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Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)


Submitted proposals for education applications should provide detailed descriptions of how the proposed application will work and provide examples of how users would interact with the application and how learning takes place. Projects that propose technologies or products similar to those in the marketplace or those similar to existing products and processes must make the case that the project has a strong innovative technical component. Projects that can be easily replicated by potential competitors such as curricula, tutorials, and generic content may not resonate with the review community and are not likely to be funded without sufficient technical innovation. Systems that simply combine known knowledge with existing technologies tend to lack innovation and are unlikely to be funded. NSF uses EA topic areas and keywords to help find reviewers familiar with your project's innovation and commercial potential to help provide you with an objective proposal review. When submitting a proposal to the EA Topic, also indicate the corresponding subtopic where the strongest case for the project's technical innovation can be made. For example, use EA1 for proposed projects that are in the area of "Pre K-12 Education" followed by appropriate keywords such as K-3, Grade 2, chemistry, robotics, etc. Proposals submitted to the EA topic area may be shared for consultation with other agencies such as the Department of Education.

Education Applications and Technology (EA) Topics:

  • EA1. Pre K-12 Education
  • EA2. Global, Distance, and Higher Education
  • EA3. Simulations and Gaming
  • EA4. Entrepreneurial, Informal, and Maker Education
  • EA5. Information Management, Assessment, and Adaptive Learning
  • EA6. Computer Science Education and Engineering Education

The subtopics provide are listed to simply generate ideas for the types of projects NSF may fund. Any educational project with a strong innovative component that has a superior commercial potential will be seriously considered by NSF's SBIR/STTR program.

EA1. Pre-K - 12 Education

EA1 topics can include 1) technology transfer of innovative and sustainable products and services that leverage and commercialize the education research investments made to educational institutions by the National Science Foundation and other government agencies; 2) authentic and active learning approaches that are more student-centered in environments that are familiar to learners that provide solutions which address the needs of a variety of learners for pre K-12 students, 3) innovative delivery, applications, content, and curricula on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that provides new or alternative forms of sharing and repurposing information, content, pedagogies, and experiences that are long-term and sustainable; 4) learning technologies that motivate and enhance the self-esteem and learning performance of students; 5) innovative applications that better enable classroom management, recordkeeping, and standards-aligned planning, and facilities management, 6) applications that ease the burden of the ever increasing roles and responsibilities that educators and enables them to more effectively use educational resources; 7) systems and tools that may better enable education leaders to implement change across institutional settings; 8) authoring systems and content generators that easily allow educators to create, distribute, and share new resources across multiple platforms; and 9) digital badges and other credentialing mechanisms that motivate students to achieve desired outcomes and aid teachers in professional development efforts.

EA2. Global, Distance, and Higher Education

EA 2 topics can include 1) innovative applications that use online learning, hybrid learning, crowdsourcing, collective intelligence, and collaborative models with new tools with the potential to deliver new and powerful educational opportunities in STEM disciplines; 2) learning environments that allow students to control and experiment with educational situations in relationship to their personal learning style to acquire knowledge anytime, anywhere; 3) technologies that enable innovative forms of educational collaboration across national boundaries and promotes international awareness, diversity, and understanding; 4) learning applications that provide for better decision making and informed judgments about problems and situations affecting global issues related to theory and education technology; 5) projects in which technology allows the tailoring of learning experiences to special needs and interests of groups or individuals or allows expanding formal education beyond classroom settings; 6) virtual and remote laboratories that enhance the physical science laboratory for use in global and distance learning to leverage time and availability of equipment that may otherwise be unavailable; and 7) personal learning environments that allow students to control their environment in relationship to their personal learning style in order to acquire knowledge with consideration of their mentor's expectations.

EA3. Simulations and Gaming Technologies

EA3 topics can include 1) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related innovative educational gaming and simulation applications that enable engaging learning experiences, digital literacy, collaboration, problem solving, communications, critical thinking, and skill improvement; 2) single-player, small-groups, or massively multiplayer online gaming applications that foster cooperation and can include card, board, or digital games; 3) serious games, simulation based games, and entrepreneurial related games with substantial innovations that go beyond porting current knowledge, processes, and applications towards existing technologies and delivery platforms; 4) games that target the assessment of student knowledge while providing intrinsic motivation for student participation; 5) games that better enable entrepreneurs to learn and effectively compete in a global economy and to manage and control complex technical projects; 6) games that support immersive and experimental learning; 7) simulations and roleplaying games where students can participate in providing creative solutions to difficult or complex situations; and 7) laboratory simulations that accurately reflect similar physical environments that may otherwise be costly, use precious resources, expose students to dangerous situations, or otherwise be unavailable for general student use.

EA4. Entrepreneurial, Informal, and Maker Education

EA4 topics can include 1) entrepreneurship education and training that integrates diverse topics as strategic planning, business model development, opportunity recognition, product design development and entry, intellectual property, project management, legal requirements, custom manufacturing, production scale-up, crowdsource funding, and business constraints in in new and innovative ways for success in the contemporary global economy; 2) maker empowerment with education and innovative tools for citizens and institutions who create things such as entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, inventors, researchers, educators, and students to dream, design, create, manufacture, and commercialize products and services or to provide life-long learning experiences; 3) educational tools and services that teach, promote, and develop creativity to foster and accelerate new innovations; 4) innovative techniques and systems that can increase the participation or demonstration in hands-on learning related to citizen science, engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship of technical products and services; 5) innovative tools to learn or judge the effectiveness and validity of external resources for research, product launch, and effective operations of technological and education related products and services; 6) devices and tools that enable expanded dimensional learning such as 3D modeling, 3D scanning, and both 3D and bio printing, laser and high tech cutters, computer aided design (CAD), as well as new materials and technologies for science, engineering, and technological learning environments; 7) applications that better enable informal and traditional learning or applications that help bridge formal and informal learning environments or effectively promote positive behavior changes; 8) tools that better enable cross-disciplinary collaboration in formal, informal, and makerspace education environments; 9) tools and platforms enhancing cultural awareness and the need to manage and direct innovation; 10) tools to better enable the scaling of technologies developed in the makerspace; and 11) innovative tools and systems that may better enable small companies in the education space to successfully market and distribute their products and services more efficiently.

EA5. Information Management, Assessment, and Adaptive Learning

EA5 topics can include 1) data-driven learning and assessment using new sources of data for a personalized learning experience and the assessment and measurement of performance, 2) learning analytics tools to process and analyze data streams to modify learning goals and strategies in real time; 3) adaptive learning environments combined with assessments that provide alternative paths of instruction; 4) big data, searching, data mining, data analysis, intelligent agents, knowledge modeling, user models, mobile tools, and decision support systems that improve the understanding of teaching and learning to improve student performance, retention, and transfer in environments that may include one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships; and 5) collecting, analyzing, sharing, and managing data that promotes learning or leads to designed learning environments; 6) tools that build real-time information from datamining on complexity, diversity, and similar types of information to generate knowledge that can be used to revise curricula and teaching; 7) cloud-based services and applications that support collaboration, file storage, teacher and student productivity, data collection, data security, data privacy, and ubiquitous access to information in secure environments in an educational setting; and 8) tools that leverage new information management techniques to enable educational institutions to discern patterns in behavior, usage, and other analytics to guide education efforts and facility operations.

EA6. Computer Science Education and Engineering Education

EA6 topics can include 1) education tools that benefit from objects having their own IP address or location based services for new types of communications, assistive technologies, and new applications of benefit primarily to education; 2) wearable information centers, power sources, flexible displays, jewelry, glasses, output devices, and input tools that allow students to interface with computers and other devices in creative new ways that help overcome natural and physical barriers to learning; 3) interoperable mobile learning environments that enable students to access and connect to vast resources of knowledge wherever they may be located through smart phones, tablets, wearable devices, or tools that have yet to be developed; 4) virtual assistive technologies that may combine developments in engineering, computer science, and biometrics that add substance to both formal and informal learning situations; 5) systems and applications that address privacy concerns of educators and students including the safeguarding of personal data in a connected education environment; 6) innovative tools to quickly automate and allow for rapid conversion of educational media for easy archival and porting to multiple devices and formats; 7) innovations that allows students and others to use technologies that may improve their performance, knowledge, expertise, and provide for a rich educational experience; 8) content curation and distribution systems that provide just-in time resources for learners of any age; 9) sensors and systems that detect student engagement, frustration, or boredom while providing real time feedback to both students and teachers; 10) systems and components that could provide for enhanced capabilities and otherwise add to the infrastructure development and increased connectivity of educational environments; 11) natural voice, video, and online learning tools that humanize the online learning experience such as mimicking and detecting face-to-face experiences and interactions to communicate more authentically in a global environment; and 12) gesture-based computing applications, semantic analysis, and intuitive technology tools that enable individual and collaborative work with multiple students interacting on content simultaneously.

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