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Thesis Capstone Project

MA, Digital Media Design for Learning

The thesis capstone project is a requirement of all candidates for the Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL) MA. Students develop the thesis capstone in the course EDCT-GE 2095, Research in Educational Communication and Technology.

The thesis capstone is a culminating project for which graduating students are expected to integrate and apply what they have learned through previous academic work and field experiences, with faculty supervision. These projects may be "new," relative to work done in previous courses; or they may be projects started in a previous course that become significantly expanded and enhanced for the thesis capstone.

Thesis capstone students meet in class as a group weekly, reporting on the progress of their projects, discussing their research, and screening prototype media for peer and faculty critique and suggestions. At the conclusion of the semester, students present their thesis capstone projects to the DMDL community at the Master of Arts Colloquium.

Thesis Capstone Projects

Science in Serious Play

Aybuke Gul Turker

Aybuke Gul Turker

Science in Serious Play reveals the imaginative side of science learning through a serious action physics game that teaches geometrical optics to middle and high school students. This research is focused on creating alternative game based learning environments in STEM learning for middle and high school students based on cognitive information processing theory. For this sample project, I have designed a serious action physics tablet game to teach geometrical optics to students, ages between 13 to 16 old. There are two main goals of the study. One is to increase the number of students who choose STEM related majors in college to meet the nation’s need in STEM workforce and the other is raising the tomorrow’s generation in a way that they can understand science and technology and make wise decision.

Social Campaigns for Social Change

Ashley Burks

Ashley Burks

Social Campaigns for Social Change is a youth program for African American and Hispanic high school students to create campaigns about issues they experience in their community. Students analyze their identity and community, and choose a social issue to solve. They develop the solution and use promotional skills to promote the solution. Throughout the program students learn digital design, social media marketing and event planning. They choose one of these areas as a specialization for the second semester, and at the end of the yearlong program students present their solution to the community by creating a social media campaign using original images/videos and presenting it at a community event.

I’m designing an online resource for SCSC facilitators and youth that provide training and facilitation tools, a curriculum and an online learning community. The youth program is grounded in participatory action research. The online resource incorporates elements from cognitive theory for multimedia learning and social learning theory.

Silver Garden

EuiJin Hwang

EuiJin Hwang

Silver Garden is an online career-based mentoring community for both Korean seniors, over 60, and young adults, 20-30. Korea is one of the fastest aging countries in the world, and Korean seniors are facing significant social issues. Even though their life expectancy has increased, and the percentage of highly educated seniors are increasing, they have much to contend with finding and living a meaningful life after retiring. Severe depression and a high rate of suicide can be caused due to feeling emptiness; one of key issues. Silver Garden will give seniors chances to make full use of their knowledge and priceless experiences for Korean young adults who are looking for mentors. Through the Silver Garden, Korean seniors will ease their social isolation, prevent depression, and learn basic mentoring skills. Also, young adults will get to meet great mentors who are familiar with their situations and help them find better solutions to their problems.


Stella Kim

Stella Kim

Dori: No one would doubt children's safety is important. Children should be safe from injuries, medication, boating, bullying and violence, to name a few. Parents and educators are always concerned how best to learn and educate children about it. There are ample information about safe behavior, but teaching children act upon instruction is difficult. How do we maximize the effectiveness of our safety education? Some research proved that putting them in situation and practice proved desirable outcome. But how do parents can simulate and role play when it comes to topics like abduction or sexual abuse? Dori is a project aimed at assisting Korean children and parents, because the number of latch key children has reached a million, and the crime rates against children has been increasing. The program will present a web interactive cartoon and embedded mini game. It is based on a fictional adventure story about a girl detective who set out on a mission to find a missing friend. The learner will play the detective and solve the problem designed to learn how to make smart choices and correctively behave in danger, by working together with their parents.

Match My Face!

Marcelo Esteban Espinoza Bravo

Marcelo Esteban Espinoza Bravo

Match my face! is an application, which combines play in virtual and real settings in order to reduce communication issues that children with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome (AS) from K–4, ages 5-8 have to overcome in their school and family environment.

In this regard, Match my face! attempts to provide gaming features based on observing, matching, mimicking, and reflecting about facial expressions. The goal is foster communication and cooperation among individuals who socializes with the HFA or AS child in order to improve their ability to recognize facial expressions and emotions in context.

Train Up Your Mind

Yi Yan

Yi Yan

Train Up Your Mind: Many seniors face the age-related cognitive problems, and experience a loss of cognitive skills and abilities to varying degrees. Just like the body needs physical exercise to keep fit and healthy, the brain also needs exercises to stay active and healthy. My project Train Up Your Mind can stimulate the brain and positively develop many of our cognitive skills, including focusing, memorizing, processing of information, and knowledge. The overall goal of Train Up Your Mind is to help seniors maintain and improve their cognitive skills through the attention, focus, and memory control capability training games, thus to prevent the Semantic Dementia.


Madison Kinnard

Madison Kinnard

FOREST (Females Obtaining Rationality and Eliminating Sad Thoughts) is a web-based computer game for females ages 14-19 with mild to moderate depression. Its primary goal is to reduce the negative symptoms of depression through cognitive therapy and game-based learning. It is my hope that with FOREST, females will become equipped with the skills necessary to tackle adulthood depression-free.

WHY? First, depression is the most common mental disorder among adolescents between the ages of 14 and 19 and a major contributing factor in adolescent suicide. Next, while depression affects both men and women, more women are diagnosed with depression in any given year, and the risk for suicide attempts is higher in women than in men. Finally, the lifetime prevalence of clinical depression in females is 1.5 to 3 times that in males, beginning at mid-puberty and persisting through the mid-50s.

GO Quest: A Museum Mobile App for Teens

Corwyn SuCorwyn Su

GO Quest: Middle school students in the United State are poorly served by most cultural history/heritage museums, which are considered as primary informal learning resources for all levels of K-12 students. However, these museums have great potential to ameliorate cross-cultural awareness and foster young adolescents’ conceptual/abstract thinking skills towards comprehending concepts in depth. These are much needed skills for this age group and typically difficult to teach in a traditional classroom setting.

My project is designed to enhance the potential of museums to provide cross-cultural experiential education and to exercise young adolescents’ cognitive thinking skills towards interpreting culture-related topics in depth. It will allow the museum curators to load the exhibition content into a mobile device based application and to convert an adult-centered exhibition into a individualized and meaningful learning environment for middle school students. Four parts are included: An intro video with a central topic, a mission that asks students to locate selected exhibits, an online workshop of creating storyboards with group discussion, and an optional after-visited project.

GUNA Multiplication Game

Anugya NiraulaAnugya Niraula

GUNA Multiplication Game: In the past, people learned mathematics in traditional ways. Schools and teachers did not have interesting approaches, ideas or games to make students understand in easy and convincing way. My learners are elementary school kids in Nepal, aged 7-9 years old. The name of my game is GUNA (multiplication in Nepali/ Sanskrit). My goal is to make students understand mathematical concepts, in this case multiplication, using more efficient strategies; teaching visually using repetitive addition. Students would be a visual learner and they would develop their skill of visualization in solving mathematical problems. The highest level of problem in the game will be to solve something involving 12 times some single digit number. Students will learn calculations in a meaningful way and be an active constructor of knowledge. Lastly, students will also develop positive attitudes towards mathematics and reduce the fear of failure and error.


J. Shepard RamsayJ. Shepard Ramsay

ONEIROS is a card game designed to provide an introduction to computational thinking for young people ages 8-11. Computational thinking is a fairly fundamental skill (involving understanding how systems work, algorithms, and abstraction) that everyone should have in their problem solving toolkit. However, it is not being taught in schools in any real capacity. Oneiros is an attempt to decouple computational thinking from computer science (one is usually taught in the context of the other, however they are not the same thing) as well as surface many of the computational elements that already exist in many card games, while simultaneously being fun and engaging.

Chinese Traveler

Tianyu YangTianyu Yang

Chinese Traveler is a website that intends to assist 11 to 14 years-old second-generation Chinese Americans to decrease their cultural identity confusions, and then construct positive self-positioning, have a better understanding of their families, rebuild opinions of Chinese immigrants’ and Chinese cultures. Based on analysis of these teenagers’ education atmosphere, culture backgrounds and family condition, most of the regular school educations and family educations seem not to pay too much attention on or take efficient methods to this cultural confusion. The article intends to design a student friendly historical website to help these teenagers to renew their cultural identities. Chinese Traveler includes knowledge, game and share sections. Knowledge is to introduce Chinese American immigration history; game will provide historical adventure games; and share can create a social networking space to communicate learning experience and cultural identity problems.

Learning Ninjas Network

Laura GattoLaura Gatto

Learning Ninjas Network is a two prong design solution that offers professional development opportunities for teachers, and provides enhanced support resources for educators to effectively integrate and implement technology and game-based learning pedagogy in the classroom.

This online platform will serve as a high quality gateway for educators to collaborate, reflect and share their knowledge with one another and build a personal learning community both inside and outside the schoolyard. Using a scaffolded instructional design, the platform offers effective teacher-centered learning materials that are rooted in “a learn by doing” constructivist approach. I believe that through this approach, educators become better prepared to use and incorporate technology-embedded instruction and strategies for game-based learning, improving student learning and engagement.


Sharon GurelSharon Gurel

WEClip is an application designed for adolescents from different cultural background with the goal to enhance multicultural learning through teaching and learning songs. In WEClip, participants are both coaches and singers. As coaches, they need to represent their cultural background and teach a song in their mother’s tongue. As singers, they learn how to sing songs in foreign languages and get the exposure to different melodies, rhythms, and sounds. The process of teaching and learning is done by using video and web affordances with some gamification elements. Originally, WEClip was envisioned as a tool to create interaction between Arab and Jewish youth in Israel, but the tool is multinational and multicultural.

Cooking Mate

Nawamas SakornwimonNawamas Sakornwimon

Cooking Mate is an iOS mobile application designed for young adults who are living on a tight budget, but strive to maintain a good quality of life by having healthy and delicious meals. They can successfully learn how to cook by engaging in highly interactive features, such as, learning games, simulation, visual and audio guidance, and social interaction. The learning design is based on discovery learning model, and situated learning theory, in which learners will be learning by doing in the context and also immersed in the community of practice.


Alvaro OlsenAlvaro Olsen

MindUI is a web based toolkit for the research and analysis of affective learning. These tools can be used to collect, visualize and correlate learner's affective information. In addition, a model for adaptive learning environments is applied to a learning environment as a Proof of Concept.


Anisha SridharAnisha Sridhar

CounterStrike is a narratively driven hybrid print and online experience which seeks to evoke empathy, teach users to identify behaviours that constitute street harassment and practice by-stander intervention strategies in a safe space. It also seeks to spark self-reflection and critical thought by asking users to choose counter-arguments that disprove commonly held attitudes and beliefs around street and public harassment in India; and inviting users to contribute and discuss their own experiences and attitudes about street and public harassment.

"Kinect" family play for school readiness

Yiyao FuYiyao Fu

"Kinect" family play for school readiness is an educational Xbox Kinect game designed to engage 3-6 year old children and their parents in an educational environment that fosters school readiness. The learning activities include action rhyming with multilingual nursery rhymes. Children play under the guidance of a parent or caregiver.


Rocio Almanza-GuillenRocio Almanza-Guillen

KnittEd is a web app to increase self-esteem through the exercise of creativity and problem solving skills among Mexican girls 12-15 years old.


Chava WernickChava Wernick

ACTIVaide is a digital supplement to typical therapy, aims to help therapists and teachers in engaging students with special needs in their therapy and/or in skill-building exercises. It provides an interactive, hands-on experience focused on four different skill sets: fine motor, organizational, attention, and speech and language. Exercises use attractive technology and provide immediate feedback to users using graphics and sounds. It is also a mobile tool that allows the therapist to monitor the user’s progress, store notes, and assign and track “homework” for the exercises. It was built under the design guidelines of Keller’s ARCS model and Bandura’s Social Learning ARRMs model, as well as under the Blended Learning, Multimedia Learning, and Social Learning theories.

Understanding MOOCs: A Literature Review

Remberto JimenezRemberto Jimenez

Understanding MOOCs: A Literature Review: MOOCs, or massive online open courses, have emerged as the current platform that some believe will revolutionize the field of education. For others, it is the latest distance-learning medium that has emerged. In some quarters, it is something entirely different from any distance-learning platform that has come before. Although MOOCs have only been around since 2008, there is much debate on the potential of MOOCs and the disruptive affect that it is having in higher education. The purpose of this paper is to examine current MOOC literature and identify MOOC characteristics, benefits, and problematics. The first part of this paper examines the history of distance learning. The second part of the paper examines the origins of MOOCs, MOOC characteristics and the MOOC providers found in the literature. The third part of this paper focuses on the problematics, discourse and future research recommendations.

Milk Allergy Match

Keith GrigolettoKeith Grigoletto

Milk Allergy Match: An innovation of the historically popular tile-match genre, Milk Allergy Match is an iPad game that challenges adult caregivers to match safe-food selections for milk-allergic children. It’s fun, fast, and a great learning tool for the population that has grown up with technology. This population, coined “digital natives” by Marc Prensky, expects twitch speed and fast cycles of learning. Milk Allergy Match delivers on that expectation yet provides the means for expanded learning. Safe selections are rewarded with points, but all selections provide education through immediate feedback of “safe” or “unsafe.” For slightly deeper learning, players can tap on a corresponding agent. For still greater opportunity for meaning, learners can save the names of questionable foods to a reminder album for later study. Social media outlets, also available, encourage collaboration with like-minded learners. Milk Allergy Match is principally guided by Adult Learning Theory, and Motivation Theory to emphasize user control in learning a subject of great relevance.

Cow’s milk allergy remains the most common food allergy in children. Caregivers struggle relentlessly to avoid a reaction, which often shapes a household into a confused, complicated, and chaotic environment. Milk Allergy Match, with its low-barrier to entry; fast, relevant learning cycles; and fun, motivational mechanics can add relief.

It's something breakthrough and extraordinary for parents and equivalent caregivers living in the dark and mysterious world of milk allergy. Building awareness of safe-food selections, sharing learned content, and elevating vigilance: that’s Milk Allergy Match!

Improving Literacy Outcomes for Indigenous Australians

Jorge SantiagoJorge Santiago

Improving Literacy Outcomes for Indigenous Australians:An investigative look at the role of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for improving literacy outcomes for Indigenous Australian primary students. A case study of past, present and future teaching and learning initiatives in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. A look at the holistic role ICTs can play in bringing culture, history and language together to address basic literacy outcomes both inside and outside of the classroom. The importance of culturally responsive teaching and Aboriginal Pedagogy in ICT initiatives to address basic literacy outcomes for Indigenous learners.

In Real Life Vocabulary Application

Greg Scott KinseyGreg Scott Kinsey

In Real Life Vocabulary Application: The way adults currently study vocabulary for second language acquisition does not suit the needs of the learner. The In Real Life Vocabulary Application teaches students vocabulary where they would use it. Using a GPS map, learners will learn words as they walk around their actual world and take pictures and video of the meanings of those words in order to create personal experiences and narratives associated with those words. The words are then reviewed in the type of areas they were learned in and then used in other applications where they are reminded of their personal experiences with the media associated.

Valise: A Digital Portfolio Learning Environment

Jen SanMiguelJen SanMiguel

Valise: A Digital Portfolio Learning Environment: Valise is a digital portfolio tablet application and learning environment intended to develop and promote critical and reflective thinking skills in undergraduate students by encouraging them to analyze, synthesize and evaluate their learning over time and across subjects. The application draws on the affordances of mobile technology and social networking to further engage the student and to promote anytime, anywhere learning and reflection . Valise is meant to be institutionally supported and serve as a complement to in-class learning. Students will be able to use their portfolios to demonstrate evidence of learning to advisers, instructors, parents and employers. The application also provides tools for teachers for both instructional purposes and professional reflection.

ResilientMe! An Interactive Narrative

Keren DavisKeren Davis

ResilientMe! An Interactive Narrative: ResilientMe! is a web-based interactive narrative that aims to cultivate the resilience skills of self-regulation, and emotional intelligence in children ages seven to ten. ResilientMe! is a cross between a game and a storybook that tasks the user with a top-secret mission to help program a human-like robot to feel and act like a human child. The narrative will facilitate the user's understanding of the inter-connectivity between thoughts, emotions, and actions, and the role the three play in academic and life success. By programming, and controlling the robot, users will increase their own emotional intelligence, and practice self-regulation with the ultimate goal of being better equipped to handle stress, adversity, and other obstacles to academic success.