What is TIER-ED?

TIER-ED is a community of interdisciplinary researchers and designers at Illinois developing cutting-edge applications of new technologies to critical issues in education and learning across the lifespan. The initiative is based in the College of Education, but it draws on expertise from across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in designing, developing, and assessing these technologies. Effective, impactful, and accessible education remains a critical challenge of the 21st century. While we live at the cusp of a technological revolution, where ubiquitous sensors, artificial intelligence, “big data”, and augmented reality are transforming many aspects of how we live and work, longstanding challenges in education persist: offering access to all students and all types of learners, finding optimal ways to motivate students and create new identities around critical areas of knowledge, and supporting pedagogical practices that are adaptive and culturally sensitive. There is a tremendous opportunity to apply the landscape of emerging technologies to these challenges in education, and TIER-ED is invested in taking advantage of this possibility.

Educational technology has the capacity to empower Americans, of all ages and backgrounds, living in rural America or urban America, to become true lifelong learners, enabling them to obtain, keep, and create the jobs of the future... 
-Winning the Education Future" Report from the U.S. Department of Education

We seek innovative solutions that

  • facilitate cognitive and emotional engagement across academic disciplines
  • addresses issues of equity and access for diverse learners
  • prepare teachers to work effectively in an emerging landscape of digital tools

Our research and design platforms include

  • augmented and virtual reality environments that enable new ways to interact with learning content
  • data analytics methods that allow for personalizing learning environments and understanding issues of access and equity
  • multi-touch and other interfaces that support collaborative learning
  • online learning platforms that transform the way that students interact with others and receive feedback from the instructor



TIER-ED Speaker Series: Dr. Jim Slotta

Tuesday, April 23
Time: 10:00-11:30 
Place: Room 210A, College of Education

TIER-ED Speaker Series had its first speaker Dr. Jim Slotta in April 2019.  Dr. Slotta is Professor and President’s Chair in Knowledge Technologies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He has developed a pedagogical model known as Knowledge Community and Inquiry (KCI), in which students investigate a phenomenon or issue within project-based learning (PBL) context. His talk was titled “Designing for Collective Inquiry: Theoretical Models, Smart Classrooms, Embedded Phenomena and Other Adventures”. The talk presented ten years' progress in developing and researching KCI model at the University of Toronto. KCI fits within a broader theoretical area of learning communities, in which students work collectively to advance their ideas and share resources. Dr. Slotta’s work has explored the most effective designs for collective inquiry, with an emphasis on the learning sciences construct of scripting and orchestration. In KCI, the teacher is responsible for orchestration, but shares the load with the technology environment and the physical learning space. Dr. Slotta reviewed theory and highlighted his efforts to formally articulate scripts, and scaffold the orchestration of collaborative and collective inquiry activities.