Early Learning Tech

Building the capacity of early childhood professionals through effective use of technology and the development of tools to meet the needs of teachers, parents and caregivers.

corner square square circle pie

The Early Learning Lab (The Lab) believes the early childhood field can leverage technology to accelerate children’s early learning outcomes at scale. The Lab’s thought leadership and solution development focuses on the ways that technology can and should be used to support high-quality adult-child interactions, enhance program and service operations, and streamline and coordinate systems-level data.

We work hand-in-hand with parents, teachers and caregivers to create solutions that help them to support their children’s healthy development and we produce trainings, publications, and convening on how to effectively use technology across early childhood settings.


High-quality social emotional learning (SEL) is essential for children’s success, both in the classroom and throughout life. However, despite important investments in SEL training for teachers, educators face understandable challenges when they try to apply what they learned in their day-to-day routines.

With Reflectable®, educators boost their professional learning with an online, guided 10-minute weekly reflective practice – harnessing the power of incremental change to dramatically increase their impact on children’s social emotional learning in areas they decide matter most. Reflectable fits into teachers’ busy schedules by offering bite-sized actions that improve both outcomes and job satisfaction.

Learn More

Teacher talking student through activity

A Statewide Parent Portal for California

Father researching on phone

Navigating California’s complex system of child care and early education programs can be a challenging process for families. To ensure that families have access to timely, accurate information about high-quality programs, enrollment, and eligibility for benefits, California is developing a “Parent Portal”.

Brought in by the California Department of Education, we worked with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and other partners to conduct user research and provide recommendations on the design and development of a statewide portal that will maximize parental choice and knowledge of child care options in California.

Read Case Study

Enabling Smart Early Childhood Technology in Public Systems

The interactive report Enabling Smart Early Childhood Technology in Public Systems: Where We Are and What Comes Next explores the critical ways that technology can and should be used across early childhood settings to support high-quality adult-child interactions, enhance program and service operations, and streamline and coordinate systems-level data.

We partnered with leading early childhood organizations to examine current tech adoption and public funding in each organizations’ respective home state: California, Illinois, and Texas. With this report, we aim to empower the growing number of early childhood technology entrepreneurs with a better understanding of what tech solutions are most critically needed now and to give program implementers, government and systems leaders, and funders concrete strategies to better support tech adoption.

Read Report

Child in playroom

NextGen Technology

Parent reading tablet while baby sleeps

Since the inception of The Lab, we have heard both enthusiasm for and skepticism about the use of technology in the early childhood field. One area of discussion is the use of technology to reach and support parents and other caregivers of children.

Because of technology’s potential to engage parents and the many questions surrounding its efficacy, we’ve decided to explore this issue. Thanks to funding from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, we’re excited to release the report NextGen Technology: Insights and Recommendations to Support the Parents of Children Ages 0–3.

10 Critical Design Elements for Parent Engagement Technology

A growing concern for the early childhood field is how to best support families in nurturing their young children’s healthy development. Technology-based interventions hold great promise, but only if they are designed to reach families and are truly useful to them.

At The Lab, we have been surveying early childhood technology, learning how products and programs are being implemented and evaluated, and identifying best technology practices for family engagement. Learn more about the 10 design elements we see as critical to maximizing the impact of any early learning parent engagement tool.

Learn More

Pregnant woman researching on tablet

Improving Technology that Connects Parents, Health Providers & Community Organizations

Health provider talking to child and parents

The Lab worked with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to improve the user interface and overall design of FINDConnect, their platform that connects families to resources to address the social determinants of health.

Throughout the fall of 2017, we interviewed clinicians, navigators, and families about their experience with the tool. We also conducted observations of the tool in use to better understand how the information flow and interface can be improved.

Visit FINDConnect.org

Incentivizing Teachers to Use Assessment Tools

To​ ​better​ ​understand​ ​what​ ​supports​ ​and​ ​incentives​ ​are needed​ ​to​ ​increase​ teachers’​ ​use​ ​of​ a California online assessment tool, called the ​DRDPtech,​ ​we​ ​conducted​ ​focus groups​ ​with​ ​early​ ​childhood​ ​teachers ​in the San Jose area for First 5 Santa Clara.​​ ​

DRDPtech​ ​enables​ ​teachers​ ​to​ ​enter​ ​assessments​ ​of​ ​children​ ​through​ ​observational​ ​data aligned to​ ​early​ ​childhood​ ​development foundations.​ ​The data​ helps inform instruction, and child care providers are required to upload assessments to​ ​score​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​rating​ ​on​ ​the​​ ​Child Observation​​ ​element​ ​in​ ​the​ ​California​ ​Quality Rating and Improvement (QRIS)​ ​system.​ The Lab provided recommendations for First 5 Santa Clara on how they can better provide technical support and incentivize the use of DRDPtech in their county.

Visit DesiredResults.us

Teacher interacting with student