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Digital learning and technology program

Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning and improving achievement for students who have been historically underserved. Yet many inequities persist in students’ access to and use of technology for learning. Integrating technology into instruction can ensure high-quality digital learning opportunities for all students.

SRI Education investigates ways to accelerate and expand the adoption of effective learning technologies. We also explore how technology can enable new forms of research, transcend data silos and reduce the burden on educators for participating in education research. Our mission is to help educators identify and apply new, equitable approaches to digital learning that increase accessibility, teaching effectiveness and student outcomes. 

Teacher with kids on computers

About the digital learning and technology program

Students need the right knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century. SRI Education sees technology as a valuable tool for improving teaching and learning. But it is essential to consider how technology is designed and implemented to meet the needs of all students. Digital learning means more than technology itself—it also relates to how effectively the technology is used in the classroom. 

SRI Education works with teachers, leaders and faculty from early childhood to higher education to design and use technology to help students learn complex concepts and skills, such as algebra, critical thinking and data literacy. We also study collaborative and assistive technologies, open educational resources, online courses, micro-credentials and adaptive learning systems that provide real-time feedback to guide teaching and learning. And we examine the impact of different approaches to implementing educational technology, such as 1:1 programs and course redesigns, on students’ learning experiences and outcomes. 

SRI Education finds exciting opportunities to innovate. For example, we are exploring how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, speech recognition, virtual and augmented reality, computer vision and robotics can enhance learning and make education research more efficient and cost effective. Some of these technologies emerge from SRI’s own laboratories.

Recent work

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  • Assisting Parents to Review Online Videos for Education (APPROVE)

    Assisting Parents to Review Online Videos for Education (APPROVE)

    Researchers at SRI International developed an AI-powered YouTube filter that finds educational videos for kindergarten and prekindergarten children, including math videos and reading videos.

  • ASSISTments Efficacy & Replication Studies

    ASSISTments Efficacy & Replication Studies

    SRI conducted an efficacy study of more than 2,500 students on the benefits of online homework support for students’ mathematics learning Homework is important, but traditional ways of doing homework in isolation do not support students who need more help. Technology has the potential to change homework into a better learning experience. Students can receive…

  • Evaluation of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative

    Evaluation of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative

    The six-year independent research study conducted by SRI International across 101 schools aimed to combine rigorous measurement of ConnectED’s outcomes and accomplishments with an in-depth look at what it has meant for participating teachers, students, principals and parents.

Evaluating digital learning programs

To increase equitable access to high-quality digital learning, educators need to know what programs work, whom those programs benefit and under what conditions the programs are most effective. 

SRI Education conducts large-scale, multisite evaluations to provide usable information on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of digital learning programs. Our researchers combine rigorous quantitative designs, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experiments, with qualitative data collection and analysis to probe the results of digital learning programs or provide formative feedback to improve program design and implementation. We also conduct research to help clients build Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) evidence for their programs or products. 

Implementing scaling, and sustaining digital learning

Informed selection and implementation of educational technologies is critical because their effectiveness depends on how well they fit with context, users and learning goals. Leaders need to understand the organizational and systemic factors that aid or impede the successful rollout and scale-up of digital learning programs. 

SRI Education builds capacity in the field through technical assistance to support implementation and evaluation of digital learning programs. Our experts produce guides, tools and professional learning opportunities for educators seeking to adopt, expand or sustain digital learning. We also support edtech developers to maximize their return on investment through data-informed designs and product testing. 

Advancing equity through digital access and use

Classrooms today are diverse in racial and ethnic identities, abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. Yet systemic racism and inequities persist in our education system, magnified by the pandemic and shift to remote learning. Educators, policymakers and edtech developers need to understand and apply high-quality, culturally inclusive and accessible digital learning to support diverse students. 

SRI Education explores ways to use technology to make learning accessible and relevant to all students’ individual learning approaches, cultural knowledge, and backgrounds. For example, we collaborate with other SRI divisions (computer vision, artificial intelligence, speech and natural language and robotics) to consider how we might apply our innovative technologies to enhance diagnosis and improve learning outcomes for students with disabilities. We also work with industry leaders to codesign and implement software and tools that support inclusion and positive outcomes for all students. 

Using technology to measure and optimize teaching and learning

More data on learning means educators need more time to review and understand how to use those data. Educators can benefit from automated processes that measure learning more frequently and produce streamlined and useable results, without taking away valuable instructional time. 

Through learning analytics, SRI Education analyzes and translates large amounts of data to help educators easily understand how students learn and optimize learning experiences. We explore ways to automate data collection and analysis so that the process is more accurate, less burdensome, less expensive and more useful for improvement. 

Designing learning technologies and assessments

Educators need new technologies that meaningfully engage students in learning challenging concepts and developing important skills. Also, educators can improve instruction and tailor supports by using technology-based formative assessments of students’ learning. 

SRI Education uses the science of learning to design dynamic technologies that support digital learning, especially for multilingual learners and students with low literacy skills. And we are a leader in applying evidence-centered design and validating innovative assessments that measure complex processes and proficiencies, such as computational thinking and collaboration. 

Our experts

Associated publications