MSTU 5197 & 5199: Beyond Bits & Atoms, Class and Lab (Spring 2021)
MSTU 5197/5199: Beyond Bits & Atoms teaches students to design, build, and critique constructionist educational technologies. BB&A consists of a theory-oriented class (MSTU 5199) and a practice-focused lab (MSTU 5197); students are required to enroll in both. The theory class is focused on answering three questions:

    How does learning work?
    How does schooling work?
    How can technology affect learning and schooling?

Students explore constructivism, constructionism, and critical pedagogy, as well as embodied and situated cognition, the role of media and tools, representations and models in learning, and theories of technology design. These ideas are applied to case studies of schools and educational technologies, and to the design of a new educational technology.

In the lab, students are immersed in a constructionist learning environment where they reflect on their own learning processes as they learn to use technologies for prototyping and digital fabrication. Students use these tools to design and build a constructionist educational technology, especially focusing on equity, and culturally diverse populations.

It was previously offered at TC in 2019 and 2020 and at the Stanford Graduate School of Education for 9 years.

Class website:

2020 Class & Lab Syllabus:
(the 2021 syllabus will be very similar, except for the online lab replacing the physical lab)

Enrollment in both class and lab is mandatory for all students, unless for very, very special circumstances (email us if that is your case).

Enrollment for this course is based on the instructor's approval -- it doesn't matter if you were able to enroll through the system. Students interested in taking the course should fill out this form by Dec 11th, 2020 (11:59pm NYC time). Prospective students will be notified whether we can guarantee them enrollment by Dec 14th, 2020. After Dec 14th, if there is space in the course, we will accept students from the waitlist.
Email *
Your name *
Your TC / Columbia UNI
Country and City in which you will be while taking the class *
Your academic program and year *
Ex: Undergraduate (with major), MS in ME; PhD in Education, 3rd year
Your website, portfolio, Github, etc. (optional)
Can you take both the theory class (Wed 10-11.40am) and the lab (Wed; 12.40-2.40pm)? Students are required to take both the class and the lab. Please answer honestly. *
While taking the class, what time will 10AM NYC time be in YOUR LOCAL time zone?
What is your motivation for taking this class? *
This is important for your admission to the class (in 200 words or less)
How important is it for you to take the class this semester? *
Do you plan to use this class for a degree requirement? *
What is your skill level in the following? *
Prior skill level does not affect admission priority.
No experience
Electronics & microcontrollers
2d or 3d design software
Wood shop
Sewing & textiles
Digital fabrication (laser cutter; 3d printer; cnc)
User research in design
Graphic design
Web design
Repairing broken things
Working with children
What experience do you have teaching children, working in schools, with pedagogical theory, or designing educational technologies? *
Prior experience does not affect admission priority.
If you were asked to buy materials for the class such as robotics boards, electronics, craft materials, would you know where to buy them locally in your region? (materials would be paid by Teachers College)
This does does not affect admission priority.
Clear selection
If you answered yes to the last question, please list websites or names of stores in your region that would offer all or some of these types of materials.
This does does not affect admission priority.
If you have any special circumstances we should know about, you may describe them below. *
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