The Jefferson Education Accelerator, in partnership with the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, today announced the launch of the Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX), a nonprofit organization committed to bringing educator perspectives to bear on edtech procurement and research. JEX has received $1 million in seed funding from Strada Education Network, along with support from the Curry School Foundation.
The concept for the Exchange grew out of research conducted for the Accelerator's inaugural EdTech Efficacy Research Academic Symposium, which was co-convened with Digital Promise and the University of Virginia. The first-of-its-kind event gathered a diverse cross-section of educators, researchers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers in May 2017.
"Over the past year, we heard loud and clear from educators that most of the research out there today just isn't helpful to them when it comes to edtech decision-making. Implementation matters – and school and district leaders are hungry for practical insights into how and whether products work in a particular setting," said Bart Epstein, who will serve as president of the new organization. "But we also identified this really frustrating collective action problem. No individual district or institution is in a position to make the investments required to collect educator perspectives at scale. The nature of this work is such that it is best addressed by an independent nonprofit, free from interference by providers themselves."
In the coming year, JEX's work will center on research and development to guide the design of research protocols and tools that will enable educators to document and share their experiences with specific edtech products. Educators who participate will receive both a stipend and technical support from JEX, in exchange for careful documentation of their experiences implementing products that have already been selected by their institutions.
"We know that conditions on the ground, far more than research in a controlled environment, have a profound impact on the efficacy of a particular product or approach," said Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry School. "For example, an edtech product may play a role in driving measurable improvements to achievement in one school, but fail to make an impact in another setting. How do we define and describe those differences? Which of those differences plays a meaningful role in explaining why outcomes vary? This effort is about defining and capturing cultural, technical, and other variables with the goal of generating insights that can inform decision-making at the district, institution, and state levels."
The Curry School of Education will support the activity of the new nonprofit, providing both oversight and faculty resources to support the organization's research and outreach. Curry School Dean Robert Pianta will serve as Board Chair for JEX.
"This endeavor is about valuing the shared experiences of educators and bringing them to the forefront of edtech decision-making," said Bill Hansen, CEO of Strada Education Network and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. "Educators bring unique insight into how and why various educational technologies work across schools or institutions in ways that we are only just beginning to understand and define."
Epstein, who currently serves as CEO of the Jefferson Education Accelerator, will transition full-time to the Jefferson Education Exchange in the coming year. In addition to Pianta and Epstein, the new nonprofit's board will include former teacher and North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue; Dr. Bror Saxberg of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; one-time Teacher of the Year (and current executive director of the Nebraska teachers union) Maddie Fennell; former president and chief executive of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, Dr. Sharon P. Robinson; former White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Deputy Associate Director Kathy Stack; CornerStone Partners Managing Director Peter Brooks; UCSF Neuroscientist and MacArthur Scholar Dr. Melina Uncapher; Strada Education Network Chief Strategy Officer Mark Pelesh; Arizona State University MLF Teachers College Executive Director Dr. Edith Gummer; and former Deputy Secretary of Education (and Strada Education Network CEO) Bill Hansen.
JEX will work closely with a network of partner organizations that bring both expertise and constituencies to support educator outreach and engagement efforts, including Alliance for Excellent Education, ASCD, Common Sense Media, CoSN, Digital Promise, EdSurge, Highlander Institute, ISTE, LEAP Innovations, LearnLaunch, LearnPlatform, SETDA, and many others.
"This isn't about reinventing the wheel," explained Katrina Stevens, former Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, who is a Senior Advisor to JEX. "Partnering with a broad base of established organizations that are already doing this sort of work will ensure that our approach is informed by the collective insights and experiences of the field."
"Educators are innovators at heart. They are the ones who distill big ideas down to meaningful pedagogy and engaging experiences for their students. They are increasingly being called on to make the right decisions about which tools – especially edtech – to employ so that every student maximizes her potential," said ISTE CEO Richard Culatta. "These are big and important decisions, and educators can't do it on their own. The Jefferson Education Exchange will provide invaluable tools, resources, and support to gather the information we all need to get smarter about not just what works but where, when, and how."
To learn more about JEX and how to participate, visit: www.jexuva.org.
About Jefferson Education Exchange
Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX) is a nonprofit dedicated to pioneering an entirely new approach to EdTech research by harnessing and sharing educator insights into the contexts where EdTech thrives. JEX works in partnership with a diverse group of educators, academics, and a national network of partners to aggregate meaningful data and promote informed decision-making that can lead to better outcomes for students from Pre-K through college.