Higher Education & K-12 Educators Connect to Support Educational Innovation

Regardless of technological ingenuity, the effectiveness of any educational technology product is dependent on its ability to address the needs of the education community. Unfortunately, a lack of access to education stakeholders has been noted as one of the greatest challenges to educational entrepreneurs. This lack of classroom and educator access can greatly hamper the innovation and product development process.

With a goal to nurture the ongoing relationships between education stakeholders, researcher, entrepreneurs and technology companies the Faculty of Education at Brock University and the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) have combined forces to create the Educational Research and Innovation Hub.

Located within a grade 6 - 9 middle school, (it will grow to include grades 10 -12) the iHub will provide researcher and entrepreneurs with the distinct advantage of being in close proximity to education stakeholders so that they may easily observe classroom and school-wide practice, gather educational insight, solicit educator and student feedback or pilot the use of innovative products in an authentic context.

Suraj Srinivas, co-founder of Vetica, is one of many who see the incredible value in having the Hub located in a K-12 institution. “Having a hub like this in a school with access to teachers and students in a supervised environment is huge for us. We can create something, push it out there to our potential users, and get their feedback quickly which is so important to a small company like ours.

During the iHub opening on February 26, 2014, the DSBN Director of Education, Warren Hoshizaki, noted “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.”

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

Once in operation, the iHub will:
  • Facilitate research opportunities that pair university researchers with entrepreneurs and educational technology companies to investigate the impact of newly created educational technologies and support the development of new innovations. 
  • House a co-working space where educators, researchers, entrepreneurs and educational technology companies can develop ongoing relationships.
  • Deliver an ongoing series of presentations, colloquium, focus groups, and networking opportunities that bring educators, researchers, software developers, entrepreneurs and educational technology companies together to connect, collaborate and disseminate innovative ideas. 
The Brock / DSBN Educational Research and Innovation Hub is not the first time that these two organizations have combined forces to support educational innovation. The school district and university were the original organizers of CONNECT 2014: Canada’s Learning and Technology Conference. This unique two-day event connects K-12, college and university educators, school leaders and technologists with the technology resources that support 21st century teaching and learning.

These endeavours highlight the ongoing relationships needed to needed to mobilize the knowledge of these combined communities and support the development of innovative educational approaches, tools and resources.

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