A talk by Melanie West (Co-founder of Tiz Media Foundation and Originator of MindRap)

  • Date: 04/06/2006

Melanie West (Co-founder of Tiz Media Foundation and Originator of MindRap)


University of British Columbia


MindRap uses an innovative learning process that involves technology, music, art, performing, writing, collaboration, culture, self-esteem, and mentoring. High school students learn how to create animated multimedia modules that include their own artwork, music, and stories to teach a basic math or science skill. Cultural information and achievements are used to motivate and inspire both the students who are creating the modules as well as those who are the intended audience. Throughout the process the students are guided by professional writers, artists, musicians, and educators. The student's creations are then published on a website portal that can be accessed by teachers and students all the over the world. The target of the after school program is at-risk inner city students. We will discuss this project and the various branches of work that have sprouted from its core.


Co-founder of Tiz Media Foundation and originator of MindRap, Melanie has over 20 years of professional experience. She spent 10 years as chief engineer of an experimental multimedia studio at Bell Laboratories. Her main focus was to create experiential prototypes and simulations of potential new services and products for AT&T. These prototypes were used in detailed quantitative experiments on people who would potentially use these new services. During that time Melanie took a leading role on many critical projects. She also had ten years experience in the music business as a recording engineer in New York City where she received a Platinum album for her work with the Talking Heads. Because of her interest in children, she spent a considerable amount of her own time training teachers in the Plainfield, NJ school system on the use of the Internet, helping them to integrate Internet applications into their curriculum. She also spent two years as an instructor at the Plainfield Science Center, which was a community center set up in an underprivileged neighbourhood that focused on getting the neighbourhood students interested in Science. Melanie holds an undergraduate degree in Music, Electrical Engineering and Communications, from Rutgers University, and a Masters degree in Interactive Telecommunications from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. In 2005 she was elected as a Macromedia Educational Leader.