Innovation Award 2017

Call to all Columbia University Students

Let's bridge the gap between EdTech and learning research.
We want to help you design and build innovative learning technologies together.



What is the Innovation Award?

Teachers College (TC) presents the 2017 Innovation Award. This inaugural award recognizes and celebrates excellence in student innovation at the intersection of learning, design, research, and technology.

How does this work?

The Innovation Award is actually more than a single event. Leading up to the award is a three month supporting program for teams with high-potential talent and ideas. This program is selective and designed to guide teams through the process of developing concepts into 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.


How are teams and ideas evaluated?

Problems and projects will be wide-ranging. The following are five areas that will be considered.

Category Description
Innovation Innovative quality of the problem, approach, and solution
Process Evolution of the project based on feedback, documentation, and communication over the course of the program
Relevance Significance of the addressed topic and problem
Research Rationale based upon literature review and supporting research
Value Potential impact and effectiveness of a solution

These categories are not intended to be a definitive measure. Rather, they will be used as a guide to allow fairness and equity in the proceedings.

Projects will be evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of a range of disciplines and perspectives (e.g. TC and Columbia faculty members, Edtech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, teachers, school administrators, members of the student senate.)

TC EdTech Initiative

What is the problem?

In a recent Education Week article, President 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 is the solution?

Through the collaborative efforts of the TC EdTech Initiative and the Communication, Media, Learning Technologies Design Program (CMLTD), the 2017 Innovation Award is one of TC’s first public steps forward in addressing this issue.

Our approach:

  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 and delighted by the traction that has been building behind the spirit.

If you would like to join the growing support for this commitment by becoming a sponsor, please visit the TC EdTech homepage or contact Miranda Meyerson for more information.