Holbert, Nathan R. (nrh2118)

Nathan R. Holbert

Associate Professor of Communication, Media and Learning Technology Design
212-678-8207

Office Location:

322C Thmps

Educational Background

Ph.D., Learning Sciences, Northwestern University
M.A.Ed., Instructional Process, Washington University
B.S., Secondary Chemistry Education, Greenville College

Scholarly Interests

I build playful tools and learning environments that invite all people to creatively construct and share things they care about. As a Learning Scientist, I iteratively design these tools and spaces to ask questions about how representations and interactions enable thinking and action. I believe our personal experiences and values matter, and consequently my work engages communities and stakeholders throughout the design process. Recent projects include a design framework for supporting youth in creating speculative art that critiques present day injustice, a technological toolkit to connect geographically distributed makers, and a video game to support teachers as they introduce computer science.

I received my Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences from Northwestern University and am the founder and director of the Snow Day Learning Lab. My recent publications include “Afrofuturism as Critical Constructionist Design: Building Futures from the Past and Present” in Learning, Media, and Technology, “The Case for Alternative Endpoints in Computing Education” in the British Journal of Educational Technology, and “Designing Educational Video Games to Be Objects-to-Think-With” in the Journal of the Learning Sciences. I am also co-editor of the volume Designing Constructionist Futures: The Art, Theory, and Practice of Learning Designs published by MIT Press.

More information about current projects and publications can be found at www.snowdaylearninglab.org.

Selected Publications

Holbert, N., Berland, M., & Kafai, Y. (Eds.). (2020). Designing Constructionist Futures: The Art, Theory, and Practice of Learning Designs. MIT Press. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/designing-constructionist-futures

Holbert, N., Dando, M., & Correa, I. (2020). Afrofuturism as critical constructionist design: Building futures from the past and present. Learning, Media and Technology, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2020.1754237

Holbert, N., & Wilensky, U. (2019). Designing Educational Video Games to Be Objects-to-Think-With. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 28(1), 32–72. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2018.1487302

Holbert, N. (2016). Leveraging cultural values and “ways of knowing” to increase diversity in maker activities. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 9–10, 33–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcci.2016.10.002 

Keynote Panel: Designing Constructionist Futures
Constructionism 2020; May 2020 (Cancelled due to COVID-19)

Keynote: Making the Future
Didacta Italy; Florence, Italy; October 2019

Presenter: Designing Constructionist Formative Assessment Games
NSF STEM+C PI Poster Session; Arlington, VA; September 2019

Presenter: Beats Empire
CSTA NYC Chapter Meetup; New York, NY; May 2019

Presenter: Designing Educational Games to be Objects-to-Think-With
Journal of the Learning Sciences Webinar, May 2019

Keynote: Tools and Technologies for Learning to be a Learner
Yew Chung - Yew Wah 85th Anniversary Conference; Hong Kong; March 2018

Presenter: Democratization of Computational Literacy
Creative Technologies Colloquium; New York, NY; February 2018

Presenter: Bots for Tots: It’s not just what we make, but also why and for whom
EdLab Brownbag Series; New York, NY; January 2018

Keynote: Tools and Technologies for Learning to be a Learner
TC Parenting Series; Hollywood, CA; October 2017

Journal Articles

Tissenbaum, M., Weintrop, D., Holbert, N., Clegg, T. (2021). The Case for Alternative Endpoints in Computer Science Education. British Journal of Educational Technology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13072 

Holbert, N., DiSalvo, B., & Berland, M. (2020). The Rollout of Computer Science Education to Every Student in New York City: A Socio-contextual Social Network Analysis. Teachers College Record, 122(11), 1–30. https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=23484 

Holbert, N., Dando, M., & Correa, I. (2020). Afrofuturism as critical constructionist design: Building futures from the past and present. Learning, Media and Technology, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2020.1754237

Holbert, N., & Wilensky, U. (2019). Designing Educational Video Games to Be Objects-to-Think-With. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 28(1), 32–72. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2018.1487302 

Soylu, F., Holbert, N., Brady, C., & Wilensky, U. (2017). Embodied perspective taking in learning about complex systems. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 28(3), 269–303.

Holbert, N., Thanapornsangsuth, S., & Villeroy, M. (2017). Challenges and Tradeoffs When Engaging Young Makers With Constructing for Others. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 8(1).

Holbert, N. (2016). Leveraging cultural values and “ways of knowing” to increase diversity in maker activities. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 9–10, 33–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcci.2016.10.002

Holbert, N. (2016). The powerful ideas of making: Building beyond the curriculum. Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 5(1), 30. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13731-016-0058-4 

Weintrop, D., Holbert, N., Horn, M., & Wilensky, U. (2016). Computational thinking in constructionist video games. International Journal of Game-based Learning (6)1, 1-17.

Holbert, N., & Wilensky, U. (2014). Constructible authentic representations: Designing video games that enable players to utilize knowledge developed in-game to reason about science. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 19(1-2), 53–79.

Brady, C., Holbert, N., Soylu, F., Novak, M., & Wilensky, U. (2014). Sandboxes for model-based inquiry. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 24(2-3), 265–286. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-014-9506-8 


Peer Reviewed Conference Proceedings

Xu, C. & Holbert, N. (2019) Exploring STEM Impact and Engagement in Student-Led and Purpose-Driven Projects (Aka – Make With Data). Proceedings of the 2019 Connected Learning Summit. Irvine, CA, USA.

Dando, M., Holbert, N., & Correa, M. (2019) Remixing Wakanda: Envisioning Critical Afrofuturist Design Pedagogies. Proceedings of FabLearn 2019: 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311890.3311915.

Thanapornsangsuth, S. & Holbert, N. (2019) Making Community: Following in the footsteps of the Thai King. Proceedings of FabLearn 2019: 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311890.3311911.

Chan, M. M. & Holbert, N. (2019) Exploring modalities of reflection using social online portfolios for maker- oriented project-based learning. Proceedings of FabLearn 2019: 8th Annual Conference on Maker Education. New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3311890.3311919.

Holbert, N. & Thanapornsangsuth, S. (2018). Expanding the Maker Movement by Recentering “Building for Others” in Construction Activities. In Kay, J. and Luckin, R. (Eds.) Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age: Making the Learning Sciences Count, 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2018, Volume 1. London, UK: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Holbert, N., Kafai, Y., & Berland, M. (2018). Constructionism at Scale. Proceedings of Constructionism 2018. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Davey, C., Thanapornsangsuth, S., & Holbert, N. (2018). Making Together: Cultivating community of practice in an all-girls constructionist learning environment. Proceedings of Constructionism 2018. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Thanapornsangsuth, S., Holbert, N., & Chan, M. (2018). Towards girls’ self-perception in technology and craft: Challenges and implications. Proceedings of Constructionism 2018. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Thanapornsangsuth, S., & Holbert N. (2018). Exploring girls’ values and perspectives in making for others. Proceedings of Constructionism 2018. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Thanapornsangsuth, S., & Holbert, N. (2017). Bots for Tots: Girls’ Perceived Versus Actual Competency in Technology and Making. In Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 458–465). New York, NY, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/3078072.3084309

Holbert, N. (2016). Bots for Tots: Building inclusive makerspaces by leveraging “ways of knowing.” Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 79–88). Manchester, UK: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2930674.2930718

Holbert, N. (2016). Bots for Tots: Leveraging ‘ways of knowing’ to increase diversity in makerspaces. Proceedings of Constructionism 2016. Bangkok, Thailand.

Girvan, C., Holbert, N., Hoyles, C., Kynigos, C., & Noss, R. (2016). Considering approaches to research through the lens of constructionism. Proceedings of Constructionism 2016. Bangkok, Thailand.

Holbert, N., Russ, R., & Davis, P. (2015). The use of cognitive clinical interviews to explore learning from video game play. In C. Steinkuehler & A. Ochsner (Eds.), Proceedings of 11th Annual Games, Learning, and Society Conference. Madison, WI.

Holbert, N., Weintrop, D. & Wilensky, U. (2014). Constructionist video games: Creating educational video games that empower players to construct new knowledge. In N. Holbert & D. Weintrop (Org), N. Holbert (Chair), and Y. Kafai (Discussant), Combining video games and constructionist design to support deep learning in play. In J. Poleman, E. Kyza, I. Tabak & K. O'Neill (Eds.), Proceedings of "Learning and Becoming in Practice," the 11th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2014). University of Colorado at Boulder: ISLS.

Holbert, N. (2014). Exploring the particulate nature of matter in a constructionist video game. In M. Johnson- Glenberg (Org & Chair), Science sims and games: Best design practices and fave flops. In J. Poleman, E. Kyza, I. Tabak & K. O'Neill (Eds.), Proceedings of "Learning and Becoming in Practice," the 11th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2014). University of Colorado at Boulder: ISLS.

Holbert, N., & Wilensky, U. (2012). Representational congruence: Connecting video game experiences to the design and use of formal representations. In Kynigos, C., Clayson, J. E., & Yiannoutsou, N. (Ed.), Constructionism Theory, Practice, and Impact: Proceedings of Constructionism 2012. Athens, Greece.

Weintrop, D., Holbert, N., Wilensky, U., & Horn, M. (2012).Redefining constructionist video games: Marrying constructionism and video game design. In Kynigos, C., Clayson, J. E., & Yiannoutsou, N. (Ed.), Constructionism Theory, Practice, and Impact: Proceedings of Constructionism 2012. Athens, Greece.

Holbert, N. R., & Wilensky, U. (2012). Designing video games that encourage players to integrate formal representations with informal play. In van Aalst, J., Thompson, K., Jacobson, M. J., & Reimann, P. (Eds.), The Future of Learning: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2012) – Volume 1, Full papers. International Society of the Learning Sciences: Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Holbert, N. R., & Wilensky, U. (2011). FormulaT Racing: Designing a game for kinematic exploration and computational thinking. In Steinkuehler, K., Martin, C., Ochsner, A. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th annual Games , Learning, and Society Conference. Madison, WI.

Holbert, N., Penney, L., & Wilensky, U. (2010). Bringing constructionism to action gameplay. In J. E. Clayson & I. Kalas (Ed.), Constructionism 2010. Paris, France.

Holbert, N. R., Wilensky, U. (2010). FormulaT Racing: Combining gaming culture and intuitive sense of mechanism for video game design. In Gomez, K., Lyons, L., & Radinsky, J. (Eds.) Learning in the Disciplines: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2010) - Volume 2, Short Papers, Symposia, and Selected Abstracts (pp. 268-269). International Society of the Learning Sciences: Chicago, IL.

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