What defines an exemplary edtech company that serves K-12 needs? How does a district measure return on investment when adopting new curricula? While the edtech market continues to grow with innovative ways to engage students, not many companies provide products rooted in three decades of cognitive research that continue to provide solid returns on investment.
Barry Malkin, CEO of Carnegie Learning, recognizes the need for research to drive edtech product creation, and his company has been leveraging data on the science of learning to ensure the efficacy of its tools. He knows there is a saturated market of curricular options for schools, and he is confident in what Carnegie delivers: personalized, student-centered instruction for grades K-12. Recently, EdSurge spoke with Malkin about his company’s expansion into curricular areas beyond math, including literacy and world languages, and how research is the foundation of all its products and services.
EdSurge: A lot of companies talk about research and data, but your company takes that to another level. How does cognitive science inform your products and processes?
Malkin: Carnegie Learning originated at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the most respected research universities in the country, known for its work in education and cognitive science. So research, data and learning science have always been at the core of what we do. We continue to invest in research and expand our team. We actively incorporate cognitive science and our research into the products we’re building. Cognitive science and research inform every product decision we make and ultimately influence the academic outcomes we achieve. We are a very results-driven company, and you can only expect to achieve success, as measured in educational outcomes, if the inputs are truly based on what science tells us works. There is no other company in the education industry that has been as open with their data and devoted to research like we have. I am very proud of that fact. It says we are doing this for the right reasons.
We’ve been the recipient of many competitive grants that have helped shape the continuous improvement process built into our product development efforts. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the content we deliver. For example, you might say that math hasn’t changed much over the years, but how you teach math and the ability to improve math outcomes can be influenced, and it is something that we’re investing a lot of time and effort in. We’re looking at bias in adaptive learning and artificial intelligence technologies. We’re looking at how reading affects mathematics outcomes. We have even developed an open-source A/B testing platform that allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of content changes we make in our software. All of these efforts are part of our continuous improvement process.
We have a particular approach to how we teach math, literacy and even languages that is based on what the research says is most effective. We like to say that while others teach what, we teach why. This concept really does underpin all of our pedagogy. Why am I doing this? How does it relate to the real world? Why is this the answer? That’s how students get to the why and move way beyond the what.