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Edtech’s Moment is Now

Highlights from ACTNext’s Latest Summit

ACTNext recently hosted our third annual Education Technology and Computational Psychometrics Symposium (ETCPS), an event drawing more than 200 leading researchers to discuss the transformation of education, learning and measurement.

This year, ETCPS showcased the latest thinking around issues such as measures of efficacy, test security, social and emotional learning (SEL), learning analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), smart speakers, conversational assessments, higher order skills, team dynamics, and the ed-tech ecosystem.

Among the impressive group attending this year’s summit was Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds who joined our event to present the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) analysis of the edtech industry in the state. The report outlines four strategic imperatives to advance ed-tech sector growth in Iowa and create 1,000 jobs over the next five years, leveraging the depth of expertise in education and assessment in Iowa.

Left to right: ACT CEO Marten Roorda, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, and SVP of ACTNext, Alina von Davier discuss the IEDA report.

Setting the tone for the conference was one of our keynote speakers: Betsy Corcoran, the widely respected education journalist and co-founder and CEO of EdSurge, the leading news and resource site on education-technology entrepreneurship.

As she enthusiastically noted: edtech’s moment is now, with the industry expected to have a huge impact on the ways we learn and teach.

“The stakes are high. We believe — I believe — that technology can make a difference, but it has to prove it,” she said.

She challenged the audience to ask themselves, “Who is the person that you are building for?” and “How does your work fit into that context?”

It was a brave thing to say at our conference, and I agree that many projects have the potential to become gamechangers, but it must indeed be demonstrated, because the stakes are high.

At ACT, everything we do is focused on helping people succeed. We invest in the people, companies, and technologies that enable us to develop the learning and measurement tools guiding generations of learners and educators to come.

The future of learning and assessment is personalized. Our goal of meeting 21st century students where they are, by addressing their needs and concerns, reflects our highest ideals and marks our path forward for development and innovation at ACT.

A good example is ACT’s latest test enhancements designed to give students more choices, announced in the days leading up to ETCPS. These changes will help meet today’s students’ needs through a choice of testing on paper or online, with faster results following online testing; the ability to retake specific ACT test sections—a first in ACT’s 60-year history; and calculating a superscore—a more accurate representation of students’ skills and abilities by using the best results across multiple tests. But the September 2020 project is only part of what we’re doing, as we continue to look beyond the horizon. 

The outcomes we’re pursuing for primary, secondary, post-secondary schools and the workforce require technological sophistication, high-level, multimodal analysis, detailed design, pin-point direction and application, and unparalleled understanding of each student’s specific needs.

It’s a big challenge, difficult work, and the stakes are high with no end in sight.

Yet, despite all that, I believe that we’re meeting that challenge with the right people, and with the right motivation, to the great benefit of our society.

Edtech’s moment is now, and we are excited to face the challenges ahead.

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.