Research & Centers

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The Center for Technology and School Change helps schools integrate technology into their curricula and daily lives, by planning with schools for the use of technology, educating teachers how to use it, planning curriculum projects that include technology, helping teachers to implement projects, and assessing the effect of technology on schools. The Center is based on the idea that technology will have a large impact on the structure of schooling, as it has in the past, and that schools must plan for the kinds of change they want it to have. We believe that technology should be integrated with curriculum in ways that emphasize active student learning, collaboration, interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving in areas that are meaningful to schools, and conducts site-based research.

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Through an understanding of play, the Games Research Lab seeks to gain knowledge of human cognition, collaboration, media effects, modern culture, creativity, improvisation and other factors within games that have implications for education. Faculty and students involved with the Games Research Lab have broad-ranging interests, and the lab has resources allowing the study of video games, traditional board and card games, role-playing games, games for teaching and learning, "serious" games, media literacy, the psychology of games, and related topics.

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The Harlem Schools Partnership (HSP) for STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a collaborative effort of Teachers College (TC), and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at Columbia University in association with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and with support from the General Electric Foundation.

The mission of the HSP is to improve STEM education by helping schools create rich environments for STEM teaching and learning.  We accomplish this through professional development that strengthens curriculum, increases teacher knowledge of STEM content and teaching practices, diversifies assessment of student learning, and ensures that English Language Learners are successful in STEM.  The intended outcome is that HSP schools will be models of excellence for STEM teaching and learning, and that participating teachers will become leaders and mentors for others at their schools and in the Department of Education.

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As innovators in the fields of both education and technology, students in the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design program (CMLTD) adopt the role of reflective practitioner in their research. As such, the body of research available to and being developed by students in CMLTD is often a hybrid between empirical projects and more traditional forms of published knowledge.

When developing projects, students generally are responding to important ideas or beliefs held by colleagues implicitly in their work. They also accumulate knowledge in their design or implementation to build upon knowledge in their field. In an effort to

  • make implicit knowledge accumulated in the process of design and implementation more explicit to all CMLTD students,
  • develop a shared body of resources for students in CMLTD to benefit from personally and collectively, and
  • offer the community of scholars and developers interested in similar issues.

CMLTD students and affiliates have developed a Web presentation of their own intelligent, innovative, and thought-provoking projects.

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The Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT), uses digital communications technologies to advance innovation in education and society. Rapid change in information technology is reconfiguring social, cultural and intellectual possibilities. University research, K-12 and post-secondary education, the arts, community and political activities, and social exchange are all in transition. ILT is a major element of Columbia University's effort to shape these transitions-transitions that are central to the University's mission and practice. 

ILT takes education in its broadest sense as its primary area of work. In practice, it promotes an intellectually rigorous progressive education accessible to all. To renew progressivism, educators must pose powerful generative questions in cooperative settings; and limitations on the intellectual resources available to students; enable teachers and students to communicate beyond the classroom; and provide advanced tools of analysis, synthesis and simulation. Increasing the interaction of pre-college and higher education is important. The new technologies provide effective support for such novel interactions. The education of the 21st century will feature extensive collaboration among scholars, teachers, university of students, librarians, museum professionals, community organizers, parents, and children of all ages, and these relationships may span great distances and bridge significant cultural divides. 

ILT pursues an integrated program of design, development, implementation, and evaluation. 

  • School-based projects aim to alter the classroom through infrastructure planning and installation, content and curriculum creation, professional development, technical support, and evaluation.
  • Professional development includes workshops on the use of generic and project-specific technologies, seminars on curriculum design and development, and consultations by content experts and instructional technologists.
  • Content projects develop multimedia to support innovation in education, delivering high quality intellectual resources and learning tools to students.
  • Evaluation projects document the impact of programs and the principles of good design, working with groups in the commercial, governmental, non-profit, and educational sectors.
  • Consulting services provide design, development, and strategic analysis for organizations conducting innovative educational projects.
  • An internship program provides individuals with experience in school-based projects, professional development workshops, evaluation and policy studies, and content creation. Technology does not drive educational change, but it conditions educational possibility. Rooted in traditions of liberal education, ILT acts on the technological context to renew established educational traditions.

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All urban students ought to have equitable and just opportunities to develop the kinds of literacies (knowledges, skills, ways of knowing, and discursive practices) necessary to make informed decisions about the science, mathematics, and technology related matters that they encounter in their daily lives.

The Center will pursue four areas of research and development and the interconnections among them.


Developing deep understandings of empowering practices in K-12 SMT education, especially for students from linguistic and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and students living in poverty. 
This research and development is needed to answer key questions such as, How might our current understandings of best practice be challenged by what we know about the lived experiences of urban learners? What kinds of curricular and pedagogies strategies best serve urban learners? How can we improve the school-based achievement of all students in science? The Center use two lines of strategies for developing these key understandings: research on teaching and learning in school-based settings, and research on youth and family lives in school and community-based settings.

Preservice teacher education and the preparation and on-going professional development of SMT teachers in urban school systems. 
How can we better prepare our preservice teachers to productively confront the needs of urban students and to navigate the complex urban school system? How can scientists and educators better work together to prepare outstanding K-12 SMT teachers? How might preservice and inservice teacher educators work together more closely such that teacher professional growth and development over time is enhanced?

Understanding and actualizing relationships between urban communities, schools, and universities. 
Urban communities are diverse and deal with multiple and complex challenges. With the current reform initiative's thrust of science for all, building links between communities and schools is of particular importance in terms of parental involvement, understanding and preparing families to better respond to the growing demands of an increasingly scientific and technological society (especially when such knowledge and resources are often distributed in inequitable ways).

Equity and policy. 
Driving all of our efforts in urban science education should be a commitment to provide a just and equitable education for all students. The equity issues surrounding science education in urban settings are urgent and varied. Urban schools that serve poor populations are understaffed, have few certified math and science teachers and offer few math and science resources. Urban students take longer to graduate, generally score lower on high stakes exams, and drop out of schools at high rates. The solutions to the challenges are not to implement even more high stakes exams and hold students accountable for the failings of society as many cities and states have attempted to do. Rather the solutions reside in documenting, critically analyzing, and acting upon-indeed, changing-the discriminatory practices supported by urban schooling and society.

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Twitter account: @masclab

MASCLab is envisioned as a hub for multimodal and digital scholarship that explores the relationship between media and social change. We support media creation intended to spark social change, curation of and critical engagement with media through the lens of its impact on society, research and scholarship that interrogates how media and society influence each other, multimedia-based research methodologies, and the development of pedagogy that uses media to foster civic engagement.‌

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The Snow Day Learning Lab is the research group and design laboratory of Dr. Nathan Holbert and is located at Teachers College, Columbia University. Our primary goal is to understand how children make sense of their world through play. To that end we make and study games, toys, and technologies that both offer children opportunities to experience and explore personally interesting phenomena, and further our understanding of cognition.

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