Teachers College EdTech Contest Will Showcase Student Innovation in Learning | Teachers College Columbia University

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Teachers College Launches 2017 Innovation Award

EdTech Contest to Showcase Student Innovation

Teachers College is launching its 2017 Innovation Award to recognize and celebrate excellent student innovation at the intersection of learning, design, research, and technology. The contest, which will culminate with a showcase event on December 13th, is open to all students in all programs at Teachers College and Columbia University.

The Innovation Award is the result of collaboration by TCEdTech; the Communication, Media, Learning Technologies Design Program (CMLTD); and the Office of Digital Learning at Teachers College.

The Award reflects the College’s growing leadership in incorporating research and advanced learning analytics into the design and development of technology that genuinely enhances teaching and improves learning. Drawing on expertise across academic disciplines and departments, the TCEdTech initiative provides guidance, support and resources to developers, investors, and users in New York City and beyond. The Innovation Award program will provide networking and mentoring opportunities for participants with educators and education technology designers and professionals.

The objective of the contest is to innovate and create new education technology based on research and the quality of the idea, rather than commercial value. The contest announcement web site describes “innovation” as “interdisciplinary and collaborative by nature,” adding that “it takes both technology and domain expertise to do it with depth, and to do it right.”

In an Education Week opinion piece last February, President Susan Fuhrman argued that educational technology design and investments are too often disconnected from education research: “When it comes to education technology, the logical connection between evidence of effectiveness and the wisdom of investment decisions is often ignored.” TCEdTech is premised on the belief that millions of dollars are spent on educational technology products that are ineffective and unproven; and that these products are often designed without collaboration with researchers and therefore are not aligned with current learning sciences research.

The Innovation Award competition is designed to guide interdisciplinary teams of contestants with high-potential ideas through the process of developing concepts into product prototypes. Contestants will document their process and present their entries at the final showcase in December. Prior to that event, participating teams will take part in a three-month supportive program, in which they will:

  • Learn to design, develop, and test their ideas.
  • Work with experienced researchers and mentors to critically examine their process and work.
  • Learn new skills through interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Create a substantive body of work as a stage for future opportunities.

The projects are expected to address wide-ranging issues in education. They will be evaluated based on the importance of the problem; the level of innovation involved; and the value, potential impact, or effectiveness of the proposed solution; as well as the quality and design of an effectiveness test and literature review. The judges will also consider the process by which the problem is addressed, and whether it is based on feedback, documentation, and communication of findings over the course of development.

Submissions may be in the form of web apps, games and toys, virtual reality, software, or hardware. Examples of end products could be prototypes, physical artifacts, designed experiences, models, or processes.

Final projects will be judged by a panel of experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives, including faculty members, EdTech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, teachers, school administrators, and students. A diverse panel of judges will choose the winning projects. Participants who complete the workshop series and the showcase will receive a certificate of completion from Teachers College, which carries one credit of continuing education units (at no cost to the participants).

Prizes include up to $3,000 from Amazon Web Services credits; dedicated assistance from TC EdTech in finding resources to grow their business; access to industry leaders; and press coverage, including a feature on the Amazon Web Services website.

Participation in the program is team based. All Columbia University students are encouraged to apply. Teams are encouraged to be interdisciplinary and must have at least one currently enrolled Teachers College student.

A mandatory information session on September 8th is oversubscribed, but questions may be directed to Miranda Meyerson at innovation@tc.columbia.edu.

Published Friday, Sep 1, 2017