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Digital thinking skills in education


NB Language spoken is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate


We live in fascinating times. Everything you would like to know, from quantum mechanics to chocolate cookies, is only one click away.

Moreover, our rapidly evolving digital world presents opportunities to more efficiently and effectively shape the way we educate people across the lifespan. Hence, not surprisingly, numerous different digital educational programs and ICT applications have been developed over the last decades — ranging from applications to increase reading speed, to fully adaptive learning environments to radically improve children’s reading and math skills.

However, while there are obvious advantages of digital education, there are some important challenges as well. For example, how do you improve digital thinking skills (e.g., computational thinking) of learners? Furthermore, how do you design a digital application (e.g., an educational game) to motivate learners to improve basic and more advanced (digital thinking) skills? Also, how do you evaluate the value of an app in terms of our current knowledge and assumptions about cognitive learning mechanisms?

In this course, we will address these and many other questions that are related to current (and future) digital solutions in education. We will do so by reading theoretical and empirical studies about important themes in digital education (e.g., motivation of students and teachers, adaptive learning, computational thinking, gamification) as well as by providing hands-on experience with designing a digital learning environment with the easy-to-use programming language Scratch. As such, you will gain in-depth knowledge about how to deal with the challenges and opportunities of digital education in our ever-changing world.

Course objectives

  • Acquire knowledge of a variety of digital educational applications and the underlying learning-theoretical assumptions (such as, adaptive training environments, simulation environments, MOOCS etc.).

  • Appreciate the influence — advantages and disadvantages — of the introduction of digital educational tools across a range of contexts.

  • Acquire and practice skills in the critical analysis and evaluation of digital educational tools (knowledge, skills, engagement, motivation).

  • Acquire and practice programming skills. We will use the programming language Scratch (or a highly similar coding environment).

  • Critically evaluate the relevant literature about digital educational tools.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

To ensure that students will attain a thorough knowledge of this emerging field, instruction will take a variety of forms, including lectures, guest speakers, group discussion as well as cooperative learning activities and group assignments.

Assessment method

  • Group assignment: In small groups (2-4 students) you will build your own app with the coding language Scratch(40% of final grade).

  • Student report: Individual report in which you describe and evaluate the app that you designed with your peers (60% of final grade).


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

Study material will consist of recent book chapters as well as primary research articles from leading journals in education, psychology, and cognitive science.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

The exam of this course is a written report. Hence, you do not have to register for an exam in uSis.

Contact information

Contact and questions: dr. Arnout Koornneef.