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Four Principles for Designing Powerful Learning That Engages Learners’ Hearts and Minds

Explore and create

Explore and create : Creation lab

Friday, December 4, 2:00–2:50 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Megan Pattenhouse  
Dr. Stefani Pautz Stephenson  

Truly impactful technology use supports learning that is personal and accessible, authentic and challenging, collaborative and connected, and inquisitive and reflective. Learn about a learning-experience design process grounded in these principles. Leave with a project plan and a toolkit for Powerful Learning!

Audience: Teachers, Principals/head teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Topic: Instructional design & delivery
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Purpose: In an age of ubiquitous technology, how do we use technology to drive powerful learning experiences? The purpose of this workshop is to deeply engage educators in an examination and application of Digital Promise’s Powerful Learning principles (Personal and Accessible, Authentic and Challenging, Collaborative, and Connected, and Inquisitive and Reflective). These principles, grounded in decades of learning sciences research, guide the design of learning experiences that contribute to closing the digital learning gap. This session will provide educators with concrete examples of higher-order technology use and support them in the design of a powerful, learner-centered experience. This session will also provide educators with three tools to scaffold their lesson planning and support reflection and continual growth when they return to the classroom.

Objective: As a result of this session, participants will be able to design learning experiences that are personal and accessible, collaborative and connected, authentic and challenging, and inquisitive and reflective.


Part 1
Authentic & Challenging
 The Real World Learning Roadmap
Collaborative & Connected
 Maker Learning

Part 2
Inquisitive & Reflective
 Learner Variability Navigator
Personal & Accessible
 Challenge Based Learning

Supporting research

Supporting Research:
Aceves, T. C., & Orosco, M. J. (2014). Culturally responsive teaching (Document No.
IC-2). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator,
Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website:, T. Rouhani, P., &
Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1. (Jan. – Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42.
Chaiklin, S. (2003). The zone of proximal development in Vygotsky’s analysis of learning and instruction. In A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. S. Ageyev, & S. M. Miller (Eds.), Learning in (pp. 39-64). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press.
Immordino-Yang, M. H., Christodoulou, J. A., & Singh, V. (2012). Rest Is Not Idleness: Implications of the Brain’s Default Mode for Human Development and Education. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(4), 352–364.
Karpicke, J. D., & Roediger III, H. L. (2007). Expanding retrieval practice promotes short-term retention, but equally spaced retrieval enhances long-term retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33(4), 704.
Palincsar, A.S. (1998). Social constructivist perspectives on teaching and learning. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 345–375.
S. Papert, and I. Harel. Situating Constructionism. Constructionism, chapter 1, Ablex Publishing Corporation, Norwood, NJ, (1991)
Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Motivating learning, performance, and persistence: The synergistic effects of intrinsic goal contents and autonomy-supportive contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 246–260.
Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2011). A brief social-belonging intervention improves academic and health outcomes among minority students. Science, 331, 1447–1451. doi:10.1126/science.1198364
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by design .Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Yeager, D. S., & Bundick, M. J. (2009). The role of purposeful work goals in promoting meaning in life and in schoolwork during adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24, 423– 452. doi:10.1177/0743558409336749

More [+]


Megan Pattenhouse, Digital Promise
Dr. Stefani Pautz Stephenson, Digital Promise

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