Design a Learning App Concept (Fast!)

By Jeff Bergin

In this fast-paced, interactive session, participants will engage in a learner-centered design process to conceptualize, design, and test their own learning app. The presenters will take participants through a five-step design process that incorporates learning problem exploration and analysis; learning sciences application; prototyping; and user testing. This process is based on user-centered design and design-based research methods. Participants will have a deeper understanding of learning design and they will be able to adopt or adapt this design model for use in their own settings. All participants will leave the session with a concept for their own learning application.

Learning Objectives

  • Apply a design model and design thinking in the learning design process.
  • Incorporate research on learning in your design practice, including concepts such as motivation, self-regulation, and feedback.
  • Co-design your own concept for a learning app with learning designers and learners.

Using Empathetic Design Thinking to Fuel Your Learning Experience Designs

By Erin Scully and Kinta Montilus

As the world of work continues to evolve and 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity remain vital differentiators for competitive career development opportunities, learners must be prepared to take personal responsibility for their learning process and outcomes. In order to support this focus on career readiness, learning designs must move beyond a focus on knowledge acquisition to transferrable skill development no matter the content focus. This session will focus on leveraging the design thinking process to inform learner-centered experiences that encourage and support effective learning strategy development and use to inform ongoing professional skill development.

In this session we will:
1. Define design thinking
2. Discover how learner empathy informs learning design
3. Demonstrate a shift in learning design concepting from a focus on content to a focus on learner needs, wants and professional outcomes including scaffolding professional skill development.
4. Practice with a brief hands-on approach aligning learner needs and wants to evidence-based design concepts using empathy practices.

At the conclusion of this session, attendees will be prepared to continue to learn about and apply design thinking practices to learning experience design. Attendees will also be invited to use their new skills to become increasingly more confident in more efficiently and effectively understanding learner needs and using that information to inform impactful curricular designs.

Level Up Your Instruction: Creative Approaches to Designing Classroom Games

By Camille Chelsey and Tarida Anantachai

Studies have shown that students typically require multiple exposures to material before learning and retention take place, yet instruction librarians typically find themselves working within the constraints of one-shot interactions with students.  Faced with the typical constraint of one-shot information literacy sessions, academic librarians have embraced this challenge, seeking creative methods for incorporating active learning into their classrooms in ways that are both pedagogically sound, as well as engaging for students.  The usage of gaming and gamification is one method that has the potential to provide librarians with inventive, powerful, and flexible new approaches to reimagining their instruction.

Game design can often seem intimidating, however, in this workshop, the presenters propose to make game design more accessible by breaking the process down into concrete, manageable steps, sparking ideas, inspiration, and dialogue. Using principles rooted in cognitive constructivism and backwards design, the presenters have developed or refined high-impact, flexible games to tackle a range of subjects and issues such as citations, academic integrity, and library orientations.  These have included games utilizing open source or free tools such as Instagram and Twine, an interactive storytelling tool, and games modeled after smartphone apps, e.g., an Instagram-based scavenger hunt and a Twine-based Choose Your Own Adventure game.    We will also discuss “low tech” approaches such as paper scavenger hunts, board games, and powerpoint-based games.  Attendees will walk away with the beginning stages of a game tailored to their Library, institutional goals, constituent populations, and resources.

The presenters will break their workshop into several parts:

–Theory: Overview of best practices and tips for game design in library instruction, based on the literature and the presenters’ own experiences

–Practice: The presenters will briefly discuss some of the games they have created, popular free and open source tools  and give the audience a chance to play one of their games and critique it.

–Create: The presenters will walk attendees through several exercises intended to facilitate the creation of their own games, including an exercise to use backwards design and the Framework to generate learning outcomes for their potential games.

As a result of this session, attendees will be able to:

–Articulate best practices for designing and assessing pedagogically sound games.

–Adapt presented ideas and recommendations in order to customize our games or use the tools discussed to create new games at one’s home institution

Creating Short Educational Videos: A Streamlined Process for Beginners

By Katelyn Lemay

With the increased popularity of the flipped classroom as of late, multimedia content, specifically video, is becoming a standard part of the classroom experience. According to a 2015 whitepaper from SAGE, 68% of students watch videos as part of their coursework and 79% of students voluntarily watch videos (not assigned by the instructor) to enhance their understanding of a topic. Similarly, a 2016 survey of teachers, instructional designers, and other education professionals by Kaltura showed that 93% feel video has a positive impact on student satisfaction, while 88% feel video boosts student achievement levels.

Though students expect video to be a part of their learning experience, they admit to having short attention spans. The SAGE study found that students on average do not watch a single video for more than 10 minutes, and they tend to multitask (i.e., use a second browser window or screen) while a video plays. At the same time, instructors are hesitant to create video content because there is the perception that one must be a professional video producer in order to do so. They fear investing a lot of time and resources into something that will be ultimately ignored by students.

This workshop outlines a workflow for creating simple yet effective PowerPoint + narration videos. Participants learn basic principles of multimedia design and digital storytelling techniques, and learn to use that knowledge to present academic content in comprehensible, compelling short-form videos. The workshop also provides a survey of free and low-cost tools for recording, editing, and publishing media. A quick demonstration will be followed by hands-on practice with recording narration and editing a video. Finally, we will explore possibilities for video in the classroom beyond flipped lectures including assistance for non-native speakers and students with disabilities, student projects, and more.

Crowd-Sourced Legal Database: Use Technology to Think Like a Lawyer

Presented by: Mariam Morshedi

Subscript, a nonprofit organization, has recently launched a website to provide a means of free legal education to the general public.  The site is a “wiki” model, which, like Wikipedia, allows the general public to enter information about laws, regulations and cases.  This site has the potential to be a free and entirely publicly-sourced legal database.

This workshop will teach the audience about the issues of using an open-source model for a subject like law, which must be very accurate.  The presenters, members of Subscript, will outline the organization’s start-up efforts (i.e. adding startup content and gaining a certain amount of viewership so the site will catch-on).  The audience will learn how the site’s format and fields for content-entry ensure correctness of the information entered.

Barriers to information access are very strong in the legal field.  This results from the cost of entry into the legal profession, barriers to legal certification, the history of legal jargon, and other socio-economic factors.  We have the technology today to break-down some of these barriers by encouraging non-lawyers to educate themselves about law and giving them the tools traditionally retained by the legal elite.   This presentation will show how an open source format can encourage the public to “learn by doing.”

Using Knowledge Games: Helping Students Co-Create Knowledge through Games

Presented by: Karen Schrier

Can games teach us knowledge we already know and also create new knowledge? Can games enable students to participate in knowledge-making—even in the K-12 classroom?

In this proposed workshop, we will play, discuss, and critique a number of games, such as Foldit, Reverse the Odds, EteRNA, and Happy Moths–all games that enable large-scale human problem solving and contribute new knowledge. These types of games, which I call Knowledge Games, help everyday players create new insights through a game, such as how proteins fold.

Knowledge Games are particularly relevant to the classroom—whether K-12 or college—because they enable players to directly create knowledge. K-12 teachers have involved their students in citizen science projects; for example, helping to categorize galaxies in Galaxy Zoo, or sift through sand to find fossils in Sharkfinder. Can classrooms also incorporate games in the same way?

Participants of this workshop will get a basic understanding of Knowledge Games, their purpose and goals, and their limits and potentials. We will discuss ways to incorporate the games into the classroom, and begin to discuss the open questions, challenges, and opportunities that remain for these types of games. For example, what are the privacy issues? How can we trust data collected from students? Are certain types of knowledge-related questions more relevant to games (scientific versus social/humanistic?)? Will students be as excited about these types of games as ones on their consoles at home? What can we do to motivate students to contribute to solving real-world problems through games? Are there ways of designing and implementing Knowledge Games that are particularly effective?

Participants will leave with:

(1) An understanding of Knowledge Games

(2) Useful tips on how to use these types of games in the classroom

(3) Strategies on managing the limits, drawbacks, and challenges of these games.

‘RICH’ Learning: A Challenge-Based Learning Approach to Learning Design Processes

Presented by: Maaike Bouwmeester

Students intending to work in professional design fields (e.g. architecture, educational design, engineering, product design) require a rich understanding of the multifaceted, team-based design processes they are most likely to encounter in their professions. The RICH (Relevance, Inquiry and Challenge in Higher-Ed) learning approach addresses this need by leveraging inquiry-based learning pedagogy, combined with easy to use learning tools to document and present project progress as well as provide timely feedback, transparency and opportunities for reflection. Through this process, students learn to integrate contrasting (and sometimes contradictory) examples as well as gain an appreciation for designing, implementing and evaluating ideas in varied real world contexts.

Session will include:

  • Overview: Become acquainted with the guiding principles behind the RICH learning approach, the research that supports this approach, how the approach may be adapted, examples of student work, common pitfalls and tips to prevent them, role of the instructor, technology, etc.
  • Q&A: questions, reactions, audience experience with constructivist and challenge based learning
  • Activity: Purpose 1) To gain some hands on experience and 2) explore how you might adapt this approach for your needs
  • Final reflections/Q&A
  • All session participants will be invited to become a member of the online resource and learning community around the RICH learning approach

The Negotiated Syllabus: Involving Students in Course Design

Presented by: Dr. Colleen S. Harris-Keith

We are all familiar with having more material we want to cover than we can possibly fit into a 16-week (or less) syllabus. According to constructivist learning theory, involving students in developing their own learning environments contributes to greater information retention. Most educational research and practice focuses on developing constructivist applications for particular projects and assignments within a course, allowing students to control the products of their learning. This session, however, focuses on applying constructivist learning theory as faculty develop a syllabus for a course, and how faculty can involve their students in the course design through the option of discussing and choosing readings and assignments from the many options appropriate for a course. After briefly situating the practice in constructivist learning theory, this session explores the experience of applying theory to actual course development, focusing on one example of an upper-division interdisciplinary general education course. Throughout the session, attendees will be asked to contribute their own ideas, examples, and concerns as we explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging students with a negotiated syllabus.



The structure of the session will be as a presentation that solicits audience feedback regularly. The general outline for the session is:

  • Short review of constructivist learning principles (5 min)

  • Q/A: Where are attendees already using these principles? (5 min)

  • The Idea of the Negotiated Syllabus – What Does It Look Like (5-7 min)

  • Audience Reaction (3-5)

  • The Negotiated Syllabus in Practice (Freedom & Justice Studies 340 GenEd Class) (10 min) / Opportunities and Pitfalls (5-7 min)

  • Audience Reflection

  • Q&A Session (10 min)


Outcomes/Takeaways:  Attendees will:

  1. Learn what constructivist principles for course design are, and learn ways to use them in designing their own course syllabus and assignments

  2. Learn how to prime their existing courses for student participation in syllabus-negotiation on the first day of class

  3. Explore their own existing syllabi and assignments for increased opportunities to involve students in course design.



Paper Prototyping Games for Engaged Investigations and Fun in any Subject

Presented by: Teresa Slobuski and James Morgan

Empower student learning thru game development! Games allow designers and players to examine and explore systems; prototyping allows designers to explore rules and play. This session will look at how to apply iterative design to ANY SUBJECT, empowering students of all ages as learners. Paper prototyping lets players collaboratively find the fun while examining a system or an idea. Even games that ultimately will be developed digitally can benefit from the ease and speed of investigating rules, mechanics, and themes that paper prototypes provide. Paper prototyping can be used in a class for students to strengthen and demonstrate their knowledge or understanding of a topic by developing a game around it. It can also be used by educators interested in developing game or game-like activities for their students. Are you a history teacher that wants students to learn more about the black death? Develop a game or guide your students in building a game to understand it. Need an engaging way to teach math concepts? Your first step is paper prototyping!

The majority of the session’s time will be focused on breaking up into groups to design paper prototypes. The speakers will provide a variety of materials for participants to use to create the prototypes. The session will end with a series of 5-10 minutes play times with 5 minutes for designers to debrief and adjust. The session will also include a discussion of general game design principles. We will review various themes and mechanics and discuss how to match the core or goal of the game to the game play. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of game design, the experiences of rapid prototyping, and digital evidence of the game(s) developed during the session.

Keywords: games and learning, learning from failure, new literacies


Making Musical Interfaces with MaKey MaKey and Scratch

Presented By: Adam Patrick Bell

Keywords: Maker Space, Repurposing Tech, Usability & Accessibility

The purpose of this session is to provide participants with hands-on opportunities to collaboratively explore and create new ways to interact with sound and music by designing their own “instruments” or “interfaces.” To this end, the session will introduce participants to the MaKey MaKey (, a user-friendly plug and play prototyping device and demonstrate how it pairs well with the sound scripts in Scratch. Participants needn’t be intimated if they’ve never heard of or encountered a MaKey MaKey or Scratch, only a few minutes of orientation is required to get familiar enough with the hardware (MaKey MaKey) and software (Scratch) to commence a meaningful and engaging design experience. Combined, the MaKey MaKey and Scratch afford participants the opportunity to invent new musical instruments using conductive household materials. The advantage of making new music instruments is that no one is an expert, leveling the musical playing field and forcing learners to think critically about the accessibility of making sounds and music. Thus, the session is intended for those who identify as “musicians,” “non musicians,” and every category in between. The session will be primarily hands-on and interactive, giving participants ample time to design their own instruments.