Kylie Peppler

Associate Professor of Learning Sciences
& Director of The Creativity Labs
at Indiana University Bloomington

An artist by training, I engage in research that focuses on the intersection of arts, technology and interest-driven learning. In addition to serving as the Director of the Creativity Labs at Indiana University, I am also the lead of the MacArthur Foundation’s Make-to-Learn initiative, an advisor to the Connected Learning Research Network, and a member of the 2015 National Educational Technology Plan Committee sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Career Highlights

Brilliant Minds, Published on Oct 14, 2014
Brilliant Minds is a series of short videos showcasing the research and creative activity of faculty at Indiana University Bloomington. In this video, meet Kylie Peppler, a professor of education who focuses on how hands-on, design-based learning—especially the use of computational textiles (or e-textiles)—can transform the education process, inside and outside the classroom.

Her Story, Published online in March 2015
Kylie Peppler is one of 15 powerful women making an impact at Indiana University. Read her profile: There is little understanding of how to teach science productively in elementary school, so Kylie Peppler is falling back on a tried and true tool: puppets!

Highlighted Books

Textile Messages New Creativity Paradigms The Computer Clubhouse


Gaming the System Script Changers Short Circuits Soft Circuits

Research Interests

Arts Education Computation Computer Science Ed Creativity Design DIY (Do It Yourself) E-Textiles Gaming Informal Learning Interest-Driven Learning Maker Culture New Media Scratch Programming Systems Thinking Wearable Computing

For a sortable list of work related to my research interests, please see the publications section of this website.


  • 2007–2008: Post-Doc — University of California, Irvine
    • Postdoctoral Research Associate,
    • Uncovering Literacies, Disrupting Stereotypes: Media Arts Practices of Youth with (Dis)Abilities
    • Supervisor: Mark Warschauer
  • 2007: Ph.D. in Education — University of California, Los Angeles
    • Dissertation: Creative Bytes: Literacy and Learning in the Media Arts Practices of Urban Youth
    • Committee: James Catterall, Yasmin Kafai, Ernest Morrell, and C.E.B. Reas
  • 2002: B.A. — Indiana University, Bloomington
    • Psychology, French, and Studio Art

Academic Appointments

2008 - now

Indiana University Bloomington

Appointed July 2015:

Associate Professor of Learning Sciences

As Director of the Creativity Labs at Indiana University (, I bring together educators, designers, artists, and learning theorists interested in constructionist and hands-on, design-based learning. The lab focuses on computational tools and materials that support learning by leveraging youths’ interests in digital culture, design, and making.

 Much of my current thinking around making and interest-driven learning is highlighted in my report for the Wallace Foundation, New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age (2013), which showcases how today’s youth learn on their own time and according to their own interests through digital production tools and social media. I also collaboratively designed curricula with the National Writing Project—a four-volume series called Interconnections: Understanding Systems through Digital Designs (MIT Press)—that investigates how designing digital stories, e-fashion, e-puppetry, and videogames in and out of school can help youth connect to core systems thinking concepts emphasized in the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (Peppler, Gresalfi, Salen Tekinbaș, & Santo, 2014; Peppler, Salen Tekinbaș, Gresalfi, & Santo, 2014; Salen Tekinbaș, Gresalfi, Peppler & Santo; Peppler, Santo, Gresalfi, & Salen Tekinbaș, 2014).

Understandings from projects like these, in addition to several studies funded to study emerging maker communities by the National Science Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative, and others have guided my current research. A primary focus of this work is on an emerging community of makers creating computational textiles (or e-textiles)—textile artifacts that are computationally generated or that contain embedded computers like the LilyPad Arduino—which capture youths’ pre-existing interests in new media, fashion, and design while supporting learning and creativity in computer science, arts, design, and engineering. My recent research findings indicate that introducing such novel, cross-disciplinary technologies can broaden participation, particularly by women as well as improve learning outcomes (Buechley, Peppler, Eisenberg, & Kafai, 2013; Peppler, 2014).

While the major focus of my work is studying how new technologies support learning, I also design new learning environments and educational applications. Most notable of these design efforts is BioSim, a participatory simulation enhanced with e-puppetry that provides a context for classroom teachers to enable embodied, first person explorations of complex biological systems (Danish, Peppler, Phelps, & Washington, 2011; Peppler, Danish, Zaitlen, Glosson, Jacobs, & Phelps, 2010). These pilot designs have been featured in a host of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) outlets, including, and MAKE magazine and have won numerous awards within these communities.

→ View the Creativity Labs website


Postdoctoral Research Assistant

During my postdoctoral research position with Dr. Mark Warschauer, we collaboratively investigated the utility of the Scratch visual programming environment for non-dominant learners. Together, we found this to be a highly motivating introduction to computer programming for children who would otherwise not engage with this important practice (Peppler & Warschauer, 2012). In addition to notable benefits for English Language Learners, we found Scratch to be an effective tool to foster traditional literacy development for students with a range of disabilities but particularly those with cognitive disabilities.

2002 - 2007

Graduate Research Assistant: UCLA

A natural extension of my arts background came through my work with Dr. James Catterall, where I investigated the nature of arts learning in several notable projects funded by the Ford Foundation as well as the US Department of Education. In this work, we explored how childrens' creativity and worldview was positively impacted by High-Quality Visual Arts Education (HQVAE). We also worked to create new measures for a range of arts learning, as well as document and evaluate rich models of arts education.

Seeking to forge an understanding of how new technologies are transforming the arts, I began working with with Dr. Yasmin Kafai and Dr. Mitchel Resnick on the NSF-sponsored development and early study of the visual programming language, Scratch ( Scratch was developed specifically for marginalized youth to develop fluency with computational technologies. What this mediated interface provides for youth (and what makes it fundamentally different from other programming languages) is an emphasis on media manipulation, which supports programming activities that resonate with the interests of youth, such as creating animated stories, games, and interactive presentations (Peppler, 2010; Kafai & Peppler, 2011; Peppler, Warschauer, & Diazgranados, 2010; Peppler & Kafai, 2010). 

My dissertation work, sponsored by a fellowship from the Spencer Foundation, merged my interests in the arts and computational technology to examine into the ways in which a community of under-represented youth at a Computer Clubhouse (Kafai, Peppler, & Chapman, 2009) in South Los Angeles cultivated deep learning of core computer science and media arts concepts  in Scratch (Peppler, 2007). This research was one of the first to assert that this type of learning in the arts and computer science can occur in informal learning communities (Maloney, Peppler, Kafai, Resnick, & Rusk, 2008a; Peppler & Kafai, in preparation). I have since written extensively to the arts and computer science education audiences on this subject, calling for curricula to focus on the “new fundamentals” of computer programming in the arts education curriculum (Peppler, 2010a/b). Such initiatives blend the arts with computation (a foundational concept of computer science and engineering fields). 

The online Scratch community has since grown to showcase millions of projects and the design work for Scratch was awarded the Eliot Pearson Award for Excellence in Children’s Media in 2008 and an Honorable Mention in the Digital Communities category of Prix Ars Electronica (one of the most distinguished awards in new media), in which my contribution to the early work on Scratch was recognized.

Highlighted Projects from the Creativity Labs

Current and prior support from:


For a full list of projects, please visit the Creativity Labs website.


Capitalizing on youths’ pre-existing interests in new media, fashion, and design, this project encourages youth to integrate electronic circuits and computer technology with cloth to make fashions, puppets, and more.


This 4-volume collection uses a design-based approach to learning and offers up a toolkit for supporting systems thinking in ways that are aligned to standards, but also relevant to youth interests in digital culture.


This study capitalizes upon the alignment between participatory simulations and the play activities of young children, who are already apt to explore topics of interest to them through play-acting and games.

LATA: Learning & Achieving
Through the Arts

The Creativity Labs are working to enhance, document, and evaluate the model for LATA's core arts integration, and to share it with other school districts around the country.


The Maker movement and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture celebrates innovation, creativity, and community engagement centered on hands-on creation.

Maker Ed Open Portfolio Project

The Open Portfolio Project is aimed at developing technology solutions and a common set of practices for portfolio creation, reflection, sharing, and assessment.


  • Filter publications by research type:

  •  Suggested Readings
  •  E-Textiles & Maker Culture
  •  Arts & Creativity
  •  Scratch & Computational Media
  •  Games & Social Media
  •  Interest-Driven Learning
  •  Systems Thinking

In Preparation:

  • Peppler, K. (Ed.) (in preparation, 2017). Encyclopedia of out-of-school learning: Volumes 1 and 2. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Peppler, K. (in preparation). Informal music learning and making communities. In A. Ruthmann and R. Mantie (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of technology and music education. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Peppler, K., Halverson, E. & Kafai, Y. (Eds.) (in preparation). Makeology: Makerspaces as learning environments (Volume 1). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Peppler, K., Halverson, E. & Kafai, Y. (Eds.) (in preparation). Makeology: Makers as learners (Volume 2). New York, NY: Routledge.











Honors & Awards

  • Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from Indiana University (2014). The awards, presented by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, honor tenure-track faculty who have begun to develop nationally recognized research or scholarship programs and devoted productive time to teaching and service, but who have not yet achieved tenure.
  • “Be Great!” Award Recipient (2012) from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington in recognition for volunteer work technology lab work
  • American Education Research Association (AERA) (2011) Highest Ranked Paper Submission Award in the Peace Education Special Interest Group (SIG)
  • American Education Research Association (AERA) (2011) Best Emerging Media Paper in the Media, Culture & Curriculum (MCC) Special Interest Group (SIG)
  • Indiana Governor’s Award for Tomorrow’s Leaders (2009). Top Award given to outstanding young leaders in the state of Indiana who have shown exemplary leadership under the age of 30
  • Honorable Mention in Prix Arts Electronica in Community Art for work on the Scratch Online Community (2008). One of the highest international awards in the digital arts community
  • Group Volunteer of the Year (2008) at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington for outstanding service to the organization
  • Top Paper at the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Conference (2008)
  • UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2008)
  • Spencer Dissertation Fellowship for Research Related to Education (2006-2007)
  • Hoyt Foundation Fellowship (2004 – 2005). Graduate Fellowship awarded to recipients within the University of California schools

Courses Taught

  • Graduate Topical Seminar: Designing for Change (ED P647/Formerly P650), Indiana University
  • Graduate Topical Seminar: Learning in New Media (ED P574), Indiana University
  • Online Graduate Topical Seminar: Learning in New Media (ED P574), Indiana University
  • Apprenticeship in the Learning Sciences (ED P573), Indiana University
  • Educational Psychology for All Grades (ED P254), Indiana University
  • Culture, Technology, and Human Development (ED 194B), UCLA
  • Culture, Communications, and Human Development (ED 194C), UCLA
  • Quantitative Statistics (PSYCH P211), Indiana University
  • Neural Bases of Human Behavior (PSYCH E105), Indiana University
  • Introductory Psychology (PSYCH P101), Indiana University

Talks, Press, & Service

Talks & Presentations

Click the arrow to view a list of my public speaking events.

In the Press

To view my news coverage click the arrow below.


Click the arrow below to learn more about my service activities.

Contact Information

Kylie Peppler, Ph.D.
Office Address

Indiana University
Eigenmann 528
1900 E. Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47406


Office Phone