About

Aims

I love connecting with educators all over the world. I know that good teaching and learning starts with an innovative educator who can use a variety of different tools to engage kids in a love of learning, and reach all learners where they are.

I want to connect with other educators to build real-world curricular experiences for kids that involve coding and programming real projects that make a real difference for real people.

My work and experience has centered around strategies for how effective leaders create policy and lead organizations through a process of institutional change, particularly those that already perceive themselves as excellent and that have a longstanding tradition and history. 

Background

I have over twenty-five years of teaching experience at elementary, middle, and high school levels and have a strong pedagogical knowledge as well as a design-oriented background.

I am a frequent speaker at conferences nationwide for my work on game dynamics and game-based learning and have presented at ISTE, ATLIS, SXSWedu, NCCE, the ETT iPad Summit, the iPad Summit in Beijing, and Alan November's BLC.

I help companies and organizations support computer science teachers. I worked on Apple's Everyone Can Code curriculum and have developed computer science curricula for Microsoft using MakeCode, micro:bits, and Minecraft. I have also consulted for the College Board on assessment of performance tasks for the new AP Computer Science Principles course.

In the fall of 2017 I am on sabbatical working as a research fellow at the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. I will also be teaching a section of CS50 Computer Science at Harvard University.

I have a Master's Degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard, and I travel nationwide to present at conferences and workshops to educators on using technology in positive ways to support learning. I am an Apple Distinguished Educator, and I was awarded the Educator Award for 2015 by the National Center for Women in Technology, for my work with middle school girls on coding and design.

My experience as a learner in the MIT Launching Innovation in Schools course


My interests center around five major trends and issues:

1. Coding and Computer Science

2. Gaming and Gamification

3. Makerspaces and Constructionist Learning

4. Project Based Learning

5. Wearable Technology and Artificial Intuition


What follows are six artifacts demonstrating examples of my work in each of these areas.

1. GO!* Code (*Girls Only)

One of my major goals at my school has been to increase the number and diversity of students taking computer science classes. I have built game design into the curriculum and incorporated a design-first approach to coding that starts with solving a problem or filling a need. This approach was very successful, doubling enrollment in computer science classes in each of the past four years. 

Artifact 1: Scenes from a GO! Code workshop (2 min.)

This past year, my wife and I ran a series of weekend workshops specifically for girls called GO! Code. We presented about our approach, and the success of the girls’ coding workshops, at SXSWEdu 2015. I am thrilled that we are able to take a successful approach to teaching coding — incorporating coding with humanities and the arts — and share it outside the school to students who would not otherwise have exposure to coding education.


2. Gaming and Gamification

I have been teaching about games for years. I am fascinated by puzzle games, and with the popularity of mobile devices and the App Store, there has been an explosion of creative games from independent developers. Consequently, people are playing more games than ever. The best games provide a structured framework for solving difficult problems. Often puzzles are scaffolded by a series of hints and clues, and many games use a plot structure to constrain your exploration in productive ways.

Games do not have to involve technology. I am particularly inspired by BreakoutEdu, a project that was started by Mark Hammons. These “immersive learning games” represent a novel way to engage students through the popular “escape game” model, where people are locked in a room and must solve a series of puzzles in order to escape before the time runs out. Hammond and his team have developed a classroom-friendly model that involves unlocking a series of locks using physical and Internet-based clues hidden around the classroom.


Hammons has also made it possible for educators to develop their own puzzles and submit them to the site for inclusion in their games database. The materials for each game are inexpensive: just some various types of locks, a few locking boxes, and a flash drive. What is clever and creative is the plot structure that is overlaid on the series of puzzles. There is generally a theme (Mad Scientist, Codebreaking, Time Warp) and sometimes a video intro that “sets the stage” by engaging kids’ imagination and challenging them to complete the task. The experience is very motivating and there is generally enough for everyone to do.

It can be scary for teachers because they don’t know if students will solve the puzzles in time. Every game is different. However, this can also be a benefit because the value is in the interactions that students have wth one another, and the ways in which they learn to collaborate on solving a difficult task. Students are not always successful, and that is okay.

We run Breakout escape games regularly at my school with students of all ages. Some students are even creating their own games and hope to submit them to the BreakoutEdu site so that other students can play them.


3. Makerspaces and Micro:bits 

I worked with my wife on creating a computer science curriculum for Microsoft featuring the Micro:bit, a little programmable device that has 25 LEDs and can be programmed in a block-based coding language called MakeCode. It has all sorts of inputs such as physical buttons, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, and a compass.

The micro:bit sits right at the intersection of coding, makerspaces, and design thinking, all big initiatives at my school. It is the perfect device for bringing all kinds of creative projects to life.

 

Leading a Micro:bits seminar for Harvard undergraduates.


4. Project-Based Learning

I have focused on using design thinking and challenge-based learning in my classroom to create apps that help other people by solving a problem or filling a need.

We need to make the case at the highest levels that the most authentic test of kids’ knowledge and abilities is to involve them in a task that has real significance.


5. Wearable Technology and Artificial Intuition


This is an excerpt from a talk I have been giving on wearable technology and the challenges that management and ownership of data will present in schools. There are also big opportunities to improve learning using data and predictive analysis and we need to be prepared for it.

I have also been working closely with a couple of 9th grade girls at our school who are designing a set of wearable wristbands that will communicate with each other and teach kids coding skills.

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© Douglas Kiang 2017