Technological Tools for Learning

This course explores the design and use of new technologies in the learning environment (schools, museums, after-school programs, etc.). The underlying philosophy of this course is "constructionism", which states that people learn better when engaged in making and designing their own computational meaningful projects; therefore, we will become designers of technological tools to be used in educational settings with children pre-K to high school and we will become researchers to assess the thinking and learning fostered by the different tools. We will also explore current research and debates regarding educational technologies. Through the semester we will read and discuss materials from a wide variety of sources. We will also become familiar with new technologies ranging from collaborative on-line systems to robotic construction kits, to programming environments for children. The goal of the course is to build both technical expertise as well as theoretical knowledge to be able to choose adequate technology, integrate it into the learning environment and design research studies to evaluate its success or failure.

There are no pre-requisites.


  • Thursdays 9-11:30am, Spring 2010
  • Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development, Curriculum Lab
  • Professor Marina Bers (email)
  • 617-627-4490
  • Office Hour: Mondays 11-12 and by appointment
  • Elist:

Course Requirements

  • Readings and class participation (On-going): All students are expected to do the readings, and to participate in discussions of the readings in class. Readings will be linked from the syllabus. Students are expected to print them out and have them available in a folder. Prof. Bers book, “Blocks to Robots: learning with technology in the Early Childhood Classroom” will be used (Teachers College Press, 2008). This will count for 10% of your grade.
  • Class presentations (On-going): Class time will be organized as discussions, not lectures. To help get discussions started, each session a student will be asked to summarize the readings and describe one question or provocative issue. This will count for 10% of your grade.
  • Mid-term project Photo essay on powerful ideas (Due February 25): Students will work individually. They will create a Photo essay documenting how the children they have worked with during the classroom experience, encountered and struggled with powerful ideas on the technological domain. The photo essays will document children’s learning experiences and will put those in the context of children’s cognitive, personal and social development. This will count for 30% of your grade.
  • Technological fluency scope and sequence project (Due April 1): Students will work in small groups. Each group will develop a plan for a PreK-8 school or after-school environment to promote technological fluency while adhering to the standards studied in class. The plan should take into consideration what students will learn at each developmental level by proposing a scope and sequence of content. In addition, each group will choose a particular segment (PreK-2; 2-4; 5-6;7-8 grade) and will propose a sample pilot project that will illustrate how the particular content is put into practice. This group project will count for 25% of your grade.
  • Final project (Final project presentations April 23). Students will work in pairs. Each pair of students will develop a learning game using the Swinxs platform and will prepare a game scenario and presentation. Games will be played on April 23 in class. This group project will count for 25% of your grade.
Course Schedule