XPRIZE, Institute For Education Sciences Create $1m Digital Learning Challenge To Improve Learning Outcomes

Mar 22 2021

Competition will focus on data collection, machine learning, AI methods to measure, optimize learning and collective understanding

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (March 22, 2021) — XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, is launching $1M Digital Learning Challenge to modernize, accelerate, and improve effective learning tools and processes that improve learning outcomes.

Sponsored by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the Digital Learning Challenge will enable experiments of frequency, scope and scale not possible through traditional methods used in education research or commercial edtech processes. These experiments will transform understanding of successful educational processes and result in better experiences and outcomes for all learners.

Every year, almost 80 million students, nearly 25% of the U.S. population, are enrolled in education. But as adoption of edtech has grown, data collection methods and analysis haven’t changed. The needs of students, from early years to higher education, are evolving every day. With the power of digital learning tools, increasing connectivity, acceleration in big data, machine learning, and AI methods, technology provides an opportunity to measure, improve learning and our understanding of how learning takes place. While many learning platforms already collect data and conduct substantive analyses, practices to collect data with the intention of understanding learning rather than for technical debugging are not widespread. Incentivizing the development, demonstration, and deployment of an infrastructure for conducting experiments in learning contexts has the potential to improve our understanding of what works in education, while saving time and improving learning outcomes for millions of students.

The winning team of the Digital Learning Challenge will build infrastructure to conduct rapid, reproducible experiments and demonstrate the resilience and rigor of this infrastructure in a formal learning context. 

The winning team must demonstrate the ability to:

  • Conduct an RCT or QED using any meaningful and substantive educational intervention
  • Systematically replicate the experiment at least five times in no more than 30 days 
  • Replicate the experiment within at least three distinct demographics

The 25-month competition is broken into 4 phases for competing teams: 

  • Registration and proposal submission
  • Solution development
  • Piloting 
  • Experimentation and replication with judging between the stages and at the conclusion of the competition

“By harnessing the energy and creativity of developers, engineers, data scientists, and education researchers, this competition will dramatically improve data collection and analysis of learning outcomes, which will create a new era in education,” said Chanda Gonzales - Mowrer, Chief Prize Operations Officer at XPRIZE. 

“The  Digital Learning Challenge will create scalable digital data collection and analysis tools that will gather reliable, robust and actionable learning data at unprecedented rates, at the highest level of quality, and faster than traditional methods used today,” said Mark Schneider, Director of IES. 

To sign up, and get the latest information on important dates, please visit xprize.org/digitallearning. 


XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $100 Million XPRIZE Carbon Removal with Elon Musk, $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $15M XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10 Million XPRIZE Rainforest, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, and $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling. For more information, visit xprize.org.

About the Institute of Education Sciences

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the independent and nonpartisan statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Their mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. Learn more at ies.ed.gov/.