How can we use human-centered design to create educational tools?

The big idea.

While working in the Chilean public school system, I’ve seen classrooms where students are graded purely on their notebooks. It’s difficult to get students to truly engage with the material when all we ask them to do is fill-in-the-blank.

I use a constructionist teaching approach to teach computer science. Students learn to program through projects and experimentation. In my workshops, I show high school students they are capable of learning complex concepts by leading them in various video game-making projects.

I design tools and games that help bring technology to classrooms in Chile.

I wrote two case studies describing the design process for educational games I developed.

  1. Unplugged computational thinking activity flashcards — I designed a series of 10-minute activities that teach computational thinking concepts.
  2. Teaching algorithms with a card game — I designed a card game which teaches students to think like a computer.

I wrote five case studies analyzing curriculum I created and tested in classrooms.

  1. Open-source curriculum for teaching video game design – I designed a 4-class curriculum for introducing students to computational thinking with a video game-making project.
  2. Using programming to teach English as a second language – I designed a project-based, multidisciplinary 8-course project, where students program their own comic books.
  3. Programming for elementary school students — I designed a 3-course curriculum that uses Scratch as a tool to teach English as a second language. I tested the curriculum with 5th graders at a public school in Pichilemu, Chile.
  4. Using programmable robots to teach product design — We used VEX IQ robotics kits to teach English and robotics concurrently.

I wrote one case study, examining how we can use English teachers to bring technology into the classroom.

  1. Empowering English teachers to use Scratch — At the Scratch Al Sur conference in Santiago, I taught a 3-hour workshop for English teachers, who want to use Scratch to teach English and programming in the classroom.

A brief intro to the Chilean education system

Before I began my case studies, I analyzed and visualized publicly available performance data from the Ministry of Education. 

Why should we teach computer science?

Using data from Laborum, Chile’s job postings site, I conducted an analysis of the skill gap within the technology sector here in Chile. Although there is huge demand for computer scientists, I found that the public education system doesn’t produce near enough. My research aims to find ways of encouraging students to pursue careers in STEM.