In Search of Ed Tech Ideas that Reimagine Learning

Posted by Liz Dwyer

ed.tech
Know of a small business with great ideas that reimagine learning? Through the 2013 Small Business Innovation Research Program, the U.S. Department of Education is looking to fund a slew of innovative education technology prototypes for five high-need sectors. 

One of the sectors is special education, which doesn't always seem to get the attention it deserves from ed tech hardware and software developers. But that might change since the department is offering awards ranging from $150,000 to $1,050,000 to help develop prototypes and products that will "improve student learning in education and special education settings."

What's especially interesting however, is that the department is also partnering with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose "mission is to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security by sponsoring revolutionary, high-payoff research bridging the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use."

They're offering up to $150,000 for "proposals for the development and evaluation of commercially viable education technology games" in statistics and probability learning, supporting English learners, "neuroplastic games for improving foreign language learning," and "hybrid videogames/graphic novels to support computer science learning."

DARPA was formed after the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, and in his 2011 State of the Union address President Obama called for a Sputnik moment in education reform and innovation, so this kind of partnership isn't exactly a surprise. Perhaps those focus areas are topics the Obama administration—or DARPA—feels impact our national security? Or, how about a slightly less sinister motive: what student wouldn't want to learn computer programming through gaming and graphic novels? Proposals are due by February 5, 2013.

Hot key for learn image via Shutterstock