Design Course

EDUC 3900 - 2: Design of Learning Environments
Prof. Pratim Sengupta
Thursdays, 9 - 12

What is this course about? 

The goal of this course is to introduce you to various approaches for the design of learning environments in formal and informal settings. We will explore how the practice of design is tied to the target domain, the representational infrastructure (including the technological infrastructure), assumptions about and understanding of the intended audience, and the multiple contexts in which learning takes place. In short, this course is a journey into the systematic complexity of educational design.

There are two particular slants to this course. The first slant stems from my goal to support your preparation as future scholars in the Learning Sciences. I consider the divide between "practitioners" and "scholars” to be detrimental to learning and professional growth. This means that I will consider you as researchers and practitioners at the same time, and will expect you to engage in learning about challenging ideas by way of research. This often means that you will have to negotiate the unknown - there are no "correct" answers in design. Taking informed chances will be rewarded. The second slant stems from the practice-driven character of design itself. This means that this is a practice-driven course, and much of your learning will happen in the form of engaging in the actual process of design. 

The "outcome" of these two slants is that your assessment in this course will be based on a research project that you will develop either individually or in a group from the beginning of this course. This project can be tied to your dissertation project, or can be decided in consultation with the me. 

The format of this course will be:

  • Class discussions based on weekly written memos: We will engage in a discussion of key issues to be voted by you based on your weekly memos.
  • Design talks and design studio: Throughout the course, we will invite guest speakers to talk about relevant design issues, and  we will also organize several design studio sessions to engage in actual design work.
Intended audience
  • PhD students in Learning Sciences and Computer Science
  • Masters students
How will you be graded?
  • Participation and weekly memos: 20%
  • Design Proposal: 10%
  • Design Prototype: 20%
  • Final Paper: 30%
  • Final Design Demo: 20%
Themes covered in this course
  • Innovation and design
  • Play and tinkering as productive modes of learning
  • Constructionism and supporting students' learning by building
  • Designing generative technologies - Programming Languages and Video Games 
  • Culturally responsive pedagogy
  • Designing for museums
  • Designing for science education