Our Research - Product Certifications

Our Research

Digital Promise’s product certifications project engages with research in multiple ways.

  • We conduct alpha testing with product teams to improve product certification applications. Our team collects qualitative and quantitative feedback from product teams to ensure a smooth application process.
  • We conduct pilot studies to test the impact of the product certifications as a signal to indicate product quality with education leaders, coaches, and educators. The results of these studies are used to improve and guide current and future product certifications. After each pilot study, Digital Promise will publish a report to share findings with the field.
  • We intend to regularly collect qualitative data from education leaders, educators, and education nonprofit leaders to inform the Product Certification Criteria.

Designing Edtech that Matters for Learning: Research-Based Design Product Certifications

Noakes, Sierra, Richendollar, Tyler, Xiao, Wendy, & Luke, Christina (Digital Promise, 2020)
By developing product certifications aligned to educators’ top priorities, we hope to add transparency and accountability to the edtech industry. Learn how we are working to achieve this vision in our latest report.

Market Signals for Research-Based Innovations

Noakes, Sierra & Luke, Christina (Digital Promise, 2019)
Download the new report on our product certification efforts, Market Signals for Research-Based Innovations, to learn more about Digital Promise’s inaugural product certification.

Designing for Learner Variability: Examining the Impact of Research-based Edtech in the Classroom

Tare, Medha & Shell, Alison R. (Digital Promise, 2019)
Download the new report to learn more about our recent study examining the efficacy of translating research-based educational strategies into a widely-used literacy edtech platform to support learner variability.

Learner Variability Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Pape, Barbara (Digital Promise, 2018)
Each of us go to school with a backpack filled with very different experiences that we draw from to master content, create meaning, work in groups, share our voice, and achieve our potential. This report defines learner variability and explains that understanding and addressing our differences will, in fact, help us be confident learners in school and beyond.

Using Research in Ed-Tech: How ed-tech companies use research to make better products

Simone, Christa & Gross, Kelsey (Digital Promise, 2017)
Check out what Digital Promise, in collaboration with Teachers College, Columbia University, learned after issuing a call for developers to tell us how they use research. Download the report to learn more.

Explore Digital Promise’s Research

Digital Promise contributes to the education and learning sciences field by publishing research, implementation, and evaluation studies. Our reports on topics of interest—including learner variability, maker education, and family engagement—put us in conversation with policymakers and thought leaders on the issues facing education leaders today.

Our Learning


The League of Innovative Schools surfaced challenges around edtech selection and procurement.


Product Certifications 2013






Digital Promise partnered with IDEO to explore ways to further develop the edtech market in K-12 districts, through evolving the edtech procurement processes. This study recommended a need for greater collaboration across vendors/districts, within districts, and across districts. One promising method districts were using to inform their decisions was piloting.


Product Certifications 2014

Digital Promise partnered with Johns Hopkins University to study 9 school districts while they conducted pilots using various edtech tools. We focused on learning about the processes they were using and understanding how to share those best practices with others to increase evidence-based decision-making.


ProductCerts 2015

Digital Promise partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to conduct 3 pilots of learning tools while using feedback loops to iterate and improve on products. Simultaneously, we coordinated 6 pilots of middle school math tools and 3 pilots geared toward summer learning loss. As we conducted more pilots, we refined and documented the ideal pilot process.


ProductCerts 2016

Digital Promise launched the Edtech Pilot Framework to share our synthesized 8-step pilot process, along with over 150 free, open-source tools and resources. Digital Promise and Teachers College at Columbia University led the Research-Based Products Campaign to incentivize the field to use research in product design and development. Digital Promise also published “Using Research in Ed Tech” to offer product teams guidance around research use in R&D.


Product Certs 2017

Digital Promise partnered with 2 districts to pilot 2 edtech products intended to support English Learners. Through this work, Digital Promise learned that few products are designed for marginalized learner populations. Our report shared best practices for edtech design to attend to diverse learner needs as well as pilot findings.


Product Certs 2018

Digital Promise invited educators to join our third professional learning cohort, representing 13 districts piloting 13 unique edtech products and innovative programs. Throughout the 3 PLCs, every participant reported an increased understanding of the edtech pilot process and agreed that evidence is important to decision-making. In addition, we published “Use Research Like A Champion” to share best practices for building districts’ research capacity, particularly around piloting.


Product Certs 2019

Districts continue to share that edtech selection is challenging. Through a listening tour with more than 50 stakeholders, Digital Promise sought diverse perspectives to understand how to ease product discovery and selection for education leaders. We aim to develop a solution that will help consumers identify high-quality edtech tools designed using research that attend to educators’ and learners’ authentic needs.


Product Certs 2020

Introduced the first product certifications with the launch of the Research-Based Design certification in February and the Learner Variability certification in October.

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