The Difference Between Efficacy and Evidence, and Why It Matters

Educause Review
Whitney Kilgore, PhD and Brian Fleming
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When it comes to edtech, one type of research places too much emphasis on the platform over the learner's experience.

Last May, the University of Virginia's Jefferson Education Accelerator held a first-of-its-kind event. The goal was to pair entrepreneurs with educators, researchers with venture capitalists, and philanthropists with policymakers for a candid conversation about the role of efficacy research in education technology.

The symposium represented the culmination of a yearlong collaboration through a series of working groups that considered a range of topics, including the impact of efficacy research on procurement and the variables that impact real-world outcomes. Participants shared perspectives on the role of efficacy in the development, adoption, and implementation of educational technologies. But as it turned out, the conversation focused on evidence more than efficacy. There's a difference, and it matters.

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