Discovery LearningCU-Boulder University of Colorado at Boulder
Discovery Learning Program CU College of Engineering

The goal of the Center for LifeLong Learning and Design is to explore and understand Learning as a key aspect of a LifeLong activity rather than as an experience relegated to a separate time and place.

Our focus on Design creates an emphasis on “learning when the answer is not known” rather than solely as a process where experts or teachers transmit “the right answer” to unknowing novices. In this context, learning is viewed as a social process among participants who all have unique perspectives on a problem, with problem framing intertwined with problem solving, and the roles of teacher/learner changing throughout the activity.

Our approach encompasses theory development, prototype construction, assessment and evaluation, and application to practice by engaging in basic research on real problems. This involves the creation of socio-technical systems: on the technical side, we are working to construct intelligent systems that serve as amplifiers of human capabilities, and on the social side, our efforts are based on understanding and fostering distributed cognition, social creativity, and cultures of participation.

current projects

Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory ― The EDC environment supports problem-solving tasks by unifying diverse systems into two tightly integrated spaces, an action and a reflection space. These spaces integrate elements of physical games, computer simulations, and dynamic information spaces, creating an immersive environment for stakeholders to explore design solutions to their problems.

Participation and Energy Sustainability Our research is grounded in the basic assumption that to harvest the benefits of the smart-grid and other next-generation energy technologies, people must be engaged as active decision makers and not only as passive consumers. We are exploring a variety of socio-technical approaches, ranging from web-based collaborative simulation environments to community design tools. 

FireFly/ActiveSketch This project works to understand how whole-room, sketch-based environment can support group collaboration, interaction, and design activities.

Model the World! — This project is supported by a Google Research Award and explores cultures of participation in the context of SketchUp, 3D Warehouse, and the use of these 3D models in Google Earth.

group of people working around EDC table-top computing environment

The Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory (EDC)  supports collaborative problem-solving through use of a table-top computing environment.

“The Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship in L3D is great. It will help shape my success for a long time coming, I am sure. Working with talented people is a better way to get excited about projects and work ... It should almost be required for a semester to work with a group like L3D.”

―Dan Mayer, a CU undergraduate
who later became a donor to L3D's URAP program