Motion Math Awarded $1M Grant for Edtech Efficacy Platform

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Educational software creator Motion Math today announced a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its efficacy platform, which measures and validates the effectiveness of digital math materials.

“[Motion Math has] an ambitious vision for measuring learning efficacy in an organic way that keeps the focus on teaching and learning and doesn't turn the classroom into a research lab.” - Steven Hodas

Educational software creator Motion Math today announced a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its efficacy platform, which measures and validates the effectiveness of digital math materials.

“The promise of mobile technology is to make learning more personal, effective, and delightful. However, our nascent field is hindered by a lack of actionable efficacy data,” said Motion Math’s CEO Jacob Klein. “We’re grateful for the Foundation’s support as we strive to fill the gap.”

The platform embeds mini-assessments in digital games and activities to power a data-driven feedback system that enables developers to continually improve their product efficacy, and enables teachers to use validated materials in effective ways. “Motion Math is one of the best at engaging students with rigorous apps,” said Steven Hodas, former Executive Director of the NYCDOE's Office of Innovation, whose testbed is a fellow efficacy grantee of the Foundation. “They've got an ambitious vision for measuring learning efficacy in an organic way that keeps the focus on teaching and learning and doesn't turn the classroom into a research lab.”

Defining Learning Efficacy
Rigorous methods of measuring whether digital experiences help students learn, such as randomized controlled trials, are rarely employed by most developers due to legitimate constraints on cost and time. Motion Math’s platform enables cost-effective iterations of measurement, using a situated definition of efficacy that incorporates the instructional practices and context surrounding students as they use learning tools.

In addition to content mastery, the platform also evaluates another critical but often overlooked outcome: student mindset. “When students believe math ability can grow, it's transformative,” said Stanford Professor of Education Jo Boaler, a Motion Math advisor. “This is a promising platform for measuring which activities help improve student mindset.”

Student Effort: The Key Variable
Student effort is not only a goal of many digital learning materials, but essential to the platform, as a lack of effort threatens measurement. If students don't try their best on standard assessments it is difficult to gauge their true mastery, and, in turn, whether materials have helped them improve.

“Our goal is to embrace this challenge by directly addressing a pervasive misunderstanding: assessment shouldn’t be a punitive judgment, but rather a guide for personalized learning. Students shouldn’t be afraid to state that they don’t know the answer to a particular question; in fact it’s a crucial component of a healthy growth mindset,” said Coram Bryant, Motion Math’s Head of Data, who is leading the platform’s development.

The Future of Assessment
The platform aims to be a distributed laboratory, connecting diverse formative assessments with embedded mastery data. As Bryant notes, “We’re excited to work with our school partners and select app developers to transform assessments into actionable data, allowing us to continually improve the design and targeted use of edtech.”

The platform has grown through the support of the Noyce Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Elementary educators and math developers who want to participate in the platform should contact info(at)motionmathgames(dot)com.

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About Motion Math
Motion Math's mission is to help kids find delight in intellectual challenge. We take the central concepts of K-6 math and turn them into engaging games, which yield actionable mastery and efficacy data. Founded by engineers and educators from Stanford School of Education's Learning, Design, Technology program, Motion Math's suite of nine games has received rave reviews from experts and has been downloaded over 3.8 million times. For more information, visit motionmathgames.com.

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Brendan Appold