It seems like Ted Prawat was always destined to work in education – his father is a professor and chairperson of counseling, educational psychology and special education in the College of Education at Michigan State University, and his mother was a classroom teacher for 15 years, so he grew up in a community of teaching and learning.
But it wasn’t until Prawat was the first resident artist and art teacher for a new experimental dual-language immersion school in Beijing, China for four years that he found his true passion: technology and education.
Prawat was given the chance to write the art curriculum for the school, called 3e, which stands for explore, experiment, express – based on the central premise that: “Art is Imagination.” 3e represents a language acquisition-learning model of education where students spend half their day immersed in an English-speaking classroom and the other half of the day in a Mandarin-speaking classroom.
“I found that I enjoy curriculum design, and at 3e with students from over 25 different countries, with a wide range of language backgrounds, I first saw how technology can be a great equalizer in the classroom.”
After teaching in Beijing, Prawat moved back to Michigan where he was a Curriculum Specialist at Michigan State University. At this time, he discovered his interest in educational game design.
So, Prawat began to delve into the art of designing and building games. He took classes and talked with faculty members at Michigan State about educational games.
“The goal of educational game design is to create a game that is both educative and engaging,” he said.
Prawat, who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Art Education from Miami University in Ohio and his Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Indiana University, also began his own company Time For Art Studio while at Michigan State. He built and designed his own game to teach middle school-level students fun facts about contemporary Chinese culture. In this past year, he was a consultant on a National Institute of Health funded grant to create games and curricula with the University of Montana in the Center for Environmental Health Sciences.
Prawat believes that idea-based learning with curriculum design is the future of educational game design.
In August, Prawat will move from his home state of Michigan to Maine to work at Thomas College as an Assistant Professor of Education and the Education Design Center Director for the Center for Innovation in Education.
“I’ve always been drawn to vibrant ideas for improving education from a teacher and student perspective. I’m excited about working at Thomas because this is a place where education is going to be re-shaped, and I like the idea that Thomas College is very proactive and visionary in its understanding and thinking about how to reshape education and learning.”
Prawat is excited to bring different forms of technology, including games, to the Center for Innovation in Education and to work with both new and current faculty members at Thomas College, focusing on proficiency-based learning and STEAM education. Prawat says what he likes most about the Center is that it’s application – not just theory.
He is excited to move to Maine and get started in his new position.
“I’m appreciative of the people that have brought me to Thomas College, and I’m looking forward to working with them and the students. It is an honor to be given this opportunity.”