A TIER-ED approach to solving education’s most pressing issues

The University of Illinois' Technology Innovation in Educational Research and Design convenes a broad range of expertise in a bid to sharpen the cutting edge of edtech

Technology Innovation in Educational Research and Design (TIER-ED), based in the College of Education at the University of Illinois, brings together a variety of experts from within the college and around campus. Participants work with a variety of technologies – augmented reality, virtual reality, data analytics, multi-touch and other interfaces, and online learning platforms – as they seek to enhance their utility in edtech.

Director of TIER-ED, Robb Lindgren, said: “TIER-ED supports new research that would effectively use the digital media platforms that are becoming available to us to solve big pressing issues in education. We will be creating new tools and designs that we can scale up and have an impact; on the state, first and foremost, but also nationally and internationally.”

Last autumn, the college added three new faculty members —each with different interests within educational technology research and development – to TIER-ED’s ranks: Drs. Nathan Castillo, Cynthia D’Angelo, and Michael Tissenbaum.

“We needed a burst of momentum to keep that going into the future,” said Lindgren.

A major motivation lies in creating more equitable and accessible educational experiences for diverse learners. This might range from better-using mobile devices to building gesture-recognition systems helping people understand challenging science and math concepts.

Large-scale interdisciplinary research is another core component. Working with investigators in the campus’ existing interdisciplinary research faculties, such as the College of Engineering and the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications, TIER-ED provides the infrastructure for developing wide-ranging edtech solutions.

“Often, such interdisciplinary initiatives are serendipitous,” said Lindgren. “With a bit more attention to those possibilities, TIER-ED will attract people in different disciplines to collaborate. And those collaborations will happen more frequently and with more power.”

Lindgren foresees TIER-ED growing well beyond its three years of secured funding. “Our initial proposal was based on a 10 year vision,” he explained. “With the injection of new talent and new resources, we aim to generate revenues through grants and student tuition that can fuel TIER-ED well beyond that.”

Visit tier-ed.education for more details.