Next Innovation Scholars tune in to 'CREATE' social innovation challenge
Students conceptualize new music education facility during 1819 Innovation Hub event
Amid the global pandemic's after-effects, educators, students and institutions were compelled to reexamine the fundamental principles of teaching and learning, prompting a thorough reassessment of available resources and forging new and innovative collaborations.
At the intersection of this shift, the University of Cincinnati NEXT Innovation Scholars program orchestrated an immersive social challenge for UC students at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Aaron Bradley, director of the NIS program, joined forces with Ryan Newman, an adjunct professor at the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, to outline the challenge they dubbed as CREATE (Collaborative Real-World Engagement in Arts, Technology, and Education).
“It's a great opportunity to bring innovation ideas from UC’s downtown campus out to other areas of Cincinnati. Our goal was to spotlight the immense talent within our university, demonstrating how, within a single day, a group of UC students can conceive exciting content, designs and production," Newman said.
The NEXT Innovation Scholars program takes on several projects each semester that allow students to leverage design thinking in commercial applications. It’s exciting to see students applying these same approaches to social and educational opportunities as well.
Aaron Bradley Director of the UC Next Innovation Scholars Program
Imagining a technology-enabled music education space
UC students worked in small, cross-disciplinary teams brainstorming novel program ideas for a non-profit organization, Best Point Education & Behavioral Health, in the conceptualization of its upcoming Madisonville space.
King Records Legacy Foundation has given a donation to support development of the space, designed to seamlessly fuse the realms of arts, music and technology to enhance music education experiences.
The participants were grouped into teams, each receiving a box filled with supplies, informational cards, thought-provoking questions and engaging activities to complete. UC students from a variety of majors were strategically paired with young learners in grades six-12, hailing from the Heidt Center of Excellence, which supports individuals with autism and related disorders, and Upper School Academy, a computer based online curriculum that allows credit deficient students in grades nine-12 to earn credits toward a high school diploma.
Diverse perspectives for inclusive design
For UC students, gaining insights from a variety of perspectives was paramount in designing a contemporary learning space that engages students of diverse intellectual backgrounds.
“This was a great opportunity to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams, which is the core tenant of NIS. Team members discussed how the space could facilitate music education and technology in accessible and equitable ways to excite and engage students while connecting them to the rich history of music in Cincinnati through King Records,” said Jonathan Raj, a UC fifth-year biomedical engineering and NIS student.
Bradley echoed these thoughts.
“The NEXT Innovation Scholars program takes on several projects each semester that allow students to leverage design thinking in commercial applications. It’s exciting to see students applying these same approaches to social and educational opportunities as well,” he said.
Visual exhibit of ideas
With a background in architecture, Newman guided students to think about how the environment helps shape behavior and activities. Each team presented their poster-board concepts for the space, accentuating the profound positive impacts of integrating an adaptable music program with state-of-the-art technology to not only enhance well-being, learning and cognitive function but also contribute to an overall sense of joy and satisfaction.
On the second day, an array of captivating elements from the poster boards, including color schemes, adaptable furniture, artificial intelligence innovations and a mobile music lab, were exhibited at the Best Point Madisonville space.
Newman emphasized the inclusive approach:
"We extended invitations to UC and NIS student teams, as well as community members, encouraging them to explore these displays and inquire about the concepts," Newman said. "Community members, the Best Point Madisonville staff, students and Cincinnati Arts and Technology Studios personnel voted to identify the elements from posters that best engage and captivate the space's participants. It was a successful event, and we hope to establish CREATE as an annual tradition."
Featured image at top: UC students present poster board ideas. Photo/Aidan Wallace