Learning Design for Science & Technology

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Green Tech comes to life through project-driven science learning, learner-focused web platforms, and content support video casting professional engineers and designers as “explainers.” Tackling new academic content areas always carries with it the exciting challenge of learner engagement. Green Tech illustrates a multi-modal approach – through lessons and projects, platforms, and media – that situates learners in an active, participatory context to explore and apply understanding to the issue of carbon footprint.

Building Learning Culture Through Narrative

Engaging learners and educators to mobilize around a shared vision for what great learning can look like requires the smart design of learning narratives. Great stories inspire communities to embrace a culture for what learning programs set out to achieve. The piece below was one that I wrote and produced in 2012 to help MOUSE’s learning community do just that. I designed the media to help youth identify their interests and work as being part of something bigger, but produced it with a Maker aesthetic to underpin the broader goal of empowering learners and educators to use accessible resources that help them construct great learning on their own.

Produced and Designed: Marc Lesser
Production Management and Camera: Alex Flemming
Art: Maggie Muldoon
Edited: Lizzie Theis

Web-based Learning Environments for Young Tinkerers

At MOUSE, much of my work is to lead the design and development of online content and the environments in which they’re delivered to youth and educators. The goal of this work has been to better realize new spaces online that serve different learners and different types of learning, engaging youth in environments online that inspire them to make learning part of their identity. Check out a few screenshots of our work to date, and see Mentions for some recent press on being selected a winning project for this year’s HASTAC Digital Media and Learning Competition for online badging system designs.


A Passion to Make “Making” Accessible

In 2007/2008 I had the good fortune to work on two separate projects that would turn out to be crucial in shaping my values and goals as a designer and educator. For me, perhaps the most important goal of evolving an accessible maker culture is the opportunity to help learners in all contexts to use low-cost hardware and software to make meaning, follow passions, and discover new interests.

CineTouch is an immersive video environment designed for large-format touchscreens. The purpose of the tool is to support therapists and classroom instructors working with students facing language impairment in special education contexts. This design project and its associated research and analysis have been performed in collaboration with one New Jersey school specializing in the treatment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The CineTouch prototype tool is a DVD-based hypermedia application compatible with typical school-based operating systems. Users navigate video environments along with educators for the purpose of building social language skills and transferring language concepts to novel environments.

* Read the Final Thesis and Design Document

See CineTouch during formative design evaluation

In Ali’s Eyeswas a collaboration during coursework at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in Assistive and Adaptive Technologies. How can adapted video devices serve as a tool for both teaching and self-expression? A graduate design project in Assistive Technology made possible with partners at Seton Pediatric Center, NYC. The declining cost of media-making tools (e.g., camcorders, still cameras, personal computers) creates greater viability for amateurs to harness the digital medium as a mode for personal expression, introspective therapy, and preserving perspectives. These artifacts – videos, photographic journals, and other documentary works of art – have great potential to serve two populations: individuals living with chronic illness and injuries, and the professionals and family members who work to eliminate disease, preserve a standard of living, and support those individuals.

Meet Ali, age 19. Ali suffered from severe Muscular Dystrophy limiting his mobility to minor finger movements and neck control. Like all teens, Ali had many interests that made up his identity. Among them, storytelling. Working alongside physical and occupational therapists at Elizabeth Seton, the goal was to hack low-cost hardware and design an adapted cradle, housing, and modified controller to give Ali new ability to tell stories. Most importantly, his own.


See Ali’s first footage.