Tomorrow’s EdTech Today: Establishing a Learning Platform as a Collaborative Research Tool for Sound Science

by Korinn S. Ostrow, Neil T. Heffernan & Joseph Jay Williams — 2017

Background/Context: Large-scale randomized controlled experiments conducted in authentic learning environments are commonly high stakes, carrying extensive costs and requiring lengthy commitments for all-or-nothing results amidst many potential obstacles. Educational technologies harbor an untapped potential to provide researchers with access to extensive and diverse subject pools of students interacting with educational materials in authentic ways. These systems log extensive data on student performance that can be used to identify and leverage best practices in education and guide systemic policy change. Tomorrow’s educational technologies should be built upon rigorous standards set forth by the research revolution budding today.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The present work serves as a call to the community to infuse popular learning platforms with the capacity to support collaborative research at scale.

Research Design: This article defines how educational technologies can be leveraged for use in collaborative research environments by highlighting the research revolution of ASSISTments (, a popular online learning platform with a focus on mathematics education. A framework described as the cycle of perpetual evolution is presented, and research exemplifying progression through this framework is discussed in support of the many benefits that stem from infusing EdTech with collaborative research. Through a recent NSF grant (SI2-SSE&SSI: 1440753), researchers from around the world can leverage ASSISTments’ content and user population by designing and implementing randomized controlled experiments within the ASSISTments TestBed ( Findings from these studies help to define best practices within technology-driven learning, while simultaneously allowing for augmentation of the system’s content, delivery, and infrastructure.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Supplementing educational technologies with environments for sound, collaborative science can result in a broad range of benefits for students, researchers, platforms, and educational practice and policy. This article outlines the successful uptake of research efforts by ASSISTments in hopes of advocating a research revolution for other educational technologies.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 3, 2017, p. 1-36 ID Number: 21779, Date Accessed: 7/18/2018 10:44:35 AM

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