As academics and entrepreneurs, our LoomVue team places a high value on evidence-based research. Creating a language learning product that sells is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for success. We also require that it is an effective way to learn a language as measured by independent and objective evaluators. Fortunately, this goal is shared by educational organizations who have dedicated funds to invest in innovative and evidence-based approaches to learning, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES). Today, we are thrilled to announce that we received a competitively awarded Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (IBIR) grant for $200,000!
Many people know that the U.S. federal government helps fund academic research in a variety of domains through NIH (health), NSF (science), DOD (military), NASA (space), DOE (energy), IES (education), etc. Fewer people know that a portion of all research funds for these agencies are set aside for small businesses through the SBIR program. Funding small businesses promotes the translation of cutting-edge research into innovative technologies that can keep our U.S. private sector thriving. It also allows the government to invest in products and services that meet compelling societal needs such as education.
So, what will we do with the money? We will use it to develop a fully working prototype of the LoomVue browser focused on supporting English Language Learners (ELLs) in middle schools and high schools. Specifically, we will focus on helping the rapidly growing number of native Spanish speaking students who are learning English (the topic of a future post). We will add support for teachers, classes, and students through two modes: (1) an active learning mode where students learn “academic vocabulary” words chosen by their teachers, and (2) a scaffolded reading mode that helps support ELLs reading difficult English texts for content-area classes such as Science or History.
This grant allows us to partner with some amazing collaborators. We’re thrilled to be working with Ben McMurry, PhD as an ESL consultant who has over 15 years of working with English Language Learners. We are also excited to work with WestEd who will perform our feasibility, usability, and initial evaluation work to measure the impact of the LoomVue browser extension on students learning.