Through the merger, announced this month, the two organizations aim to reduce fragmentation in the field to increase the education market’s focus on improving academic outcomes and building more understanding of the importance of research and implementing products successfully.
“We have work to do to bring radical disruption to K-12 education,” said Erin Mote, co-founder and executive director at InnovateEDU, in an interview. “Our two organizations coming together means that we can have exponential impact, and the faster we can get information to districts and educators, the faster we can support them.”
The EdTech Evidence Exchange, founded by the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, is led by CEO Bart Epstein, a research associate professor at the school. The organization focuses on helping educators make better-informed decisions about technology purchasing and implementation through evidence of effectiveness.
InnovateEDU supports a host of projects that address innovation in education and eliminating disparities in educational opportunity. It also runs Project Unicorn, an effort to promote data interoperability, or the seamless integration of ed tech, in schools.
The merger will open new opportunities for InnovateEDU’s work by giving it access to the resources and networks through the University of Virginia, Mote said.
Working together at this critical moment to provide more information to educators, we can disseminate the knowledge that’s gathered much further, and more quickly reach critical mass and collect more data.Erin Mote, co-founder and executive director, InnovateEDU
Combining forces “means we can do so much more in linking research policy and practice,” Mote said, “and integrating new technology development expertise, user-centered design expertise, and really strong networks.”
Conversations about a merger began in early summer when both organizations said they became aware of a growing need to support districts, which were having to make increasingly difficult decisions about the tools they’re adding to their ed-tech ecosystems. Many school districts ramped up usage of ed-tech products during the pandemic, and some have set in motion plans to review those purchases and pare down tools they do not believe have proven effective.
According to data from the EdTech Evidence Exchange, the nation’s public education system spends more than $25 billion a year on ed tech, but most products purchased are used ineffectively or not at all.
At the same time the merger was announced, a philanthropy, the Overdeck Family Foundation, announced a two-year $1 million grant to support the joint efforts of the EdTech Evidence Exchange and InnovateEDU.
“Working together at this critical moment to provide more information to educators, we can disseminate the knowledge that’s gathered much further, and more quickly reach critical mass and collect more data,” Mote said. “It’s about harnessing the power of our shared work.”