The education tech space is getting top marks for looking at new ways to engage students as well as streamline education administration.
That was the message from more than 130 participants gathered at an Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) partnering forum held Nov. 23 at Communitech in Waterloo to launch the second round of OCE’s AdvancingEducation program. Participants included educators, administrators and companies with ideas to improve Ontario’s public education system.
“It is well recognized that technology has strong potential to increase student engagement and improve their learning and wellness while preparing them for a knowledge-driven economy,” said Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE. “We are fortunate in Ontario to have a burgeoning education technology sector with more than 200 companies developing innovative products and services.”
Launched earlier this year with the theme Future-Proof Learning – seeking demonstration of innovative technologies that engage all students in the development of global competencies, the AdvancingEducation program helps connect Ontario’s public education system with companies to test early-market interest and demonstrate innovative products and technologies in an education setting. This includes English and French K-12 schools as well as post-secondary institutions.
Six highly innovative projects funded under Round 1 of the program include a game-based approach to motivating children; a multi-sensory chair for children with autism; and a new approach to distance education.
“There are a number of ideas here today that I can take back to my classroom and the university as a whole,” said forum participant David Brock, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Western University, “Things like virtual reality as a learning tool and integrating computer science and technology across the whole science curriculum.”
The primary goal of the AdvancingEducation program is to identify where some of the challenges and opportunities of the education system can be matched with Ontario-made solutions in the form of innovative products and services
There is a growing awareness within the innovation system of the important role that governments can play as consumers and first adopters of innovation. OCE has taken a leadership role in designing and implementing programs supporting public sector innovation adoption, notably in the areas of education and health care. In 2014, OCE launched AdvancingHealth to foster collaboration between health care providers and industry to meet system-wide challenges. AdvancingEducation works under a similar model.
The benefits of government procurement flow to both businesses and the general public. Ontario businesses acquire valuable customers on their home turf, a chance to validate their products and grow their businesses, and the credibility needed to compete in a global market.
This $5-million AdvancingEducation program is an excellent example of this win-win strategy. The program will support up to 10 demonstration projects, with up to $250,000 available per demonstration project requiring a 1:1 matching cash and in-kind contribution from project partners.
OCE is accepting applications for Round 2 of AdvancingEducation until January 23, 2017.
You can find more information on the AdvancingEducation program on the program page.