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Gates Ed-Tech Winners Announced

Next Generation Learning Challenges, an education technology grant competition funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the 19 entrants who won grants through the project's second wave of funding—and first focused exclusively on K-12 causes—including several "proof of concept" proposals.

The winners—who were asked to submit proposals that used technology to address teaching 7th and 9th grade Common Core State Standards material—are an assortment of mostly universities and private companies. The Louisiana Department of Education and its virtual school algebra program represent the only public K-12 education winner that will receive grant money from the Gates Foundation, which for this wave will amount to about $7 million distributed across the 19 winners. (The Gates Foundation also contributes funding to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week).

Despite contest stipulations that entrants demonstrate both a strong history of results and a compelling path to expand their work, the foundation selected several projects labeled as "proof of concept" endeavors, meaning they were meant to demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular approach.

Proof of concept winners included Classroom Inc., for the refinement of its Sports Network career simulation module aimed at common standards for informational text; DaVinci Minds Inc., for the expansion and assessment of its WhyCareers virtual world activities; Hofstra University for its WISEngineering technology-based curriculum that blends engineering principles with common standards-based math instruction; and Texas Tech University for its adaptation of its online APS4Math tutorial to be incorporated in middle and high school classrooms.

Other projects receiving grants include: the iCivics online civics education platform founded and led by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; SMALLab Learning Inc.'s embodied interactive whiteboard project that uses motion-tracking technology to help students learn science through physical movement; and Scholar Rocket Inc.'s The LearningMatch, an adaptive collection of short video lessons and accompanying assessments that relies on data from the assessments to target lessons to students.

The first wave of Next Generation Learning Challenges projects were geared toward postsecondary education. Further waves of the program would appear likely, with the possibility of driving the total funding devoted to the project to $60-80 million.

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