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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 the underlying learning-theoretical assumptions digital educational applications.

  • 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. Attendance of the meetings is mandatory.

Assessment method

The final grade will be based on three components:

  • Attendance meetings (additional assignments may apply if students do not attend each meeting) (pass/no pass)

  • 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).
    Each component grade needs to be at least 5.5. Retakes of components are only possible for component grades below 5.5. Grades cannot be carried over to subsequent years.


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.


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap.

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

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

Contact information

Contact and questions: dr. Arnout Koornneef.