Technologies for Creative Learning

Prof. Mitchel Resnick (mres at, E15-020A)
TA: Eric Rosenbaum (ericr at

Course administrator: Stephanie Gayle (sgayle at, E15-020A)

MIT course MAS.714
Fall 2007, Tuesdays 1:00-3:00pm, MIT Media Lab, Room 235


This course explores the design and use of new educational technologies to support creative thinking and learning. It focuses especially on technologies and activities developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, such as Scratch and Crickets. Students will try out new educational technologies, analyze the educational ideas and design principles underlying the technologies, and examine what people learn as they use the technologies.

For the latest assignments and discussions, see the class blog.

September 11

and Overview
An overview of the course themes, schedule, and syllabus, with an introduction to some of the technologies to be studied in the course.
September 18


Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. Basic Books. (Foreword, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 3, Chapter 8)

Resnick, M., and Silverman, B. (2005). Some Reflections on Designing Construction Kits for Kids. Proceedings of Interaction Design and Children conference, Boulder, CO.

September 25

Creative Thinking

Florida, R. (2002). The Rise of the Creative Class. Basic Books. (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2)

Resnick, M. (2007). All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten. Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & Cognition, Washington, DC.

Sawyer, R. Keith (2006). Educating for Innovation. Thinking Skills and Creativity, vol. 1, pp. 41-48.

Fischer, G. (2004). Social Creativity: Turning Barriers into Opportunities for Collaborative Design. Proceedings of the Participatory Design Conference

October 2

Playful Learning


Resnick, M. (2006). Computer as Paintbrush: Technology, Play, and the Creative Society. Play = Learning: How play motivates and enhances children's cognitive and social-emotional growth. Oxford University Press.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. (2003). Einstein Never Used Flash Cards (Chapter 9). Rodale Press.

Zigler, E., Singer, D., & Bishop-Josef, S. (2004). Children's Play (Chapter 1). Zero to Three Press.

Further readings:

Resnick, M., Berg, R., and Eisenberg, M. (2000). Beyond Black Boxes: Bringing Transparency and Aesthetics Back to Scientific Investigation. Journal of the Learning Sciences, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 7-30.

October 9 No Class
October 16 Guest Presenter: Geetha Narayanan
Broadening Participation

Narayanan, G. (2007). A Dangerous But Powerful Idea: Counter Acceleration and Speed with Slowness and Wholeness.

Resnick, M., Rusk, N., and Cooke, S. (1998). The Computer Clubhouse: Technological Fluency in the Inner City. In Schon, D., Sanyal, B., and Mitchell, W. (eds.), High Technology and Low-Income Communities, pp. 266-286. Cambridge: MIT Press.

October 23  

Many Paths, Many Styles


Turkle, S., & Papert, S. (1990). Epistemological Pluralism. Signs, vol. 16, no. 1

Gardner, H. (1998). A Multiplicity of Intelligences. Scientific American.

Further reading:

Turkle, S. (1995). Life on the Screen (Chapter 2).

October 30  
Supporting the Learning Process

Brown, J.S., Collins, A., and Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, vol. 18, no. 1.

Duckworth, E. (1987). The Having of Wonderful Ideas (Chapter 1). Teachers College Press.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education.

Background reading:

Lipscomb, L., Swanson, J., and West, A. (2004). Scaffolding. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology.

November 6

Guest Presenter: Hayes Raffle


Eisenberg, M. (2003). Mindstuff: Educational Technology Beyond the Computer. Convergence.

Raffle, H. (2004). Topobo for Tangible Learning.

Resnick, M. (1998). Technologies for Lifelong Kindergarten. Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 46, no. 4.


* Create a project using the Scratch Sensor Board

* Write a proposal for your final project and post it on the class blog. See description of final project below.

November 13


Powerful Ideas

Papert, S. (2000). What's the big idea: Towards a pedagogy of idea power. IBM Systems Journal, vol. 39, no. 3-4.

Resnick, M. (1996). Beyond the Centralized Mindset. Journal of the Learning Sciences, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-22.

Further reading:

Resnick, M. (1996). Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams. MIT Press.


Download and experiment with StarLogo. The software download includes a collection of sample projects (in a Sample Projects folder within the StarLogo folder). Try the following projects: (1) In the Biology folder: termites, rabbits, slime, (2) In Social Systems folder: traffic (3) In Graphics folder: graphics, (4) In Physics folder: rope

For each of these projects, there is a Web page with background information about the project and suggestions of things to try. Go to , then click on Projects. Each project also has an "Info Window" (under the "Windows" menu in the application), but this information tends not to be as complete as the information on the Web pages.

November 20


Literacy in a Digital World


diSessa, A. (2000). Changing Minds: Computers, Learning, and Literacy (Chapter 1). MIT Press.

Jenkins, H. et al. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. MacArthur Foundation.

Resnick, M. (2001). Closing the Fluency Gap. Communications of the ACM, vol. 44, no. 3.

Further reading:

National Research Council (1999). Being fluent with information technology (Chapters 1-3) [html, pdf].

International Technology Education Association (2000). Standards for Technological Literacy.

November 27


Creating Music

Bamberger, J. (1996). Turning Music Theory on its Ear. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, vol. 1, pp. 33-55.

Weinberg G. (2003) Playpens, Fireflies, and Squeezables: New Musical Instruments for Bridging the Thoughtful and the Joyful. Leonardo Music Journal, vol. 12, pp. 43-51.

Assignment Create a musical composition using Hyperscore
December 4

Creating in Virtual Worlds

[Readings to come]

December 11


Final Project Presentations

Assignment Prepare a poster describing your final project. Students who are working together on the final project can jointly prepare a single poster. During class, you will exhibit your poster for others in the class to read and critique.

Grading will be based one-third on class participation, one-third on contribution to the class blog, and one-third on the final project.

Final Project

For the final project, your assignment is to design and test new features, new support materials, or new activities for one of the technologies discussed in the class -- and to write a "design brief" discussing the motivations, rationale, and principles underlying your design.

You are welcome (in fact, encouraged) to work in groups. If possible, you should test your tool/materials/activities with sample users.

Here is an outline of the key elements of a design brief.

Below are three examples of design briefs. Although these design briefs were written in different contexts, with somewhat different goals, they provide you with a sense of how and what to include in a design brief.

Datagotchi Deep Dive: Report from a design charrette focused on the use of handheld computers for mathematical learning

Development of the I-Mail Prototype: Design of an email prototype for people with mental and/or physical disabilities (by Leo Burd and others)

Interactive Art Construction Tool: Design brief written (by Michael Smith-Welch) for Media Lab class in spring 2003