbulus Inc.


Woot Math

This project team will fully develop and test Woot Math Polls, a formative assessment dashboard that converts student math work into data-driven insights to inform teacher instruction and student learning in middle and high school algebra classrooms.
 CloudLab: Software Development for Hands-On Science Learning Myriad Sensors The project team will fully develop and test CloudLab, a web-based dashboard to present scientific data captured by sensors during experiments.
 Multimodal Bilingual Platform and Formative Evaluation Dashboard for English Language Learners Storyworld International Corp. In prior research and development, the project team developed Storyworld, a web-based activity with mini-games to support English Learners (EL) in language acquisition. In this project, the team will fully develop and test a formative assessment dashboard that provides teachers with insights into EL students’ progress as they use Storyworld.
 Fate and Fortune: A Story-Based Algebra Simulator of High Seas Trade  MidSchoolMath This project team will fully develop and test Fate and Fortune, an online class-wide intervention where grade 8 students learn algebra within a story-based game.

To see an example of a Phase II project, watch this video from CloudLab (details above.) More videos from the other five Phase II grant recipients can be viewed here.

Phase I Awards

The SBIR awarded a total of $3 million in Phase I funding to projects that will allow teams to develop, refine, and test the usability and initial feasibility of prototypes of commercially viable education technology products. The projects and companies that have received this level of funding are:

More information about the awards is available here.

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