CMS.594 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Education Technology Studio

Instructor Insights

Instructor Insights

Below, Drs. Joshua Littenberg-Tobias and José A. Ruipérez-Valiente describe various aspects of how they taught CMS.594 Education Technology Studio.

OCW: You administered a welcome survey in the course. Based on the survey results, what aspects of the course were most students interested in?

Joshua Littenberg-Tobias: People came into the class with a range of experiences and technical skills. Some students were EECS majors with strong technical skills, while others brought design skills or experience working in education. We intentionally designed the class so people with a range of backgrounds would be able to participate in the course and develop in the areas in which they were most interested. Based on the results from our welcome survey, students were most interested in learning about designing technology for education, seeing examples of how technology can be used to improve learning, and having the opportunity to quickly make things and try them out. We tried to incorporate all of these elements into our instruction.

OCW: In what ways did the welcome survey inform how you taught the course?

Joshua Littenberg-Tobias: We used the welcome survey to better understand who was participating in our course, their level of technical skill, and their interests. This helped us to form groups for the first unit that balanced different levels of experience and technical skills.

OCW: Why is CMS.594 Education Technology Studio an important course for students interested in issues of equity in education?

José A. Ruipérez-Valiente: The primary reason is that it includes a unit that focuses on Universal Design for Learning, where they will have to apply these principles to design more equitable learning experiences and educational technologies. Additionally, since we allow students to pursue their own interests, it is perfectly possible that they focus on issues of equity in education in all of their mini-projects and the final project, if this is their passion. Thus, they will be able to approach the problem from different perspectives.

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OCW: What role did exit tickets play in the course?

José A. Ruipérez-Valiente: Our main objective is to provide students with a medium to freely communicate with the course staff without having to worry about what others might think. The role exit tickets played was twofold: 1) We were able to track if students were keeping up with the pace of the class or were feeling lost, and 2) Students were able to anonymously ask any questions they had, and I would dedicate the beginning of the following class to sharing responses to those questions with all the class.

OCW: What are teacher practice spaces, and how do students experience them in the course?

Joshua Littenberg-Tobias: Teacher practice spaces are interactive learning experiences, inspired by games and simulations, that allow teachers to practice improvisational decisions in teaching. Practice spaces could incorporate technology or they could be analog card or board games. Students were shown examples of teacher practice spaces from the Teaching Systems Lab. They then had the opportunity to design their own teacher practice spaces and playtest them in class.

"Our goal in implementing project-based learning was to give students freedom to pursue the topics that they are passionate about."
— Dr. José A. Ruipérez-Valiente

OCW: What insights have you gained about facilitating hands-on and project-based courses?

José A. Ruipérez-Valiente: Our goal in implementing project-based learning was to give students freedom to pursue the topics that they are passionate about. I think we succeeded in that objective and most students implemented projects about topics that they were intrinsically motivated to explore. One challenge about this methodology is that if we are not providing a strong background and foundations on methods, that means that the instructor is the one to facilitate and guide students in how to methodologically approach and implement a project, and thus you need instructors experienced in a wide array of methods. This is especially challenging when it comes to technical projects, such as the case of the learning analytics mini-project, where students used numerous technical tools like Tableau, R, or Python, and applied various methods, such as prediction, clustering, or visualization dashboards, among others.


Grade Breakdown

The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 20% Class participation
  • 50% Three mini-projects
  • 30% Final project


Instructors provided grading rubrics for written products and prototypes as well as for oral presentations.

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied



Occasionally (fall semesters)

Student Information


14 students

Breakdown by Major

The students enrolled in the course included a mix of EECS majors and others with backgrounds in design or education.

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Class/Studio Session

Met 1 time per week for 3 hours per session; 14 sessions total; mandatory attendance.

Out of Class

Completion of readings, design journal entries, and projects.

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Instructor Insights