Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Spring 3-2018


Falls, Z., & Olmanson, J. (2018). “There’s Nothing Wrong with Fun”: Unpacking the Tensions and Challenges of Human Centered Design for Learning with Pre-Service Teachers (pp. 1260–1265). Presented at the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).


Copyright 2018 Zoe Falls & Justin Olmanson.


Research into practices of making within formalized education has primarily focused on K12 settings, inservice teachers in professional development, and pre-service teachers facilitating a maker experience for K12 students. Less is known about the professionalizing impact making and human centered design can have on pre-service teachers, especially in relation to how or if the experience deepens their understanding of content, pedagogy and human centered design. This study traces a group of pre-service social science teachers’ development of a meme generator to support learning history. By studying their process from inception to conclusion, we found students were less inclined to engage in deep thinking about their content and the teaching of that content in favor of a fun-focused approach to their prototype which they asserted both connected with history lovers and solved the problem of “boring content.” We then theorize that students’ limited amount of pedagogical knowledge, limited exposure to human centered design, and a lack of course scaffolds contributed to an echo-chamber which limited students’ ability to cultivate the empathy inherent in prototyping and making. Finally we outline the instructional implications for using human centered design with preservice teachers and describe the course maker project redesigns this study prompted.