DSBN, Brock Partner to Launch Educational Research and Innovation Hub

From the Brock News

The District School Board of Niagara and Brock University’s Faculty of Education are collaborating on a unique initiative to support innovation in Canadian education and technology.

Housed inside 2,100 square feet at the DSBN Academy in St. Catharines, the newly minted Educational Research and Innovation Hub will bring together a wide range of stakeholders to cultivate powerful new learning technologies.

“We see incredible potential in this new project,” says Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education. “We know there is a wealth of entrepreneurs out there searching for opportunities to use their talents and skills to support Canadian education. The expertise and resources they access at the Hub will assist them in changing their ideas into tools that improve teacher practice and benefit student learning for years to come.”

When the Hub officially opens its doors in late February, it will be a home to several original start-up companies. The collaborative atmosphere of the Hub will promote discussion, idea sharing and creativity amongst educators, researchers, graduate students, entrepreneurs and education technology companies.

Dr. Fiona Blaikie, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University, believes that the Hub is an example of how 21st century research should take place.

“Everything unfolds in context and in partnership,” says Blaikie. “As leaders in technology education, Faculty of Education researchers and students are superbly positioned to engage with entrepreneurs and colleagues at DSBN to better serve to society, teaching, learning and scholarship.”

Dr. Camille Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, acknowledges that there needs to be a direct line from invention to practice.

“Regardless of technologic ingenuity, the effectiveness of any education innovation is dependent on its ability to address the needs of education,” says Rutherford. “Unfortunately, a lack of access to education stakeholders has been noted as one of the greatest challenges to educational entrepreneurs that often come from non-education backgrounds.”

The Hub aims to eliminate the disconnect between educational insight and the innovation process. It will bridge this gap by providing entrepreneurs with the opportunity to observe actual classes and the strategies teachers use to support student learning. Start-ups will also be able to refine their products by observing their use in an actual classroom setting. This will allow companies to make necessary enhancements to ensure they are best meeting the needs of students, teachers and schools.

In addition to the benefits the Hub will bring to the product development process, students will also benefit from their interactions with these start-up companies.

“Students will have safe access to programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs, giving them the ability to ask questions, share ideas and learn more about potential career paths,” says Dino Miele, DSBN Chief Information Officer.

Located within the DSBN Academy at 130 Louth Street in St. Catharines, the Hub is unique in its location.

“There are a number of EdTech incubators and accelerators throughout North America, but there has yet to be a location that is housed within a K-12 educational institution,” says Rutherford.

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