Deliberate Development in Ed Tech

Research and development (R & D) in education is one of the most durable ways for determining the instruction and intervention methods that are used in school districts across the country. Supported largely by governmental agencies and national foundations, U.S. based R & D is one of the primary forces that establishes what is taught and how teaching occurs in today’s classrooms. Research and development for America’s increasingly diverse schools has largely been done by white organizations, universities, researchers, and developers. In an early 2019 visual analysis of the Institute of Educational Sciences’ (IES) funding of 26 national research and development centers from 2004, none of the primary investigators of these centers seem to be racially diverse, and of the 272 key personnel, only 15 were non-white.

In an examination of the almost $221 million that has been disbursed to these centers, only three centers, or $40.6 million mention direct impact for systemically marginalized populations or contexts.

In a similar investigation, Joseph, Marshall, & Harmon (under review) found that “in fiscal year 2017, the NSF’s budget request to Congress for programs aiming to broaden participation was $592.53 million and not one research project funded focused on Black women and girls (BWGs) in STEM” (as reported in the 2017–2018 Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering [CEOSE] report to Congress).

In an examination of talent diversity at ed tech companies, a similar pattern emerges. Carli Etherington at eLearning Inside found that companies were unable to share racial diversity data, some only publicly posted gender diversity data, and others simply did not respond to the request for diversity data. In order to transform the way advanced R & D is done, the equityXinnovation Lab (located at Duquesne University) created Emancipatory R & D (ERD). ERD is a liberatory process of creating educational technology that advances students, educators, and the larger community to be empowered intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically. Emancipatory R & D (ERD) includes three components: (1) an ecosystemic design process, (2) a taxonomy for deliberate development, and (3) a power index.

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