A New Academia – Experiential Learning at MTA: A mirror that tells people what to wear and a pillow that plays soothing music are only two examples of technological innovations created by MTA students for people with disabilities, as part of an experiential course at the MTA School of Computer Science.
In an era of fast-developing knowledge, students’ futures are dependent not only on their learning skills, but also on their ability to apply what they learn in a competitive job market.
As part of MTA’s vision to establish a New Academia, three trajectories were developed: Theory, Practice and Community. This model takes experiential learning into account as an inseparable part of the academic studies. Through applied work that accompanies the theoretical studies in the classroom, students put to practice their newly-learned skills in the community, and so develop a higher level of critical thinking, while accumulating new applicable tools required integrating successfully in the workforce.
The experiential course is unique in its integration of theory and practice; students who are provided with the right tools, will be the ones to progress in a steady career faster, and will be able to adopt new practices that are developed in the future – thus maintaining a point of advantage in the competitive job market.
Throughout the academic year of 2018-2019, 29 experiential courses will take place under all of MTA’s schools. One such course is “Intangible Interfaces” at the School of Computer Science.
Students who have attended the course in the past, under the teaching of Michal Brill and Benny Shapira, have developed various technological solutions for people with mental and developmental disabilities, in cooperation with Beit Issie Shapiro - Israel’s leading institution and provider of innovative therapies and state-of-the-art services for children and adults across the entire range of disabilities.
The students’ developments are intended to assist people with mental and developmental disabilities in their daily lives. In addition to the technological aspects of development, which include coding and electronics, students learn how to design new interactions via digital technology.
Among the products that were developed by the students were a special emergency button, which sends a text message by pressing on a special emoji; a mirror that gives instruction on what clothing is suitable to the weather; and doll that is operated by clapping; a musical instrument that assists with daily chores; a pillow that plays soothing music, and more.