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Faculty & Research

Christopher Dede

Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Technology, Innovation, and Education Program

Christopher Dede

Degree:  Ed.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, (1972)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.495.3839
Fax:  617.495.9268
Vitae/CV:   Christopher Dede.pdf
Office:  Longfellow 336
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member
Faculty Assistant:  Claire Goggin


Chris Dede's fundamental interest is developing new types of educational systems to meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. His research spans emerging technologies for learning, infusing technology into large-scale educational improvement initiatives, developing policies that support educational transformation, and providing leadership in educational innovation. He is currently conducting funded studies to develop and assess learning environments based on virtual worlds, augmented realities, transformed social interaction, and online teacher professional development. Dede is a leader in mobile learning initiatives and has developed a widely used Framework for scaling up educational innovations. From 2001 to 2004, he served as chair of the Learning & Teaching area at HGSE.

Click here to see a full list of Chris Dede's courses.

Areas of Expertise
Professor Dede’s current research focuses on three areas: emerging technologies for learning and assessment, leadership in educational technology implementation, and effective policy for educational technology utilization. His research in emerging technologies includes funded projects on multi-user virtual environments, augmented realities, transformed social interaction, and online professional development. His research on leadership focuses on issues of scaling up innovations from local to widespread use, and his work in policy centers on state and national level educational improvement strategies.
Named as one of “the top 25 edtech innovations and innovators of the past 25 years” by the Consortium for School Networking,(2017)

Outstanding Contributions to Research in Immersive Learning Award, American Educational Research Association,(2017)

Center for Digital Education Award in “Top 30 Technologists, Transformers, and Trailblazers”,(2016)

Noted by Tech and Learning journal as one of the most “influential people affecting the advancement of technology in education”,(2013)

Award from Association for Teacher Educators for "outstanding leadership and dedication to the education profession",(2012)

National Environmental Education Week Green STEM Innovators Award,(2012)

Association for Educational Communications and Technology Distinguished Development Award,(2011)

Association for Educational Communications and Technology Immersive Learning Award, Interactive Category,(2011)

Fellow of the American Educational Research Association,(2011)

Special Achievement Award, Society for Information Technology in Teacher Education,(2010)

Certificate of Special Recognition, Consortium for School Networking,(2009)

The Friday Medal, North Carolina State University,(2009)

Twice received the Outstanding Reviewer Award, Educational Researcher, American Educational Research Association,(2008)

Honored by Harvard University as an Outstanding Teacher,(2007)

National Service Award, National University Telecommunications Network,(2007)

Timothy E. Wirth Professorship in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education,(2000)

Sponsored Projects

Improving Early Literacy at Scale through Personalized Diagnosis and Intervention (2018-2022)
Chan- Zuckerberg Foundation

“Personalized learning” is an emerging movement in education, generating both optimism and skepticism in the field. We are optimistic because of the enormous possibilities implicit in helping every learner reach his or her full potential by leveraging advances in technology, but we also recognize challenges to large-scale change due to the thin evidence base and constraining policy and practice environments. We share with many in education a deep commitment to the principles of equity and excellence motivating much of the move to personalized learning. Building on a joint planning process begun in January 2017, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and MIT are pleased to submit this proposal for a $30 million joint initiative to improve early literacy through personalized diagnosis and intervention. Because we believe that personalized learning will take root and expand only if it can make demonstrable progress in addressing pressing education challenges, we will focus on applying principles of personalization toward the goal that all children achieve mastery of foundational literacy skills by the end of third grade.

EcoMOD: Integrating Computational Thinking into Ecosystems Science Education via Modeling in Immersive Virtual Worlds (2016-2019)
National Science Foundation

Under Track 1 Design and Development of the STEM+C program, the Ecolearn group at Harvard University will develop and study ecosystems science curricula that introduce modeling concepts and processes to third graders, based on computational thinking and programming. Research has revealed that even young students can demonstrate sophisticated reasoning and understandings related to complex causal patterns and features, and can engage in computer programming activities. The EcoMOD (Model/Modify, Observe, Design) project will build on and extend our prior EcoMUVE curriculum for middle school, using a design-based research approach to combine an immersive virtual environment with hands-on interactive modeling through a scaffolded computational interface. EcoMOD will offer links between multiple forms of representation to help connect visual models to dynamic representations of ecosystem interactions in a simulated forest setting. The curriculum will provide a highly supported, object-oriented programming environment similar to Scratch or Starlogo NOVA with a simple, scaffolded block interface, customized to focus on ecosystems modeling and designed specifically for younger children. EcoMOD's learning goals in habitats and food webs are taught using a systems perspective, shifting the instructional focus from comprehension of static representations to consequential student interaction with dynamic computational models. EcoMOD will explore these research questions: RQ1 - Using a design-based research methodology, which approaches to abstraction and representation offer the best scaffolding to students? Given this scaffolding, to what extent are students able to construct, modify, and interpret computational models that represent ecological concepts in EcoMOD? RQ2- To what extent do students show gains in understanding causal dynamics in ecosystem science content knowledge and affective measures after using EcoMOD? RQ3 - How does teachers' use of the curricula unfold in practice? What types of supports are necessary prior to and during the implementation? RQ4- To what extent do teachers see usage of the EcoMOD curriculum in typical school settings as desirable and as feasible from a practical perspective? EcoMOD will develop measures and methods for assessing the outcomes of this third grade curriculum on students and teachers. The resultant proof of concept, case-based data can inform future research on controlled comparison studies.

EcoXPT: Affordances for experimentation in an immersive world to support the learning of ecosystem science and complex causality (2014-2019)
National Science Foundation

This project develops and studies a new curriculum, EcoXPT, that works alongside the previously developed EcoMUVE curriculum. EcoMUVE consists of two multi-user virtual environment (MUVE)-based modules, which center on immersive pond and forest virtual ecosystems. Each module represents an ecological scenario involving complex causality, providing a richly textured, situated environment where, through modeling and instructional support, students can explore, observe, and collect data in rich, immersive, simulated virtual ecosystems. EcoXPT goes beyond observational inquiry to center on experiment-based inquiry as practiced in the ecosystems science field and called for in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), through adding iterative cycles of experimentation, reflection, and revision. Interviews with ecosystem scientists support the team’s ability to develop EcoXPT so that students can authentically test their own hypotheses so as to better understand causal patterns they could previously only observe, thereby extending their comprehension of underlying causal relationships. Students are be able to manipulate variables that represent the connection between individual ecosystem components, as well as develop a concept map linked to experimental evidence. They design small- and large-scale experiments to discover both short- and long-term, expected and unexpected effects. Three summative studies will be conducted to assess how EcoXPT works in contrast to a Business-as-Usual, EcoMUVE, and Non-immersive simulation curricula.

Dede, C., Richards, J., & Saxberg, B. (Eds.). (2019). Learning engineering for online education: Theoretical contexts and design-based examples. New York: Routledge.,(2019)

Dede, C. (2018). The 60 Year Curriculum: Developing new educational models to support the agile labor market. Evolllution October 19, 2018,(2018)

Liu, D., Dede, C., Huang, R., & Richards, J. (Eds.). (2017). Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality in education. Hong Kong: Springer.,(2017)

Dede. C., Ho, A., & Mitros. P. (2016) Big Data analysis in higher education: Promises and pitfalls. EDUCAUSE Review, 51, 5 (September/October 2016), 22-34.,(2016)

Fishman, B., & Dede, C. (in press). Teaching and technology: New tools for new times. In D. Gitomer & C. Bell (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching, 5th Edition (American Educational Research Association). New York, NY: Springer.,(2016)

Dede, C., Eisenkraft, A., Frumin, K., & Hartley, A. (Eds). (2016). Teacher learning in the digital age: Online professional development in STEM education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard,(2016)

Dede, C. (2014). The role of digital technologies in deeper learning. New York, NY: Jobs for the Future.,(2014)

Dede, C., & Richards, J. (Eds.). (2012). Digital teaching platforms: Customizing classroom learning for each student. New York: Teacher’s College Press.,(2012)

MITx Press Editorial Board,(2013-present)

Consulting Editor, Educational Technology Research and Develpment,(2010-present)

Editorial Board, Educational Researcher,(2000-present)

Editorial Board, Journal of Science Education and Technology,(2000-present)

Review Board, Journal of the Learning Sciences,(1998-present)

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