Master’s in Learning, Design and Technology

As a student in the Learning, Design, and Technology Master’s Degree program at Stanford University, I studied how technology can enhance education. 

Master’s Project

Together with fellow cohort member Melody Pak, I worked on Lifely, a website (planwithlifely.com) designed to help people in their late 20s and early 30s prepare for and have end-of-life planning conversations with their parents. Lifely, like its name suggests, focuses on how people want to live, not just on their death.

Melody and I leveraged the expertise of professionals at Stanford hospital (Dr. Peter Pompei, Dr. Josef Hannah, Rabbi Lori Klein, and Dr. Andre Kumar) as well as the literature on difficult conversations in our project.

The Lifely website includes a number of interactive exercises with animated videos and opportunities to write and reflect. The website also provides stories of how people from a variety of cultures have had end-of-life planning conversations within their own families.

We created earlier prototypes of Lifely in the d.media: Designing Media that Matters course, as well as in the Engineering Education and Online Learning course.

Internships

My first internship was at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, where I worked with Education Programs Director Diane Holaday to plan and run activities at First Fridays (Stanford students) and Second Sundays (for families and community members). I learned about the importance of designing art-making projects that are engaging for a variety of ages and simple enough to stand alone–which is important on Second Sundays, which can draw upwards of 1,000 attendees. This internship cemented my interest in working at a museum in an educational role in the future.

My second internship was at the Stanford d.school (formally the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design). There, I helped the K12 Lab team with the hiring process for three different positions. Our focus was on creating a hiring process that would promote diversity, inclusion, and equity, and I helped promote the job listings, develop interview protocols, interview candidates, and weigh in on final decisions. Those were all opportunities I enjoyed and would be happy to participate in again in the future. The position was also a chance to learn more about the K12 Lab’s vision for the future of education and technology. The d.school was one of the places I felt most at home during my time at Stanford, and I was honored to get to help them choose who will keep their incredible work going.

Leading Disruptive Innovation Projects


A screenshot of the website for “Smile Connection,” a team-generated idea for a dental truck that provides cleanings regardless of insurance.  For each cleaning purchased, a cleaning is donated to someone in need.

In d.leadership: Leading Disruptive Innovation, my classmate Kenneth and I taught a team of Delta Dental employees to “empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test” in pursuit of their goal: to improve uninsured Americans’ oral health. Our team test-launched two ideas—a family oral health activity kit and a dental truck that follows a “buy one, give one” model for cleanings. 

They’re now using their new skills in their day-to-day work to boost their creativity, and one team member is even leading design thinking workshops in the company.

This experience honed my understanding of how and when to use specific design thinking tools, as well as the challenges they can pose, including the need to break routines, brainstorm beyond what seems feasible, and launch less-than-perfect ideas. Getting our team to meet these challenges required being committed and willing to participate while leaving final decisions and ownership to the team. It meant pushing our team to do increasingly innovative work. The experience reinforced how much I enjoy facilitating adult workshops. It was a joy to build relationships and see our team become confident, excited design thinkers and leaders.

Analogous visits help design thinkers see how other industries accomplish a goal. We were curious how the Exploratorium creates engaging educational experiences that change how people see the world. The team used their insights to create the oral health activity kit. (L-R) Myself, classmate Kenneth, and Delta Dental Employees Eva, Kimberly, Anslyn, Kai, and Brandy.

Child Development & New Technologies Project

In Professor Brigid Barron’s Child Development & New Technologies course, my group designed a game prototype that we named StoryCrafters. In the family interviews we conducted, we learned that parents often want to limit their children’s screen time. We also discovered that while the children of the parents we interviewed are sometimes allowed to use technology during their down time, the families we interviewed rarely use technology together.

As a result, we wanted to create a game that would allow the family to use technology together without relying heavily on constantly looking at a screen. We also wanted to create a game that would promote literacy and creativity, important development goals for the parents to whom we spoke.

The result was StoryCrafters. The game would allow players to take turns telling a piece of a story, and each player would choose a constraint for the next player–a vocabulary word to incorporate, a sound effect to make, a connecting word to use (like then), or a character’s feelings or motivations to integrate. These constraints are based on research about the skills needed to tell more sophisticated stories. The tablet app would also give users the opportunity to record, edit, and save their story.

Sample screenshots of the StoryCrafters app prototype. This design was created by a group including myself, Eszter Meszaros, Isaac Gillespie, and Mitchell So.

Coursework

Autumn Coursework:

  • Understanding Learning Environments
  • Design Thinking Studio at the Stanford d.school
  • Technology for Learners
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Learning, Design and Technology Seminar

Winter Coursework:

  • d.leadership: leading disruptive innovation
  • d.media: designing media that matters
  • Child Development and New Technologies
  • Learning, Design and Technology Seminar

Spring Coursework:

  • From Play to Innovation
  • Engineering Education and Online Learning
  • From the Portfolio to the Professional
  • Learning, Design and Technology Seminar

Summer Coursework:

  • Learning, Design and Technology Seminar