Tools Competition

Futures Forum on Learning: Tools Competition

The Futures Forum on Learning: Tools Competition (“Tools Competition”) invites teachers, students, researchers, technologists, and ed tech leaders to propose a tool, technology, platform, or research project that can accelerate recovery from COVID-19-related learning loss for students between grades K-12, and advance the field of learning engineering.

Schmidt Futures is helping to launch the competition up to $1 million in awards. Columbia University and The Learning Agency will organize the competition.


The Need

COVID-19 has sparked a global education crisis, and highlighted the need for continued innovation in how online and blended education can support effective learning.

The Opportunity

Rather than silver bullet solutions, the goal of the Tools Competition is to spur the development and deployment of technologies that can accelerate the recovery from pandemic learning loss and advance the field of learning engineering.

Learning engineering is an emerging discipline at the intersection of learning science and computer science that seeks to design learning systems with the instrumentation, data, and partnerships with the research community, to drive tight feedback loops and continuous improvements in how that learning is delivered in online and blended settings.

The potential solutions in the competition will be evaluated across four core criteria:

  1. their use of learning engineering,
  2. potential for effectiveness,
  3. scalability, and
  4. equity.

For examples of competition solutions, see here.

The Competition

We invite potential solutions from students, teachers, tech leaders, digital learning platforms and researchers from around the globe to participate. The Tools Competition is designed in multiple phases allowing time for ideation, team-building, and project refinement.

To encourage new entrants and established platforms, participants can request an award in one of three tracks ($25,000 and under; $25,000 – $100,000; $100,000 – $250,000) based on the applicant’s existing user base and technical infrastructure. The organizers will award up to $1 million in grants. See more about tracks and award size here.

In addition to the prize funds, winners will have the opportunity to connect with prominent education researchers, edtech leaders, and representatives of large philanthropic organizations to scale their work. They will also have access to a panel of educators to test solutions

Solutions should aim to address one of the problem areas:

  • Increase the number of students who are reading by 3rd grade
  • Increase the number of students on track in middle-school math
  • Expand the number of students gaining data and computer science skills in high school
  • Driving more students into college through academic and nonacademic supports
  • Another pressing learning goal identified by the team that is related to COVID-19.

See more details on how to apply and a detailed timeline here.


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