An App-etite for Education: KCAD and ArtPrize Team Up to Promote Learning Through Digital Media

Posted September 29, 2016 in Student, ArtPrize, Digital Art and Design

During ArtPrize Eight, students from the Digital Media program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) will be putting a number of educational apps they’ve created in class into the hands of their target users. As collaborators in the ArtPrize STEAM Village Learning Lab, the KCAD students will be using these interactive apps to help foster curiosity, observation, and critical thinking in K-12 students as they experience all that ArtPrize Eight has to offer. 

Located at the ArtPrize HUB/HQ, the STEAM Village Learning Lab will feature multiple stations where young people can explore the intersection of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). KCAD students and faculty will lead hands-on demonstrations of educational apps developed in collaboration with K-12 students from West Michigan through the Digital Media program’s Engaging Production Inspiring Classrooms (EPIC) initiative. The EPIC apps will include, among others, Understanding Detroit, which helps users connect Detroit’s history to its present-day challenges; Battling Extinction, which illustrates the cause and effect relationship behind endangered species; and Frenzy: Learning Through Game Design, which frames the act of designing a game as a teaching tool for any subject matter.  

Battling Extinction app(above and below): Screenshots of the Battling Extinction app, created through the KCAD Digital Media program's EPIC initiative. 

Battling Extinction app

Digital Media Assistant Professor Susan Bonner says, “STEAM concepts can seem like they’re hard to approach, but through digital media, we try to reach young users in an entertaining way using animation and humor.”

The KCAD students will also be conducting observational research on the user experiences of K-12 STEAM Village visitors who engage with the EPIC media as well as external media such as Planet3, a digital platform that combines game-based narratives and real-world data to deliver innovative educational experiences; Tilt Brush, a Google-developed tool for creating 3D digital paintings; and, a non-profit website providing cutting-edge computer science resources.

Understanding Detroit app(above and below): Screenshots from the Understanding Detroit app, created through the KCAD Digital Media program's EPIC initiative.Understanding Detroit app

Taking part in STEAM Village in this way gives KCAD students a valuable opportunity to test and hone their creative and communication skills. Bonner says, “During ArtPrize, our students will be doing observational research and reporting on what they see. They’re going to learn from that interaction how to make their media work for students. It’s really important for KCAD students to see how our media relates to people. We want to see if they like it, if it is engaging, if it does the job they want to do.”

Ron Riksen, Interim Dean of the College, adds, “At KCAD, we’re always looking for ways to create things not just for ourselves, but for the world. Taking part in STEAM Village is an opportunity for our Digital Media students to test what they’ve learned, see how their ideas translate into the real world, and enhance the younger generation’s education in the process.”

STEAM Village is located in the ArtPrize Hub and will be open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through October 9, 2016, and educators can register for group sessions through ArtPrize Education Days at

KCAD’s EPIC media are free for use and available at