NESTA Futurelab

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NESTA Futurelab is a UK-based educational innovation research facility that “is helping to transform the way people learn.” NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) has a compelling philosophy of supporting risk-taking and creativity in its approach to innovation. Gads, perfect. Anything is better than conservative creativity.

Their latest newsletter arrived in my Inbox this morning. They always seem to have a number of cool projects in the hopper. They range from reports on research projects to insight/innovation white papers on topics that combine education with mobile technology, creative technology and new scenarios and usage contexts.

Their current crop of research publications and innovation reports cover a few familiar and exciting areas, including some workshop insights. There’s a Future Music workshop summary on ways technology can help developing musicians. An “Insight Paper” on Future TV, with insights on participating in the creation of the TV content for a richer kind of interactivity. Another insight paper is on mobile phones in an educational context, and a few other interesting things.

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Their R&D projects are also quite interesting. Their deployments of the kinds of creative/arts-technology projects you might see at festivals and such all, specifically for use in learning environments. One such project Moovl allows children to draw on a tablet PC then program their drawings to move according to simple physics of mass, elasticity, air resistance and solidity. The research report includes their work with students in the design of the experience — user-centered design.

Why do I blog this? NESTA has a exciting sounding approach to doing research — risk-taking and creativity — and I like those idioms for pretty much most endeavors (except driving on the 405.) I’m also drawn to their approach of creating these “Insight Papers.” I’ve started slowly to create what I referred to as “Research Theme Reports” — white paperish reports that describe a usage context and offer several candidate research questions within those usage contexts as a way to describe work the Mobile and Pervasive Lab could possibly conduct. I also like the way they conduct their research, often amongst the user community. I wonder how the insights, results and artifacts created during research disseminate amongst wider audiences.

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