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ACTNext ETCPS 2018

The following blog post is reprinted with permission from the ACT Center for Equity in Learning, and authored by ACTNext's Andrew Cantine.

From October 3‒4, ACTNext convened its annual Education Technology and Computational Psychometrics Symposium (ETCPS) in Iowa City, a recognized hub for innovative psychometric research.

The goal of the conference is to bring together technologists and researchers to highlight recent advancements in psychometrics and education technology.

However, while celebrating progress is important, it’s equally essential to recognize the gap between those moving forward and those being left behind.

The strength of our society is directly proportional to the quality and degree of equity in the distribution of social justice—for example, parity and access regarding education—amongst our most advantaged and most vulnerable members. Therefore, innovators in education technology must consciously strive for their innovations to knock down the barriers to equity and access that prevent the underserved from obtaining college and career success.

Each speaker touched on that fact that their research and the technologies they develop directly relate to societal advancement; not just for those who already have a seat at the table, but to promote equity and inclusivity specifically for those who do not.

“The reason ACT innovates is to increase equity, and we are proud to lead the way by advancing the kind of game-changing research we saw at ETCPS,” said ACT CEO Marten Roorda. “The conference demonstrates that we are rapidly reaching new frontiers in educational technology and computational psychometrics to that end.”

The rate of advancement noted above by Roorda is what makes ETCPS such a crucial event. If we are to be successful in our efforts to shrink the digital divide, we must actively focus our recognition of innovation, technological or otherwise, through the lens of the groups those advancements will leave behind if we are not vigilant.

Symposium attendee Jim Larimore, chief officer for ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, put it succinctly,

“Closing gaps in opportunity and achievement requires that we leverage the promise of technology and education in service of equity, designing for those who are typically last in line as technology advances. What I saw at ACTNext’s ETCPS was a room full of innovators and thought leaders who are deeply committed to equity, and who are drawing on their own personal insights and experiences, and an informed sense of empathy and purpose, to ensure that all talent has an opportunity to rise.”

“All too often,” noted ACTNext Senior Director Ada Woo, “in the edtech community we trend toward creating the sorts of things we ourselves would like to see and risk losing sight of the fact that we are not a representative sample of every user’s needs. An event like ETCPS gives us the chance to see new research and technologies, and make sure we’re taking everyone’s needs into account. It gives us the opportunity to focus on making transformational technologies transformational for everyone.”

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalized insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career.