Our Applied Research activities emerged from curriculum in the Interactive Media programs beginning around 2007. Interactive Media Faculty began to collaborate with companies to bring real-world, technology-based projects into coursework to enhance the experience for students in our programs. It quickly became apparent that involving students in collaborative projects had significant benefits: The students had to work in teams, and find ways to make that work as effectively as possible. The technical and design demands of collaborative projects went significantly beyond the expectations in any single course or “regular” assignment, requiring independent research and problem-solving. The students in general pushed themselves to excel in ways we did not always observe in course work.
The response of student teams who participated in these projects was strongly positive; some identified these projects as being the most significant learning experience in their time at college. The company partners were also extremely positive about the experience of working with students, to the extent that some companies have returned to the team at Fanshawe with new or expanded technical projects to continue the collaborative relationship. Partner companies have also begun recruiting and hiring students who worked on these projects after they graduate.
Reactr is an initiative built by educators, so improving student experience is our primary goal.
The student learning experience is the core of every Reactr project.
Our Applied Research activities emerged from curriculum in the Interactive Media programs beginning around 2007. Interactive Media Faculty began to collaborate with companies to bring real-world, technology-based projects into coursework to enhance the experience for students in our programs. It quickly became apparent that involving students in collaborative
While the “student imperative” is central to Reactr, the team and the College strive to ensure that the projects we undertake fit within the overall Applied Research mandate of the College, and within our role as educational professionals. As a result, our team focuses on short- and long-term projects that look specifically at applications of technology with an educational focus, whether that involves innovative applications of technology in the classroom, or technology/digital media based educational solutions designed for delivery on the Web, the desktop or through App Stores. We actively seek community partners with innovative educational ideas and strategies that our team can help bring to fruition!
In addition to collaborative projects with company partners, the Reactr team works to establish and expand a program of action research that focuses on a range of educational topics, including: Innovative applications of personal technology (smartphones, tablets, laptops, assistive devices) in educational environments; applications of gamification in educational settings; digital media solutions for emerging classroom technologies (e.g., Smartboards, tablets). Please take some time to browse through our Project and Project Archive sections to get a clear idea of the kinds of projects we have undertaken.
Our primary focus is on innovative applications of technology and digital media to educational settings and solutions.
While the “student imperative” is central to Reactr, the team and the College strive to ensure that the projects we undertake fit within the overall Applied Research mandate of the College, and within our role as educational professionals. As a result, our team focuses on short- and long-term projects that look specifically at applications of technology with an educational
The Reactr team partners with selected companies to provide "technical problem solving" on the road to the company bringing a Web or digital media project to market. Neither Reactr nor the College act as ongoing business partners; Intellectual Property (IP) rights remain with the company, and partnership agreements are designed for the needs of a specific project. The collaboration is first and foremost a research partnership, with significant educational integration. Much of the funding for such partnerships is focused on collaboration that will advance the capabilities of the partner company to attract and acquire ongoing capital for projects, hire designers and developers, and thereby grow the digital media sector in Ontario and provide real economic benefits to all stakeholders.
An initial partnership with the Reactr team may be focused on the development of a prototype application to allow the company to demonstrate "proof of concept" for their product, to pursue funding and commercial support that would allow the company partner to move to a level of independent growth in their digital media projects. In some cases, collaborative partnerships do extend over multiple phases of a large project or across different projects with the same partner. As long as a project continues to satisfy the needs of our students and our educational mandate, we are always looking to remain involved with innovative and dynamic companies!
This model also provides structured opportunities for our graduates to move into contract or full-time positions with partner companies, especially where they have already been working on the initial project. Partner companies enjoy access to proven graduates with the skill sets required for further project growth, and who are already familiar with the company and its goals.
Partnerships are undertaken to establish, grow and maintain digital media capacity within our partner companies.
The Reactr team partners with selected companies to provide "technical problem solving" on the road to the company bringing a Web or digital media project to market. Neither Reactr nor the College act as ongoing business partners; Intellectual Property (IP) rights remain with the company, and partnership agreements are designed for the needs of a specific project. The
In the digital media field, constant change is an expected fact of life. But while change overall may typically be "good", we feel that evidence-base change is always better. Because a digital tool or technology is "new" is no assurance that its effects on educational environments and interactions will be positive, or even measurable. Our team strives to structure every collaborative project around the need for systematic evaluation of the measurable effects of the tools and technologies we help to develop and implement.
Efficacy studies that utilize students as subjects, comparing the use of media technologies with traditional content and content delivery, in a structured and measurable way, is a proven and effective means of better isolating the effects of media technologies from other factors, discovering new areas of inquiry and possible enhancements to existing applications, and over time giving company partners increased confidence that their application or product has demonstrable positive outcomes in educational settings. The Reactr team strives to work with our company partners to plan and conduct such trials, and is open to discussing research/efficacy collaborations with other companies who have existing technologies not developed in partnership with Reactr.
Alongside collaborative research and development projects, members of the Reactr team are expected and encouraged to build unique applied research programs in chosen areas of media and technology. Specific research areas are determined in part by the interests and strengths of core team members, while still falling within the overall mandate of media and technology applications in education. As noted elsewhere, these areas currently include gamification, rich media solutions for career education, applications for emerging classroom technology such as Smartboards and tablets, and digital media tools for improving the student experience in higher education.
Reactr is dedicated to growing and maintaining a core program of research in the applications and efficacy of digital media in education.
In the digital media field, constant change is an expected fact of life. But while change overall may typically be "good", we feel that evidence-base change is always better. Because a digital tool or technology is "new" is no assurance that its effects on educational environments and interactions will be positive, or even measurable. Our team strives to structure every collaborative
The faculty and staff on the Reactr team continue to be an essential part of the Interactive Media teaching team and programs at Fanshawe College; all faculty members on the Reactr team continue to teach one or more courses in different programs. This is seen as a necessary element in the overall initiative, as it keeps us in continual, direct contact with students, so that any decisions about the students participating in projects, and how those projects relate to current curriculum, are informed decisions. Specific Reactr projects can also be much better integrated with program and course goals when members of the research team are regularly in the classroom.
The Reactr team also has ongoing contact with the Applied Research Department at Fanshawe College, and accesses their expertise and support for all research projects. The administration and staff and administration of the School of Contemporary Media also provide invaluable support for this initiative at all levels.
The project-specific nature of the work done within Reactr, and the fact that it is tightly integrated with program curriculum, mean that there is necessary (and desirable) ‘fluidity’ within specific project teams.Some faculty who are not a part of the ‘core’ Reactr team will take part in projects in which they have specific interests, knowledge of the company partner and/or significant integration into their particular courses.
As it grows, Reactr is also envisioned to become increasingly inclusive for faculty and students from schools and programs outside of Interactive Media, and the Reactr team also exists to provide support and consultation for other programs within the School of Contemporary Media that may wish to embark on their own applied research partnerships.
So while there are a number of team members listed for each ongoing and completed project, there are core individuals who are involved with each Reactr project.
Applied Research Coordinator
Robert Haaf is the Coordinator for Project Integration in the School of Contemporary Media. In this role, he oversees higher-level project planning, partnership development, applied research grants and other funding opportunities, and is a principal investigator and collaborator on all Reactr projects. Robert also provides technical (coding) support to reactr projects.
Robert's academic background is in areas of communication disorders, assistive technology for communication and psychology/linguistics. Robert has also worked in University and small-company settings to develop a wide range of digital media applications for educational and commercial purposes. In addition to over 20 years' experience in teaching and curriculum development at the University and College level, Robert has a background in basic and applied research, including research design, analysis, and dissemination of research results at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
Primary research interests within reactr include: applications of 'personal' technology (smartphones, tablets) in educational environments; assistive technology in educational environments; digital media applications for emerging classroom technology (e.g., SmartBoards).
Design & UI Coordinator
John Bennett has a background in 2D/3D art and graphic design, in both traditional and digital forms, as well as over eight years of experience in teaching and curriculum development at Fanshawe College. John consults and supervises student teams on overall design and user interface considerations for all reactr projects.
John's strong visual sense and design skills are evident in, and very central to, every reactr project. John also supervises the design, development and use of rich-media components (3D, animation, video) within applicable projects. John's applied research interests lie in usage considerations for UI systems, and their implications in application design and user experience.
Natalia Aguillon has an academic background in Industrial Design and Architecture, and is a graduate of the Interactive Media Design and Production program at Fanshawe. Her training and experience in digital media well suits her central role as Project and Production Manager for all ongoing reactr projects.
Natalia's background and interests focus her applied research on innovative uses of digital media and interactive informational applications in educational systems, and how Web and Mobile applications can lead to an improved student experience in post-secondary environments.