This is going to be a short post, in part because I’m traveling, but I need to call your attention to a developing story, both because it’s huge in its own right and for its importance to the Empirical Educator Project (which, by the way, has a new website).
Carnegie Mellon has announced a $100 million contribution in tools, software, and content that “that is intended to catalyze a new era of progress in educational effectiveness that is equal to the challenge of rapid change and growth in 21st century educational needs. The suite of tools is the product of over $100 million of research and development from a wide variety of funders.”
The suite of tools will be released in stages over the next year and represents a major departure from the "silver bullet" or "moon shot" efforts to revolutionize education with technology in recent years. Instead, the contribution is intended to democratize the science of learning and empower educators across the world to become citizen scientists. Carnegie Mellon's goal is to provide knowledge of how to conduct applied educational research that classroom educators, researchers and educational technology companies can learn, apply, extend and share with the global educational community.
"We live in a moment when our educational institutions are in danger of a catastrophic failure that we cannot afford. College and university closures are becoming regular occurrences, even as tuition and student debt rise to record levels," said Norman Bier, executive director of the Simon Initiative.
"This is happening at the same time that even highly educated people need to continue learning in order to keep their skills up-to-date, and when people all over the globe need increasing access to high quality educational opportunities through technology. In the face of these institutional and structural challenges, demonstrably improving outcomes and learning for students must be our foremost concern," Bier said.
I have lots of good things to say about this approach, but for a preview, you can go back and review my post about ed tech hype being in remission. This announcement is a little hard to parse because it’s just a down payment on a complex story, and because it’s a big price tag thing from a big engineering school, but trust me: this is not the same old thing.
The full list of what is being released has yet to be announced, but I’ve seen it, and it is mind-blowing. The breadth and depth are pretty astonishing. In fact, one of Carnegie Mellon’s biggest challenges will be explaining all of what’s in it. This isn’t a tool or a platform. It’s a collection that’s in the process of being knitted together into an ecosystem. And the way that people inhabit that ecosystem is what will really matter.
There will be a lot more to say on that in the near future. The university is going to be revealing a lot of the details of their contribution at our second annual Empirical Educator Project summit, which they are graciously hosting on May 6th and 7th. We will have some announcements between now and then, likely a flurry of announcements (from us and from other parties) around the time of the summit itself, and will be releasing video of many of the talks after the summit afterward. There are also some reporters working this story, so I will keep running updates of those stories as they come out over at the new Empirical Educator Project site and periodically collect them in my updates here as well.
Watch this space.