Teams awarded seed grants by Illinois Learning Sciences Design Initiative

by Sharita Forrest  /   Oct 1, 2015

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John Toenjes, music director for Dance at Illinois, describes how his team is developing the architecture of an interactive mobile application they created to study real-time group behavior in varied learning environments.

ILSDI part of College's broad-based mission to revolutionize teaching and learning across contexts and lifespan 

Ten interdisciplinary research teams at the Urbana campus have been awarded grants under the first phase of the Illinois Learning Sciences Design Initiative’s seed funding program.

A kickoff luncheon for the Illinois Learning Sciences Design Initiative (ILSDI) was held Sept. 18 at the College of Education. Led by Education at Illinois, ILSDI is part of the College’s broad-based mission to revolutionize teaching and learning across contexts and the lifespan by developing and commercializing cutting-edge technological platforms and tools.

"We want to reinvigorate the PLATO tradition."
- Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, associate dean for research and research education in the College of Education at Illinois 

“Through ILSDI, we want to reinvigorate the PLATO tradition, where, in the 1960s, scientists at Illinois created new technologies that generated numerous innovations in teaching and learning,” said Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, the associate dean for research and research education in the College.

“As educators, we want to get back into the business of producing the tools, technologies and spaces that transform kids’ learning experiences. We want to continue to do basic research, but also move into the design, production, dissemination, and commercialization of these products,” Abd-El-Khalick said.

The teams, which comprise 55 faculty members and students, were awarded approximately $4,000 each to found a seminar or colloquium culminating in a research, development, or design proposal and a white paper.

The white papers will be used to identify key themes that will define and guide the initiative’s future efforts.

The concept for a laboratory that would nurture cross-disciplinary collaborations in teaching and learning technologies emerged from the 2013 outcomes report associated with the Visioning Future Excellence at Illinois process.

Originally called the “Illinois Learning Sciences Design Laboratory,” the initiative, organized by the College, kicked off Feb. 27 with a lightning symposium at the Hyatt Place in Champaign.

More than 120 faculty and staff members and students—representing 10 colleges or schools and 37 academic units, institutes, or centers on campus—responded to the call for proposals, showcasing their cross-disciplinary projects in 60 presentations, posters, or demonstrations.