Using Prize & Pull Mechanisms to Boost Learning
Originally published June 2014, updated and re-released Summer 2015
Authored by John Bailey, Carri Schneider & Tom Vander Ark
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In partnership with: Digital Learning Now, Foundation for Excellence in Education
This paper is one of nine in the DLN Smart Series – a collection of interactive papers that provides specific guidance regarding the adoption of higher standards and quality assessments focusing on the shift to personal digital learning.
We are just beginning to realize the potential for prizes to mobilize global expertise and accelerate innovation in education. “Using Prizes & Pull Mechanisms to Boost Learning,” released by Digital Learning Now (DLN), a national initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), and Getting Smart, highlights the potential of boosting learning through incentives such as prizes. Authors discuss how targeted incentives for innovation can mobilize talent and resources to improve access and quality. The paper also addresses “pull mechanisms” which can help address problems in an inefficient market. By aggregating demand, for example, a group of districts could incentivize and focus investment in a learning platform creating the opportunity to gain access to better tools and and cheaper pricing. These pull mechanisms could be used to encourage investment and innovation in categories not receiving sufficient attention to ultimately accelerate the development of high-impact learning technologies.
This paper explores three questions related to the potential of how prizes and pull mechanisms can boost learning. These questions include:
- What learning outcomes would be good candidates for the focus of a pull mechanism to catalyze the creation and use of new learning technology? How are these learning outcomes currently measured and assessed?
- What changes in public policy would facilitate experimentation with pull mechanisms at different levels of government?
- What role might different stakeholders (e.g., federal agencies, state and local educational agencies, foundations, researchers, practitioners, companies, investors or non-profit organizations) play in designing, funding and implementing a pull mechanism for learning technology? What role would your organization be willing to play?