When my book, “Learn Better,” on the science of learning was released in 2017, I never thought it would turn into a company, certainly not a non-profit. I wrote the book because I cared deeply about how people learn — and how they can learn more productively. In too many cases, people simply don’t learn effectively.
The book certainly did much better than I ever thought. The editors at Amazon called it “the best science book of the year.” Scientific American, Vox, and Wired all published excerpts. I even managed to work with NPR to create a science of learning quiz that went viral.
Shortly after the book was released, I launched The Learning Agency. A consulting firm, the company helps individuals and organizations harness the power of expertise. Our specialty is the science of learning and development, from middle school math to mental health. As a consultancy, we offer strategy, communications, research, and analytics.
The company has had some clear successes. For instance, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with MIT and Edx to launch a course to teach medical professionals how to properly use ventilators with coronavirus patients. Developed within a few weeks, the course landed attention everywhere from The Wall Street Journal to Business Insider and had more than 290,000 enrollees.
Now I’m excited that we’re launching The Learning Agency Lab, a non-profit that seeks to use what we know about the science of learning to improve the effectiveness of K-12 and higher education, especially for historically marginalized populations. The Lab has been registered in Arizona and has obtained nonprofit status from the IRS.
The Lab creates free or at-cost resources that leverage the science of learning to improve student outcomes. The Lab’s online-line learning magazine, the Learning Curve, features articles and interviews that demonstrate how learning science can be incorporated into classrooms, curriculum, and educational tools to improve student achievement.
Less than a year old, the Lab spearheaded The Write Tools Challenge, an effort to engage teachers in the creation of the next generation of online and tech-smart tools to help students become better writers.
The Lab gathered ideas and input from more than 200 teachers, which was shared with researchers, data scientists, and programmers to foster the development of open-source algorithms. Our goal is to make assisted writing tools more useful to students and educators, and more cost-effective for schools.
Through these projects and others The Lab helps create tools that foster a system of learning that works for all students, no matter where they live.