Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you want to connect postdocs to the education technology industry?

We see post-docs as powerful change agents. By funding the placement of postdocs in industry, they serve as an impetus and key information source to try out new education technology practice. Industry organizations that own and operate learning environments are more likely to collaborate with researchers if they are “embedded” in their working operations, so we plan to embed post-docs into their working operations through industry-university partnerships.

How do you select the partnerships?

All universities in the collaboration have strong connections to the education technology sector. For instance, Carnegie Mellon University has strong connections to Duolingo and Acrobatiq, while MIT has ties to EdX. The current group of postdocs have been placed at a variety of organizations including Turnitin and Carnegie Learning.

Can I fund a Learning Engineer postdoctoral student or visiting scholar?

Companies interested in fully funding a Learning Engineer postdoctoral student or a visiting scholar in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University should contact Bruce McLaren.

Do you plan to increase the number of postdocs available?

We will start with 2-4 post-docs in the first year, and increase to 4 total in the second year. Subsequently, we would like to increase by 2 post-docs each year depending on funding and the results of the pilot years.

Who serves on the selection committee?

The committee will include a representative from each of the LearnSphere university partners, one or more representatives from the funder, and one or more industry representatives. The committee will verify that candidate proposals meet all of the requirements and, as needed, vote for which of the qualified proposals to fund.  

What should be included in the proposal from graduate students?

The 2-page proposal must describe:

  1. At least one data analytic project to be completed before the end of the first year (could involve an A/B test)
  2. At least one close-the-loop project to be completed by the end of the second year (must involve an A/B test)
  3. How the project will produce generalizable science and/or technology that other institutions (companies, schools, universities) can use
  4. How the project will improve the company product, particularly with reference to increasing student learning outcomes and/or reducing time or costs while maintaining learning outcomes.
  5. Budget for up to $120K for each of the two years ($240K total).  

Who is eligible to apply?

Partnerships comprised of representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, or University of Memphis, and education technology organizations seeking joint-funding for a post-doctoral researcher.

What are the selection criteria?

Applicants must commit to the following selection criteria:

  • Selection of post-doc
    • That the postdoc hired will come with expertise in at least two of the following areas and seek to enhance expertise in all:
      • cognitive, educational, or social psychology of learning,
      • a content domain that matches industry product content (e.g., second language expertise for Duolingo, physics expertise for an EdX physics course, etc.),
      • advanced analytic or ed tech expertise in statistics, psychometrics, machine learning, or artificial intelligence
  • Publication: Postdoc has publication rights. Industry (and university) supervisors have the option to be a co-author.
  • Support
    • Cover in-kind costs for space
    • Provide postdoc with supervision
  • Technical
    • Prior IP is protected
    • New IP is jointly owned by participants or made public as agreed proposal.  
    • Using LearnSphere for storing and sharing data and analytics

What are the requirements for university partners?

University partners are required to:

  • Provide analytics in LearnSphere with open access by industry and, more generally, in either private-but-sharable or public status
  • Limited in-kind costs for data analytic improvements and programmer assistance for product modifications for AB testing

What are the requirements for industry partners?

Industry partners are required to:

  • Place data in LearnSphere in private-but-sharable (with access controlled by industry lead) or public status
  • Cover Limited in-kind costs for data access and product modifications for AB testing