May 17, 2023

Creating Products with Purpose: Traits of Effective Learning Companies

GoGuardian Team
Headshots of Advait Shinde, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, GoGuardian; Mariana Aguilar, Vice President, Education, GoGuardian; and Dwight Jones, former superintendent for Las Vegas schools and now Senior Advisor, Whiteboard Advisors

What does it take for a learning company to meaningfully improve experiences for students, teachers, and other education stakeholders? At the 2023 ASU + GSV Summit, panelists Advait Shinde, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, GoGuardian; Mariana Aguilar, Vice President, Education, GoGuardian; and Dwight Jones, former superintendent for Las Vegas schools and now Senior Advisor, Whiteboard Advisors, provided insight into what edtech companies must incorporate in their products to truly impact the lives of teachers and learners.

Rooted in learning science, built with educator input

The development of Giant Steps, a gamified digital learning experience designed for student collaboration and independent practice, demonstrates how GoGuardian harnesses educator insight and learning science. The offering was developed with input from over 100 educators and 5,000 students from across 30+ states with more than 60% representing Title 1 schools.

A vital part of GoGuardian’s commitment to ensuring it serves every student, every day is seen in the in-depth investigations conducted by its learning science team during the planning stage of new feature launches.

Aguliar gave an example of how this process was applied for their feedback feature in Giant Steps: “We considered what existing research said about providing feedback in a way that cultivates a growth mindset and improves learning outcomes. We combed through literature, synthesized our findings, and facilitated interactive workshops with our product development team to ideate on how we might apply the findings into its design.”

GoGuardian also has a dedicated efficacy research team that continuously evaluates the impact of products on student outcomes. Additionally, this team partners with world -class universities to conduct foundational research on the factors that impact student engagement and learning outcomes. As Jones stated about the importance of research, “It’s the research component that’s going to yield student outcomes as well as save educators time. This is the biggest concern when it comes to selecting edtech.”

For Giant Steps, the efficacy research team conducted DEI Advisory Sessions with recognized experts from the University of Southern California. In addition, the team gathered regular input throughout the product development process from educational experts within the ASU Center EDGE (formerly USC Center EDGE) and LMU iDEAL Institute.

“Just like great school districts, when they learn what works, they don’t hide it. They share it. True learning companies don’t just build learning products, they themselves listen and learn from research and the expertise of others,” Jones asserted.

Cultivate a research-based view of the educators’ world 

When it comes to the tools they create, it is imperative learning companies understand and continually assess what will help educators teach more effectively.

“You must have data on what students are missing, when they are missing it, and how you’re going to try and address that,” Jones explained. “Some people expect teachers to just find a way to do it and don’t give them the tools they need to accomplish this. If you can find the right edtech partners to help you do that, you are better equipped to support educators and students.”

Aguilar echoed this sentiment, underscoring why it’s important to keep a pulse on what’s happening in classrooms around the country. “Things are changing all the time,” she elaborated,“especially since the pandemic.”

The commitment to understand the current education climate and teacher needs led GoGuardian to team up with the USC Rossier School of Education and Center EDGE to deliver the State of Engagement Report — an in-depth look at the factors influencing student engagement in K-12 classrooms. Based on a survey of more than 1,400 teachers, the report looks at which instructional strategies are used most often to support student engagement, how these correlate with perceptions of student engagement, and what factors affect the use of these instructional strategies. 

This resource not only helps educators and administrators better understand how to support student engagement, but also enhances GoGuardian’s understanding of the educator and student experience and how to build learning solutions that deliver positive outcomes.

Aguilar’s words rang true for how every learning company needs to approach products and their market: “At the end of the day, a learning company is a company that learns from experts, existing research, and the lived experience of students and educators and uses these learnings to inform the development of its products.”

Shinde summarized GoGuardian’s commitment to being research-led. Since its founding nine years ago, the company has always been driven by a desire to safely unlock the potential of the internet for learners by building products informed by existing educational research and conducting its own. “To be able to leverage vast amounts of critical thinking and effort and to work off those ideas and implement them gives us a tremendous head start,” he said.