EXP: Collaborative Research: Engaging Interdisciplinary Students in Innovation Education through Crowd-based Technology

Steven Dow, Carnegie-Mellon University (Award Details)
Elizabeth Gerber, Northwestern University (Award Details)

This project team is exploring how crowd-based technology can support innovation education through feedback from potential customers and users, specifically looking at how the new forms of authentic feedback can be put to good use to support learning better to design, solve problems, and innovate. Research is around issues in learning through collaborations with potential consumers mediated by technology. What are the affordances of crowd-based technology that can support learning to design, learning to innovate, learning to use feedback well, and learning to effectively iterate towards an effective and innovative result? How does use of such technology and interactions need to be scaffolded to such learning? What crowd-based activities and what types of design challenges afford such learning? Foundations are in Learning by Design (LBD), thick authenticity, and Project-Based Science (PBS).

A key to America’s economic and social prosperity depends on people’s ability to innovate social and technical solutions. Crowd-based technologies provide opportunities for innovators to interact with potential consumers and experts while innovating, but they have not been used in innovation education. Feedback from crowds could, however, be used to provide learners an opportunity to receive rich informative feedback on design ideas and to develop solutions that fit real-world needs. This project will contribute to our nation’s ability to better prepare engineers for innovation. The technology suggested here will, if successful, make opportunities for experiencing both the difficulties of innovating and the kinds of support structures that can help and will provide an infrastructure for helping potential innovators learn to use feedback from others wisely. In addition, the results of this project will contribute towards enhancing project-based experiences throughout the curriculum. What is learned in this project about supporting learning to design, learning to innovate, learning to use feedback well, and learning to effectively iterate towards an effective result has potential to inform the effective use of project-based and design-based classes across grades and disciplines.

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