How does the design of new educational technology change the way kids learn and think? Which aspects of creative thinking and learning can technology support? How do we design systems that reflect our understanding of how we learn? This course explores issues on designing and evaluating technologies that support creativity and learning. The class will cover theories of creativity and learning, implications for design, as well as a survey of new educational technologies such as works in computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL), “digital manipulatives,” and immersive learning environments.

Course requirements


  • 40% class participation (including the assigned presentations)
  • 30% assignments (weekly postings)
  • 30% final project (presentation and paper)

Class Format

This is a seminar course where we take a critical look at technologies that claim to help people engage in creative thinking and learning. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions and share their ideas, as well as leading the discussions. At the beginning of the semester, each student is assigned to lead two topics with one other student partner, throughout the semester. 

Each class consists of:


  • Discussion of the readings: summary of the readings, presented by the assigned student teams, reactions to the paper, discussions of real world examples you have observed or experienced yourself.
  • Implications for design: discuss existing technological tools or educational programs, critique the tools and suggest design improvements, or propose a completely new tool. Explain how your suggested improvements will help the learning process.

The students are encouraged to have a meeting with the instructor during the beginning of the assigned week prior to their presentation to go over the reading material with the instructor.

In addition, each week the students will post their weekly assignments that reflect on their own learning experience. Every week, everybody is expected to post reactions to at least one of the readings, such as how the presented issues and theories relate to your own experience. 

Final Project


Your final project consists of both 1) Research Object and 2) Final Paper. 

1) Research Object

You will design i) new features for one of the technologies discussed in the class OR ii) propose a new system from scratch. This is not a lab course, so you are not required to build a working prototype. Your research object may be communicated through a series of slides, movies, or storyboard sketches. Use whatever medium you find appropriate to communicate your idea. The key is to communicate how your design will help people learn, not how cool the technology may be.

2) Final Paper

Write a ”design brief,” discussing the motivation, rationale, and principles underlying your proposed design. Include discussion about how you might test your tool/materials/activities with possible users. Here is an example of a design brief.