Dr. Yumiko Murai is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Technology and Learning Design program at the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on designing and studying technological tools, programs, and environments that support learner motivation and confidence through online and in-person creative activities. Prior to SFU, Dr. Murai worked as a learning researcher at MIT Playful Journey Lab and Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, designing and conducting online and in-person professional development programs and assessments for maker and computer science educators. She holds an Ed.D. in Communication in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Murai shared her journey from a music educator to a researcher and how her experiences from her music classes inspired her to pursue an Ed.D and to explore creative learning approaches in education.
Welcome to SFU Dr. Murai. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I joined the Educational Technology and Learning Design program at SFU as an assistant professor this January. Prior to joining SFU, I received Ed.D. in Communication from Teachers College, Columbia University and worked as a postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. I started my journey in the field of education as an educator in informal learning spaces conducting a choir and teaching vocal performance in community spaces in Japan. As much as I loved music itself, I was fascinated by how the collective process of making music helped people cultivate their motivation, interests, and voice, and enabled them to unlock their potentials beyond music. I pursued a doctoral degree because I wanted to better understand the mechanism of motivational development and the role of a community in cultivating people’s interest and confidence. I explored that question in online learning environments for my dissertation. As a postdoc at M.I.T., I had the opportunity to work with researchers and designers who explore how play and creation can contribute in the field of education. I noticed that such an approach to learning, which we often call “creative learning,” embodies the type of learning environments that I had been trying to understand and design, ever since my experience in music. Now, I am very interested in the role of creative learning in opening up multiple pathways into learning and how it can be incorporated into existing in- and out-of-school environments.
Please share the type of research that you will be conducting as our newest faculty member at the faculty of Education.
I believe every person deserves an opportunity to engage in creative learning. While most of us mainly learn using the creative learning approach when we are little (Creative learning is modeled after how kindergarteners learn), as we grow older it tends to be less and less present in our educational environments. Thus, I am currently very interested in exploring ways to integrate the creative learning approach in the ongoing educational programs, weather classroom environments, science camps, robotics programs, etc. In particular, I am interested in the role of assessment in creative learning environments. Assessment is often a major concern when considering to fully integrate creative learning approach into the educational practices.
At M.I.T., I was part of a collaborative design project to reenvision assessment for maker classroom, where researchers, designers, and teachers worked together to design assessment that is process-oriented and student-involved, while providing formative and summative feedback to improve learning. More details can be found on this page https://makered.org/beyondrubrics/. I would like to continue exploring the questions of what assessment can be in the creative learning environments, how students can be an agent of assessment, and how reenvisioning pedagogy and assessment to incorporate creative learning may help promote equity and access in education.