News, Faculty and Research

Fostering Creative Learning

March 08, 2023

Dr. Yumiko Murai's research specializes in designing tools, activities, and environments that support creative learning for both in and out-of-school contexts.

Q: What inspired you to pursue educational technology and learning design?

A: I was(am) a vocal musician performing and teaching in community spaces and classrooms. As much as I loved music itself, I loved watching people transform through the experience of learning performing arts. When I completed the undergraduate program, I decided to pursue further scholarship combining my passion for supporting others to find their voices with my enthusiasm for digital technology, which was something I was always curious about and grew up with.   

Q: What role can maker classroom spaces play in advancing transformative technology and digital education? 

A: Not all maker classrooms involve or need to involve digital technology. However, I think maker classrooms can play an important role to lower the floor for more people to not only become capable users of new technologies but also designers and critiques of them (which is very important!). Of course, just creating a space or providing tools does not make this shift. Educators, students, and communities must work together to learn and change the culture and pedagogy in the classrooms to really make the best out of these emerging educational spaces. 

Q: What have you observed when it comes to gender equality and digital literacy across different cultural and socio-economical contexts, particularly Japan? 

A: I often run workshops for K-12 teachers and school students in Japan in the field of coding or maker education. I often notice that the majority of the applicants to those programs are boys or men. When I asked several people why that was the case, many of them mentioned that many parents of girls or women teachers do not consider coding, technology, engineering etc. are for them. I think this preconception is still largely universal worldwide, unfortunately. We need to acknowledge and celebrate the roles of women in the STEM fields and empower all people that digital literacy is for everyone.   

Q: What can educators do to foster creative learning and therefore improve digital literacy for women and girls? 

A: Principles of creative learning coined by Dr. Mitchel Resnick of MIT suggest that learning environments for creative learning should embody 4Ps – Project, Passion, Peers, and Play (Resnick, 2017). In particular, Passion points to learning environments that enable learners to bring in their interests and something they care about in their lives. I think that is how creative learning can empower women and girls in digital culture – by incorporating creative learning into any educational experiences, they can create opportunities for everyone to bring in pieces of their lives as they engage with digital technologies.    

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share? (Resources, links, etc.) 

A: You can read about my work and download resources from

For those who are interested in learning more about creative learning and pedagogical aspects of maker education, I’d recommend:

  • Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2017). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. MIT press. (translated into multiple languages)

  • Papert, S. A. (2020). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. Basic books.