Joan Mazur ( Gerry Swan (

What is the Digital Learning Design Lab?

An extensive body of criticism exists regarding the failure of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to deliver improvements in student learning and achievement at scale despite the extensive expenditure of time and money on technology-linked educational initiatives (Adelman et al, 2002; Borja, 2006; Cuban, 2001; Cuban, 2006a; 2006b; Hu, 2007; Oppenheimer, 1997). One explanation proposed for the serious underperformance of technology in schools relates to the apparent inability to deeply embed what we know about teaching and learning in the way technologies are applied in classrooms and schools.

In their Keynote Presentation at the Society for Information Technology in Education (SITE) Conference Mishra and Kohler described creativity as being 1) Novel, 2) Effective and 3) Whole (NEW). The third component of the creativity, wholeness, was accompanied by several adjectives that illustrated what was meant by whole. Organic, complex and refined were three of the terms that were used to describe the idea of "whole". One way to think about design and creativity is the ability to create NEW solutions to address contextual classroom issues. Building of the idea of NEWness, creativity is variations of a theme, or an idea tweaked until a new solution is obtained. Collaborating with schools and colleagues in other fields and departments, we will take the expertise available in all levels of the educational community and translate them into tangible solutions.

The major metric for this lab is best summarized by the word impact. Impact will be gauged by penetration of products in to P-20 environments and by the scholarship generated from the work. While seeking extramural funding is an aim of this initiative, dollars secured is not a satisfactory measure for gauging impact on practice. In addition at levels of use and deployment, impact on the fidelity of practice and student learning and engagement will be paramount evaluating products and processes developed in this lab. Currently there are two main initiatives in the DL2 Lab, Digital Game Based Learning and OTIS.

Digital Game Based Learning (DGBL)

The DGBL P-20 initiative integrates core elements of play and gaming with instructional media to provide educators in the P-20 community with relevant and classroom-tested instructional gaming materials and research related to: (1) the various kinds of tools available online including Web 2.0 tools, Massive Multi-User Online Games [MMOGs], Visualization Techniques and Augmented Virtual Reality (AVG), (2) how students use games to problem solve and learn , (3) new roles for teachers and students and, (4) how to combine computer games and learning. A network of school-based research sites will be developed to research and disseminate innovative and effective DGBL practices.

OTIS (Opensource Tools for Instructional Support)

OTIS Online is an ongoing effort to develop and share tools that make learning a more powerful experience. OTIS projects are usually built with free opensource software and liscenced under a General Public Liscence (GPL). Open Portfolio and the CaseMate engine for the Digital Drivers License are the two flagship applications that represent this project, but others are on the way. The goal of these tools is to serve as a catalyst for organizational improvement. The notion of "technology as catalyst" is an apt analogy for the role of information technology in learning in that it is important to remember that catalysts change the rate of a process/reaction rather than the products. Schools are complex organizations where there are many reactants present and technologies that supposed to impact one aspect may also affect other processes leading to unintended consequences. That is why OTIS products are ongoing development projects grown and tested in actual schools.

1. Open source software is open to the end user, making it technically and legally feasible to access and modify the code.

2. Open source software is licensed under a form of copyright that provides the end user with the legal right to alter and redistribute the code.

Code Customization Continuum
Level Description
1 Neither content nor authoring environment is open-source
2 Authoring environment is open-source, but the content is propritary. (e.g. If we developed the Teacher Ed Tools in PHP, but tried to keep how we did it a secret. I call this the coca-cola method. The ingredients are know but how you put them together is not to be shared)
3 Content is open-source but authoring environment (e.g. learner based tools written in flash)
4 Both authoring environment and content are open-source (e.g. Open Portfolio is written in PHP and the source code is available)