AUT celebrated the official launch of the APP LAB – a cross disciplinary group of staff and students exploring new ways of learning through technology and new media.

This creative and digitally capable cluster – including academics, researchers, designers and developers – apply instructional design, user meaning-making and emerging learning technologies to experimental app design and development.

The goal is to produce the best possible learning outcomes in meaningful ways.
In practice, they make really cool apps.

Mike Hutcheson, Adjunct Professor of Marketing & Advertising at AUT and former Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi, has worked with the APP LAB to develop the Periodic Table of Innovation – something he describes as ‘an MBA in a box’.

His proprietary app form forms the basis of a new cross-faculty elective paper for third-year students called Practical Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Run under the auspices of the Vice Chancellor’s Office, EFTS remain with the faculty in which students have enrolled.

“I believe this is the future of education – imagine an AUT ESchool across the country,” says Hutcheson.

The APP LAB was formed in collaboration between AUT’s Centre for Learning & Teaching (CfLAT), the Faculty of Māori & Indigenous Development (Te Ara Poutama) and the School of Art & Design.

The directors are Professor Pare Keiha (chair), Dr Claudio Aguayo (research & development), Dr Andrew Denton (academic pathways & networks) and Hohepa Spooner (operations).

Professor Keiha is the Pro Vice Chancellor of Māori Advancement, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning & Teaching and Dean of Te Ara Poutama.

“The APP LAB provides an exciting opportunity to reform and refresh the curriculum through a coalition of the willing and likeminded,” he says.

“We aim to recruit and retain the very best of our students. Importantly, a Māori fingerprint can be found on the majority of AUT apps produced to date.”

Dr Aguayo, Senior Researcher at CfLAT, says the marriage of technology and learning opens the door for organic and adaptable research. It also bridges the gap between research and practice.

The APP LAB is expected to be a major contributor to the University in terms of research income, as well as providing opportunities for students to work on digital solutions to real world problems.

Dr Denton, Associate Head of School (Postgraduate & International) at the School of Art & Design, sees the initiative as ‘the realisation of an ideological dream’.

The School of Art & Design’s entire postgraduate programme of study will be available as apps by the end of the year.

“Our students spend a lot of time sitting in shared spaces with laptops and headphones. We want to move beyond standard content management and create socially engaged learning experiences in and out of the classroom,” he says.

Spooner, a lecturer in multimedia digital technology who divides his time between Te Ara Poutama and CfLAT, will continue to lend his unique blend of innovation, creativity and spark to the initiative.

If you are interested in developing an app, email the APP LAB.

Download the app.