Human Centered Design in STEAM Stems Inquiry, PBL and Technology Integration that Transforms Learning

 “Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration… What Would Dewey Think?

I just got done reading a fabulous article from the blog 21centuryedutech titled “Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration… What Would Dewey Think?”  that really opened my eyes and helped me connect some dots in my mind. In this article, the author, Michael Gorman, illustrates how STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration are interconnected.  While reading this article I decided to create a mind map using Popplet.

The SAMR Model: Transforming Learning through Technology Integration

Additionally, I viewed two videos featuring  Dr. Ruben Puentedura, creator of the SAMR Model.  The first video discussed the impact of the SAMR Model, and the second video discussed the application of the SAMR Model.  As I watched these videos I added more ideas and connections to my mind map.

The SAMR Model focuses on the level of technology integration.  Technology can enhance learning or it can transform learning.  If the technology is used in a way that acts as Substitution or Augmentation than the technology is enhancing the learning experience. On the other hand, if technology is being used to modify or redefine learning than it is transforming the learning experience.  PBL presents the opportunity for technology tools to be used in a more transformative way (Puentedura. R.  (n.d, a).

Tying together Inquiry-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning

This semester I have also been taking a course on Inquiry-Based Learning, and I have been questioning how Inquiry-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning are connected.  Throughout the semester I have come to the conclusion that although not all PBL experiences include inquiry, that projects that have the element of inquiry allow for more transformative learning experiences.  When learning is transformed student learn concepts better.  Students can take an abstract concept and make it more concrete through visualization tools (Puentedura, n.d., b).  Through transformation, students have improved outcomes and are able to apply their learning in an authentic way and connect it to real-world problems.

Human-Centered Design to the Rescue

I believe that design thinking is a way to tie together STEAM, Technology Integration through the SAMR Model, PBL, and Inquiry-Based Learning together.  Specifically, I believe that schools should be focusing on Human-Center Design. When I attended PETE&C last February I attended a special session by author and consultant, Kevin Jarrett on February, 13th.  In this special session, “EMPOWERING LEARNERS TO CHANGE THE(IR) WORLD WITH HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN THINKING”Mr. Jarrett pointed out that if we just implement the engineering and design process that we are failing to help our students make real-world connections.  He made a strong argument for Human-Centered Design, which made me realize where the projects in my STEAM classroom were falling short.

Ideally, students would look at how they can solve a problem for members of their community.  This would tap into students’ curiosities.   From this inquisitiveness stems a Driving Question.  The students begin to question how they might solve the problem.  This Driving Question is the basis for their project.  Student Voice and Student Choice are two essential components of Inquiry-Based Learning.  By allowing students to find their voice and make choices in their projects of study, Project-Based Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning merge into a new “best practice” that promotes a higher level of learning.  PBL is the pedagogy allows teachers to integrate content areas (Gorman, 2014).  The SAMR Model can serve as the common language between teachers of different content areas  (Puentedura, n.d., b).  When looking at PBL, Inquiry-Based Learning, STEAM, and SAMR the thread that remains constant is that learning should be authentic.  Through authentic learning via Human-Centered Design, students apply the content from all subject areas to solve a real-world problem that will help their fellow humans.  As a result, students build a deeper understanding of concepts, have improved outcomes, exhibit higher level learning, and work on important 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.  As I reflect on my teaching practices as a STEAM teacher, I believe that incorporating Human-Center Design will allow me to bring authenticity and inquiry into my students’ projects.

Here is a short overview of Human Centered Design by

What is Human-centered Design? from on Vimeo.


Gorman, M. (2014, 15 September 15). Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Tech Integration… What Would Dewey Think? [blog] Retrieved from 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning:

Puentedura. R.  (n.d, a) Ruben Puentedura on the Impact of the SAMR Model. Retrieved from Common Sense Media:

Puentedura. R. (n.d., b)  Ruben Puentedura on Applying the SAMR Model. Retrieved from Common Sense Media:

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