Validation is important to any business and ed tech is no different. In a previous post, we shared the importance of having user validation. It is great to have an ever-lengthening list of teachers and students who are the first to tell anyone how great your product is. This post addresses another kind of validation: independent research.
Research Is Key
According to a Digital Promise report on using research in ed tech, schools and administrators want data that supports the assertion that a product helps students and teachers in a particular way. This information will be a deciding factor for many purchasers, so companies need to back up their claims. The 2015 “Ed Tech Developer’s Guide”was created by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Education Technology. It is full of advice for how to position your company to be able to provide customers with this information.
Providing a Base
Really knowing the educational research behind your product is key. There is no point in creating a tool, investing money, only to find out that research does not support your approach! Prominently display a “Research References” page on your website. We, at Communication APPtitude, are able to claim that our product, InferCabulary is both research-based (every step of the way, our we made sure our decisions were based on a deep understanding of vocabulary instruction research) and it is research backed.
Backing the Claim
This has been one of the exciting parts of our journey. Our vocabulary product InferCabulary already has one white paper that is under review, after a prominent education researcher at University of Virginia conducted a small (but high-quality) study. We can’t tell you the level of interest this generates anytime we pitch. The results were statistically significant, so it propels us into a different level.
How to Find a Researcher
Researchers are busy–very busy! They have their own areas of interest, and at any given time they are working on many projects. If you have something truly innovative, however, they will find the time to work with you. You do have to spend the time finding the right person, or team of people.
There is a hierarchy of professorship, and those who are assistant professors are trying to become associate professors who are trying to become Professors. In our experience, the more established researchers can refer you to those researchers who may be more “hungry.” They will want to do a small study in order to publish with a more prominent researcher in their field. We have formed a relationship with an impressive team of researchers who will be conducting even more, larger-scale research on InferCabulary.
This started with a simple Google search for “vocabulary researcher.” We reached out to one, who connected us with another, and so on. With more independent research, we hope to have large-scale, high-quality, outside validation that what we are selling works–unequivocally.