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Dean Pianta Speaks at Edtech Efficacy Symposium



Dean Bob Pianta speaks on the real impact of education technologies at Edtech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium.

The Hard Truths and False Starts About Edtech Efficacy Research

“At best, we’re throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping that it sticks. Except that we don’t even know what it means to stick.”

That is how Dr. Robert Pianta, Dean of University of Virginia’s (UVA) Curry School of Education, described the current state of efficacy research in education technology, kicking off two days of discussion, debate and collaboration on the topic. The occasion was the Edtech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium, a gathering of nearly 300 researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, investors and edtech bigwigs, held in Washington, DC on May 3-4, a partnership between Curry, the Jefferson Education Accelerator (JEA) and Digital Promise.

The event provided a call to arms for those who believe that the efficacy of an edtech product should be the basis for educators’ purchasing decisions. Bart Epstein, Founding CEO of JEA, opened proceedings with a rally cry, stating that the work done at the conference would help “ensure that the billions of dollars spent on education technology are spent on what works, not based on marketing perception.” Keynote speaker Jim Shelton, President of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, put it more succinctly: “What works ought to drive what we put in front of our children.”

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