Tools that increase the effectiveness and reach of higher education, particularly in support of adult learners. Competitors in this track should propose solutions that increase equitable education, supporting learners in engaging in and successfully completing learning experiences, and/or navigating career pathways.
This track is particularly interested in proposals targeting adult learners* from high-need demographics who have been historically and systemically underserved by current education and workforce systems. We are especially interested in innovative ideas that leverage technology to improve equity and access in higher education. Our emphasis is on tools that complement instruction, support learning and career outcomes and allow adult learners to develop new skills and transition into new careers. This may include, but is not limited to, tools that:
Adult learners face unique circumstances. They may be parents, working full-time, or resuming studies later in life. There are more than 40 million adults in the United States that have attended college, but have not completed a degree. In California alone, 6.8 million adults aged 25-54 have a high school diploma but no higher education. This is paired with continued demographic trends that show adult learners will become an increasingly larger cohort of college students in the years ahead. For these learners—who have historically struggled with low completion rates at colleges and universities—committing to and completing higher education requires a learning experience that provides flexibility and direct pathways to careers. As the share of adult learners in higher education grows, particularly among historically underrepresented populations, there is greater urgency for tools that make higher education more accessible, inclusive, and responsive to their unique needs.
Competitive tools should facilitate continuous data collection on learner persistence, engagement, and progress, and support research insights on factors driving completion of learning experiences and career outcomes. Solutions may help to understand the type of design that can accelerate learner progress, how to increase completion rates and decrease the time to completion, the barriers to learner persistence, or how to identify effective career pathways.
Adult learners* in higher education, particularly from underserved and underrepresented communities. While proposals focused on higher education broadly may also be competitive in this track, a subset of awards will be reserved for tools targeting the specific populations defined as competitive priorities below.
*Adult learners may include, for example, working adults, those who delayed enrolment in higher education after high school, single parents, or those in other circumstances.
Competitors worldwide are invited to submit, but tools must serve or intend to serve learners and institutions in the United States. We welcome proposals from teams or individuals from all backgrounds, including edtech companies, researchers/universities, educators, or students (undergraduate or graduate).
A subset of awards will be reserved for:
Determine whether you are eligible to apply for the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize (optional).
Supplemental funding of $100,000 is available to select winners at the Growth or Transform level that propose a partnership to conduct research with, co-design, user-test, pilot, or validate their product in partnership with Calbright College, sponsor of the Tools Competition.
In Phase I, competitors will indicate if they intend to compete for the Implementation Impact Prize. In Phase II, competitors will detail their partnership plan. To be eligible, tools must support learners in a fully online learning environment and competitors must serve or intend to serve learners in the State of California.
In partnership with OpenAI, the Tools Competition is thrilled to offer the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize to catalyze the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on learning outcomes and drive edtech innovation leveraging advanced computational methods.
OpenAI will select up to three recipients of the OpenAI Learning Impact Prize among competition winners who will receive $100,000 in additional funds, $10,000 in OpenAI API credits, and technical guidance from OpenAI engineers. Select contenders will also receive $2,500 in OpenAI API credits.
Competitors across all tracks that indicate an interest in being considered for this award will complete additional requirements when submitting their proposal materials.
Novelty of the tool
Potential impact and likelihood to improve learning
Attention to equity to support learning of historically marginalized populations
Demand from learners, families, and educators
Ability to support learning engineering
Ability to scale to additional users and/or domains
The Tools Competition funds edtech tools and technologies that support learning outcomes and can contribute to learning science research.
Eligible tools have the potential to generate novel learning data that researchers can study to better understand learning at scale. This may include an app, software, algorithm, or other digital technology that facilitates or supports continuous data collection and has the potential to scale at minimal cost.
Please note that this definition is not exhaustive. As technology continues to develop and innovations are created globally, other tool concepts may also be competitive.