Innovation Award 2023

Call to all Columbia University Students

Let's bridge the gap between EdTech and learning research.

We'll help you design and build innovative learning technologies.

Problem & Challenge

Media and Storytelling
in the Design Process

  • How can you empathize with stakeholders and understand their needs, perspectives, and challenges?
  • How can you incorporate storytelling and media in your design to address their problems?
  • How can you create a compelling multimedia presentation that showcases the benefits and impact of your solution, while engaging and persuading our stakeholders?


INA 2023 calls for proposal to solve these pressing problems, by designing innovative Educational Technology.

TC Digital Futures Institute

This year's challenge is brought to you in part by the support of TC Digital Futures Institute


What is the Innovation Award?

INA's mission is to provide a pathway to innovative, research-based EdTech, bridging the gap between practice and research in the EdTech field. The 2023 INA calls on students to solve real-life problem through the design of an EdTech solution, backed by research, fueled by innovation, and presented with pursuasive media and stories.

How does this work?

This year's Innovation Award will be an in-person experience. Here are some of the key dates to keep in mind:

  • Information Session
    — March 3
  • Design Workshops
    — March 10 - March 31
  • Check-In Session
    — April 7
  • Award and Showcase Event
    — April 14

INA is selective and designed to guide teams through the process of refining concepts and product prototypes.

In this program your team will:

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

At the end of the program, final product prototypes will be judged by a panel of experts in a culminating competition and showcase event.


What is innovation in Educational Technology (EdTech)?

Innovation is broadly defined as an original idea, product, method, process, or model that can make a positive impact. The TC EdTech Initiative understands that education and technology innovation comes in many forms. The following table demonstrates the possible range of submissions:

Types Examples
Formats Digital, Non-digital, Hybrid
Technologies Web-apps, games and toys, virtual reality, software, hardware, etc.
Products Physical artifacts, designed experiences, models and processes, etc.
Perspectives Cognitive, classroom culture, research, data analytics, social justice, etc.
Audiences K-12, Higher Ed, Distance, Teachers, Parents, Administrators etc.

This list above is far from exhaustive, but the takeaway is that students from all subject matters and different technology and technical expertise are encouraged to participate.

Open to all Columbia University students.

Innovation in EdTech is interdisciplinary and collaborative by nature. It takes both technology and domain expertise to do it with depth, and to do it right. As such, the Innovation Award is open to all Columbia University students. Opportunities will be provided to help you find the right team.

See Students for details.

TC and EdTech

There's a problem with EdTech...

In a recent Education Week article, Susan Fuhrman described how educational technology startups and companies are worryingly disconnected from researchers and academics (Fuhrman, 2017).

Millions of dollars are spent on educational technology products that are ineffective and unproven. These products are often designed without collaboration with researchers and are not aligned with current learning sciences research.

What we're doing about it.

Innovation Award was established through the collaborative efforts of the TC EdTech Initiative and the Communication, Media, Learning Technologies Design Program (CMLTD) as one of TC's first public steps forward in addressing the issue of disparity between EdTech practice and research.

With continued support from the TC Digital Futures Institute and the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology, INA strives to:

  1. Connect creators to researchers
  2. Build interdisciplinary capacity
  3. Bridge industry to academia

By connecting students from different disciplines and research within the TC community, and bridging the gaps between institution and industry, it’s our goal to inspire innovation in the field of applied learning.

TC’s commitment to the future of EdTech

TC is committed to the future of educational technology with a special emphasis on sound practices grounded in research. We are proud to be hosting this event with the generous support by the Office of Alumni Relations, the Smith Learning Theater, and many others who have helped INA gain traction and contributed to the spirit of this undertaking.