Wednesday, 24 April 2024 09:56

NSF invests $90M in innovative national scientific cyberinfrastructure for transforming STEM education Featured

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The U.S. National Science Foundation announced today a strategic investment of $90 million over five years in SafeInsights, a unique national scientific cyberinfrastructure aimed at transforming learning research and STEM education. Funded through the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Level-2 program (Mid-scale RI-2), SafeInsights is led by OpenStax at Rice University, who will oversee the implementation and launch of this new research infrastructure project of unprecedented scale and scope. 

SafeInsights aims to serve as a central hub, facilitating research coordination and leveraging data across a range of major digital learning platforms that currently serve tens of millions of U.S. learners across education levels and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

With its controlled and intuitive framework, unique privacy-protecting approach and emphasis on the inclusion of students, educators and researchers from diverse backgrounds, SafeInsights will enable extensive, long-term research on the predictors of effective learning, which are key to academic success and persistence. 

"We are thrilled to announce an investment of $90 million in SafeInsights, marking a significant step forward in our commitment to advancing scientific research in STEM education," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "There is an urgent need for research-informed strategies capable of transforming educational systems, empowering our nation's workforce, and propelling discoveries in the science of learning. By investing in cutting-edge infrastructure and fostering collaboration among researchers and educators, we are paving the way for transformative discoveries and equitable opportunities for learners across the nation."  

Because progress in science, technology and innovation increasingly relies on advanced research infrastructure — including equipment, cyberinfrastructure, large-scale datasets and skilled personnel — this Mid-scale RI-2 investment will allow researchers to delve into deeper and broader scientific inquiries than ever before. This will help society answer long-standing questions across STEM education, address the evolving needs of the scientific community, and strengthen U.S. leadership in STEM on a global scale. 

As SafeInsights progresses, it will support a dynamic and vibrant community of multidisciplinary scientists and engineers, fostering collaborative efforts that unlock crucial insights into human cognition that can lead to effective teaching strategies for diverse learners nationwide.  

By introducing a new era of personalized education, SafeInsights will equip educators and institutions with the knowledge and tools to create tailored programs, pedagogies and policies that will empower learners to thrive in today's dynamic educational landscape and tomorrow's workforce. 

"Research is essential for advancing education and taking learning to the next level," said Richard Baraniuk, SafeInsights leader, OpenStax director and Rice University professor. "To answer fundamental questions of what works, for whom, and in what learning contexts, we need large-scale, reliable research. SafeInsights brings together learning researchers, educators, schools, and colleges in a secure environment to get the answers we need while strongly protecting students and their interests." 

To learn more about the Mid-scale RI-2 program and view the project abstract, visit


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