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Candice Dodson
Executive Director
202-715-6636 x700
[email protected]


SETDA Joins Ambitious Initiative to “Map the EdTech Genome” 
New coalition led by the Jefferson Education Exchange will create a framework to understand why EdTech works in some contexts but not in others 

October 24, 2019 – SETDA, the principal membership association representing U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders, today announced that it has joined a new, first-of-its-kind initiative to create an evidence-based framework that will help educators make better-informed decisions about what technology to use in their classrooms — and how to implement it most effectively. Coordinated by the nonprofit Jefferson Education Exchange, the EdTech Genome Project will be overseen by a diverse group of educators, association leaders, researchers, and technology experts who represent the most influential voices in the national conversation on education technology.“Our members have always been responsible for identifying key characteristics of tools that will be broadly helpful,” said Candice Dodson, SETDA Executive Director, who will serve on the EdTech Genome Steering Committee. “Now we’re creating a common language, from the state to the classroom, about what constitutes efficacy within the context of individualized schools — and how state EdTech directors can make investments that yield results.”

The EdTech Genome Project is designed to address a critical collective action problem in education technology. Each year, educators and school administrators spend more than $13 billion on more than seven thousand technology tools and products. But because most purchasing decisions are chiefly influenced by word of mouth or internet searches, an estimated 85% of EdTech tools are either a poor fit for a particular school or are not implemented effectively. Yet there is no system through which educators can report the results of their implementations so that others may learn from them. As a result, billions of dollars continue to be wasted on tools and products that do not meaningfully improve student outcomes — despite the best of intentions by all involved.

Backed by philanthropic and social impact organizations including Strada Education Network, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, the project will draw on extensive research and direct outreach with educators to identify up to ten contextual variables associated with EdTech implementation success or failure. Once the stakeholders reach consensus on the list of variables, up to ten national working groups will be formed by bringing together the leading researchers and practitioners with deep experience in each variable. Each working group will then spend a year examining existing evidence and measurement instruments as each group works to reach consensus about how implementation factors such as “teacher agency,” “initiative fatigue,” “quality of professional development,” and other technical and cultural factors can be quantified.

“The way we use — and misuse — education technology has profound costs in not just economic, but equity, terms,” said Bart Epstein, president and CEO of the Jefferson Education Exchange and a research associate professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development. “This effort is about empowering educators and administrators by providing them access to the hard-earned experiences of their peers nationwide. Better understanding of what works where and why will enable them to fulfill the promise of technology to improve outcomes for all students.”

For more about the EdTech Genome Project, click here.


The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), founded in 2001, is the national non-profit association representing the interests of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leadership. SETDA’s mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice.

About Jefferson Education Exchange
The Jefferson Education Exchange is a nonprofit public charity committed to bringing educator perspectives to bear on EdTech procurement and research. Supported by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development, the Jefferson Education Exchange’s work centers on research and development to guide the design of research protocols and tools that will enable educators to document and share their experiences with education technology products. For more information, view our slide deck and visit us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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