Exploring—and designing—new approaches to technology in education.

EDU322/CS322: Digital Technologies and Learning Communities

As digital technologies become part of our social fabric, more and more educators are asking questions about how to successfully integrate them into the classroom. Robbin Chapman, associate provost, academic director of diversity & inclusion, and lecturer in the Education Department, has created a new interdisciplinary seminar to support the development of thoughtful and responsive young educators with this in mind. 

Chapman aims to merge the intellectual traditions of the liberal arts with design practices used outside the academy and thus encourage students to imagine new technologies for learning. She engages students in both problem-setting and problem-solving within the context of each student’s experience. “My vision was to seed the course with a mix of STEM and humanities perspectives, and have them tackle sticky learning technology issues. Throw in malleable digital technologies, stand back, and watch our students create amazing learning and teaching spaces. I’m captivated by the possibilities,” she says.

During one project, Chapman challenged her class to reimagine how students might learn in public spaces on Wellesley’s campus. One team suggested using augmented reality technologies and interactive wall surfaces to teach diners in Bates Dining Hall computer programming concepts; another sought to recreate Lake Waban as a classroom by employing digital technologies to engage with the underwater life of the lake; still others proposed integrating virtual and physical spaces in the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center to help students connect.

Chapman also integrates the expertise of guest lecturers into her class. For example, Wellesley's Assistant Professor of Anthropology Adam van Arsdale shared his teaching experience from the first WellesleyX course. Other guests come from MIT and Olin College, and at the end of the semester, the class will Skype with a representative from IBM Kenya, who will address culturally-based approaches to technology policy.

Chapman encourages her students to think intentionally about equity and diversity in relation to educational work; to recast technology as a material to use to imagine, design, and build; and throughout it all, to be fearless in trying new things. “I want to thank my students for their hard work and risk taking,” Chapman says. “I can’t wait to teach this class again!”

I've been particularly interested in how we can better design technology to enhance the world of education, but this course has taught me how to use what's out there already.

—Veronica Lin ’15, computer science & economics