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The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has partnered with Lea(R)n to harness the expertise of North Carolina’s 98,000 teachers to make decisions about what technologies work well in the classroom. Following a fall 2014 pilot of the education innovation and efficacy firm’s platform, LearnTrials.com, NCDPI is now using this time-efficient, cost-effective way to inform instructional decisions, product evaluation, and professional development across the state.

Lea(R)n’s online platform gives teachers an easy, research-backed way to provide feedback on learning tools that work well for their students. This partnership provides NCDPI the opportunity to combine North Carolina educators’ insights with multiple data sources to make informed decisions about which technology to try or buy. This is especially important as more North Carolina schools incorporate digital learning in classrooms.

LearnTrials was piloted with members of the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Network in 2014. Teachers reported that it provided an efficient and effective way to evaluate learning tools, and NCDPI was able to gather thousands of insights on products, run evaluations in 7 percent of the time previously required, and quantify the new knowledge to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.

“Our teachers are the most important asset we have in helping our students succeed in North Carolina, so getting them the technologies they need and that work well in classrooms is critical. The LeaRn platform gives us an easy way to get real feedback from educators so we can better determine what learning tools are effective in a timely, cost-efficient manner,” said North Carolina State Superintendent June Atkinson.

Any educator in North Carolina now can share feedback, access best practices and expand their professional learning community at no cost to them. Those insights will be accessible to others and will join those from thousands of educators from around the country who are now using LearnTrials. And, starting next school year, teachers will be able to earn a professional certification for their involvement with the research-backed platform. Local education agencies also receive discounts if they wish to access Lea(R)n services for their local needs.

“The question educators ask isn’t ‘which product is best,’ but rather, ‘which product is best for my students (or my school or my needs) right now?’” said Karl Rectanus, the former teacher and administrator who co-founded Lea(R)n. “Our practical, data-driven approach answers these questions with and for educators in way that no star-ratings or online search ever will. We are excited to partner with North Carolina, or any state or district empowering educators and decision makers to improve how they help their students learn.”

Lea(R)n is already working with public and private schools, districts and networks across the country to improve efficiency and decisions, including the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Harrington Park, N.J., and FirstLine Charter Schools in New Orleans. The company was named the North Carolina Technology Association’s 2014 Company of the Year in Education after participating in the Kaplan Techstars accelerator in NYC, and has been honored by SXSWedu, AT&T Aspire Accelerator and the NC IDEA program for its innovations.