Energy Innovation Center, site of Thrival's Ed Tech Day. Photo by Brian Cohen.

The launch of a new Sprout Fund program caps a daylong showcase of the region’s most innovative ed-tech programs at Thrival Festival‘s Ed Tech Day at the Energy Innovation Center next Wednesday, September 23rd.

The Ed Tech Refinery, which will be formally announced at the event, will be led by The Sprout Fund.

“It is a program that will provide resources to startup companies in the ed-tech space by connecting them with nonprofit service providers that can provide them with free services,”says Ryan Coon, program officer at The Sprout Fund.

Ed-tech startups can benefit from partnerships with local schools or libraries for user testing, or with professional development agencies to create teacher workshops, Coon adds. “These are all really important, valuable services that ed-tech companies need in their early stages but often, being resource-strapped, they might not have the time or finances to devote to them.

“The Ed Tech Refinery fills that gap.”

The free, daylong Ed Tech event features sessions hosted by local education innovators, including Schell Games, Thrill Mill, and Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center and CREATE Lab.

There will also be a presentation by the U.S. Department of Education, which will look at the current landscape of education technology and learning innovation.

The Department of Education seminar, which is part of a larger national tour, will also discuss the department’s new guide for developing digital tools and apps for learning.

“It’s essentially a compendium of tips and tricks and resources that local app developers and others can use to make sure they’re designing their product not only to high standards, but so that they’re aligned with the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education,” says Dustin Stiver, program officer at The Sprout Fund.

While Coon doesn’t believe there is a “Pittsburgh model” for education technology, he does say that a Pittsburgh model exists for what he calls learning innovation.

“For the past several years, Sprout has been working with hundreds of local organizations, mostly in the education sector . . . to generate some new ideas and new thinking and approaches to learning and teaching, and the local education technology companies have been involved in that work to a certain extent.

“As a community this network we’ve built – the Remake Learning Network – really has become a model for spreading innovative learning practices throughout the region, and we hope a model for other regions as well. The ed-tech aspects – this is an opportunity to expand for us.”

“We’re excited to partner with Thrill Mill and the Thrival Festival to help create more connections between the existing members of the Remake Learning network and the burgeoning ed-tech scene in Pittsburgh,” adds Stiver.

Here is a quick look at the day’s events. A full schedule and description of the day’s events can be found at the Remake Learning website. All events take place at the Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Avenue.

Games in Education: Improving Teaching and Learning Outcomes Through Gamification

9:30 – 10:30 a.m. Presented by Schell Games

Tactile Tech: New Approaches to Experiential Education

10:45 – 11:45 a.m. Presented by Thrill Mill

Transforming Game Jams

1 – 1:45 p.m. Presented by CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center

Advancing Tech Fluency: How the CREATE Lab at CMU supports Ed Tech

2 – 2:45 p.m. Presented by CMU’s CREATE Lab

U.S. Department of Education Ed Tech Developer’s Guide Tour Stop in Pittsburgh

3 – 4:30 p.m. Presented by The Sprout Fund and Remake Learning

Ed Tech Refinery Happy Hour

4:30 – 6 p.m. Presented by The Sprout Fund and Remake Learning

NEXTpittsburgh is the official media sponsor of Ed Tech Day at Thrival 2015.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.