Tools and technologies that would be eligible for the competition could include an app or platform, software, algorithm, or other similar educational technology.
We are interested in tools and technologies that enhance learning or improve the education system, collect and generate data that supports learning science research and continuous product improvement, and can be scaled. This is core to the learning engineering objectives of the competition.
For the purposes of this competition, proposals that focus solely on hardware, curricular resources such as lesson plans or video guides, community platforms, or in-person programming are rarely competitive as they struggle to either support learning engineering principles or scale without significant continuous investment.
Yes! The Tools Competition is eager to hear from participants from across the globe. Participants must be able to accept funds from US based entities.
Individuals and entities residing in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, and Syria are not eligible to participate in the competition.
Yes! We are eager to hear and support individuals who are new to the field. We encourage you to compete in the Catalyst award level to be more competitive. Please see more information below on award levels and take the eligibility quiz for more guidance.
The Tools Competition seeks to spur new tools and technology. This means that something about the proposal needs to be fresh, innovative, or original. This does not mean you have to create a new tool or new platform.
Proposals seeking a Growth Phase or Transform Phase award must build off an existing platform of varying levels of development and scale. This might be an API that will improve the platform or a new tool to improve effectiveness. Or it could mean adding infrastructure that allows external researchers to access your data.
See more about award levels and eligibility requirements here.
The competition has four ‘tracks’ or priority areas that reflect the pressing needs and opportunities in education. Competitors will be required to select one of the tracks in which their submission will be primarily evaluated. Competitors can also select a secondary track.
The competition tracks include:
Each track has somewhat different requirements and eligibility criteria and certain tracks may be more or less competitive than others depending on final funding allocation and the number of competitors in each track. Tracks may also have different total prize purses, depending on sponsor priorities.
See more on each track here.
The Phase I submission form will ask you to select a primary track and a secondary track. Your primary track should be the track that is the best match.
If competition organizers invite you to Phase II, they will carefully review the proposal to confirm your track or recommend a new one.
Consider the following recommendations:
Check out this video series for a more detailed introduction to learning engineering. Or get an in-depth look at how one platform, ASSISTments, has instrumented for research, in this Ask Me Anything event with Neil Heffernan.
You can also join the Learning Engineering Google Group for news, upcoming events, and funding opportunities.
For further reading to learn more about learning engineering, see these articles:
Growth or Transform Phase competitors in the Learning Science Research track are eligible to receive a supplemental award of $100,000 for district partnerships, if the district has at least 10,000 students of which the majority come from historically marginalized populations. See more below.
Complete the eligibility quiz to determine which award level best fits your proposal.
Growth or Transform Phase competitors in the Learning Science Research track are eligible to receive a supplemental award of $100,000 for partnerships with a district or consortium of districts with at least 10,000 students of which the majority come from historically marginalized populations. The partnership must include:
If you are entering the competition as a district or consortium of districts, you are also eligible to compete, as long as you are partnered with a researcher.
Refer to the Official Rules for full eligibility requirements.
Note: Budgets are required from Phase II of the competition only. Proposals will be evaluated based on whether they are clear, concise, actionable, and attainable, with budgets that are aligned and realistic with what’s being proposed. Judges will evaluate how you will maximize your impact.
Indirect costs must not exceed 10 percent of the total budget. Other than that, there are no specific requirements on what costs are allowed or not allowed (within reason, of course).
For this track, we are looking for tools that both capture traditionally unmeasured elements of learning and development and improve the quality of assessments to better meet the needs of educators, students and families while reducing the time to develop, administer, or interpret them. All forms of assessment – diagnostic, formative, summative, direct-to-family – are eligible.
This year’s competition is especially focused on new ideas that focus on one or multiple of the following areas:
For examples of other promising innovations in assessment, review last year’s Assessment Track winners.
For this track, we are looking for tools that cultivate or support prospective, developing, and established teachers to improve their practice and maximize learning for all. Tools that support teacher retention, satisfaction, and effectiveness across schools are encouraged.
Just as technology has the potential to personalize and improve learning for Pre-K to secondary students, the same is true for adults. Schools of education, school districts, and other teacher development entities can leverage tools to prepare educators for the classroom as well as offer data and feedback to inform educators’ instructional decisions or improve practice.
As an example, consider Teaching Lab Plus, a 2020 Tools Competition winner, that will collect effectiveness data on professional learning programs in order to improve current programs. Or, a simulation that allows teacher candidates to practice how they would respond to difficult moments in a classroom and receive real-time feedback.
For this track, we are looking for tools that accelerate the learning science research process in order to improve learning interventions. Tools may facilitate A/B testing and randomized controlled trials, improve research design, promote replication, or release knowledge and data for external research. This year, there is a competitive priority for proposals that directly address or could be applied to math instruction.
Please review last year’s winners for examples of competitive proposals in the Learning Science Research track.
The competition is eager to promote tools that are developed in consultation with practitioners. As a result, this year, Growth or Transform Phase competitors in the Learning Science Research track are eligible to receive a supplemental award of $100,000 if they partner with a district or consortium of districts with at least 10,000 students of which the majority come from historically marginalized populations. The district partners would co-design research questions, implement the tool with at least 3,000 students, and incorporate the research findings into district instruction or policy.
For this track, we’re looking for tools that accelerate outcomes in literacy and math and increase relevance of instruction to prepare students for college and careers. Tools should have an equity focus, addressing the declines in academic progress across different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic groups, geographies and disability statuses. The competition also aims to support making knowledge and skills more relevant.
Please review last year’s winners for examples of competitive proposals in the K-12 Accelerated Learning track.
The Tools Competition has a three-phase selection process in order to give competitors time and feedback to strengthen their tool and build a team. Proposals will be reviewed at each phase and selected submissions will be invited to submit to the next round. Please note that budgets are required from Phase II of the competition only.
For more information refer to our How to Compete page.
Proposals will be evaluated against others within the same track. Proposals at higher award levels will be subject to greater scrutiny. At each stage of the competition, reviewers will evaluate proposals based on eligibility requirements for the award level as well as:
For more information on eligibility criteria, refer to the Official Rules.
Yes! Interested competitors are welcome to reach out to ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com with questions or feedback.
Additional avenues for support, including 1:1 feedback calls and office hours, will be emailed out to our email list, so please make sure to sign up for updates here.
We also recommend joining the Learning Engineering Google Group. Opportunities for partnership and additional support are also frequently posted there.
If you need help identifying a researcher, please reach out to Toolscompetition@the-learning-agency.com. We have a large and growing network of researchers who can assist platforms with:
We can facilitate connections to researchers through individual requests or broader networking listservs and events.
Competitors seeking a Growth Phase or Transform Phase Award must have commitment from one or more external researchers that they are interested in using the data from their platform by the time they submit their detailed proposal for Phase II, which is due February 24th, 2023.
This does not need to be a formal agreement, and the researcher does not need to have already secured funding. Instead, we want to see that you have started forming partnerships with external researchers to share your data and consider how that will require you to adapt your tool.
Most importantly, the tool must be designed so that multiple researchers can access data from the platform over time. Given this, we assume that if the researcher you are working with falls through for a reason, you will be able to establish another partnership quickly.
Winners will receive their award by check or bank transfer in two installments.
Winners will receive the first installment soon after winning. Winners will receive the second installment of the award after Product Review Day if they are making sufficient progress on the plan they outlined in their Phase 2 proposal.
Winners will present during a virtual Product Review Day to their peers and others in the field to get feedback and perspective on their progress.
Approximately one year after winners are notified, winners will convene again to present their progress in a Demo Day.
Yes! We strive to support all competitors, not just winners. At each phase, the organizers will compile lists of opportunities for additional funding, support, mentorship, and partnership.
We also encourage your team, if not selected, to stay in touch with the organizers through ToolsCompetition@the-learning-agency.com and the Learning Engineering Google Group.
Competition organizers are eager to support winners and learn from their work to inform future resources for competitors and winners. To do so, all winners will participate in an impact study during which research advisors will work with you to incorporate new measures into your internal evaluation process. In addition, all winners will complete two surveys each year for 3-5 years after winning. That will include completing two surveys annually.