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EDesign Lab

by Kate Meersschaert

March 18, 2013

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The EDesign Lab is a collaboration between educators, technologists, and designers to prototype and incubate real examples of what interactive digital learning can look like to improve student engagement, motivation, and success (New Visions for Public Schools).

Prototyping New Possibilities:
EDesign Lab (previously Digital Teacher Corp or DTC Lab) hopes to help educators to design, develop and test digital prototypes to support learning. Funded by the Ford Foundation and created in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools, the program selects a group of six NYC-area educators each year to partner with technologists, leading designers and various specialists to create unique digital learning solutions. With an overall goal of developing interactive technologies that help educators to address real student needs seen first-hand in their classrooms, the program hopes to contribute technologies that will ultimately lead to increased learner engagement and motivation. Due to the fact that these collaboration sessions occur in New York City with local teachers, the scale of the testing ground alone has the potential to have an impact.

Incubating Innovation:
Educators who are selected for the program are given a $3,000 stipend and asked to commit to a set number of collaborative "lab sessions" throughout the school year. During these sessions teachers are partnered with a diverse team of interdisciplinary experts. For example, the program kicked-off the school year with "Imagination Camp" at NYU’s Tisch ITP Program, otherwise known as the "Center for the Recently Possible." This setting is especially apropos as it sums-up the forward-thinking approach of the program and the emphasis on creating resources that are a radical departure from those currently available. EDesign Lab encourages participants to focus on multiple areas of development, including: mobile applications, data visualizations, content mash-ups, augmented reality, embodied interfaces and digital games and simulations. Recent projects have included Evident.ly, a youth-led platform for scientific inquiry and ReadingRobot, an app developed to encourage "active reading" and greater social engagement in the reading process. The EDesign website notes that "Innovation often emerges from the intersection of disciplines" and through exposure, funding and creating the time and space to allow educators to ideate and execute." EDesign Lab is setting the stage for educator-led breakthroughs in educational technology by bringing together actors who don’t usually have the chance to perform together. Have something to say about this exciting new collaborative space? Join the conversation on Vialogues.

Image: Detail from EDesign Lab.