Kylie Peppler

Associate Professor, Learning Sciences

While technology has paved the way for new teaching practices, Kylie Peppler has cemented the immersion of creativity into STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Peppler, an associate professor of Learning Sciences at Indiana University, works to understand the connection between arts and technology in attempt to deepen a child’s learning experience.

Children tend to be taught a controlled learning approach. The unattended consequence of this process is constraint of a child’s innovative thinking and creative possibilities. Peppler’s research questions how to encourage children to logically think through the collaborative use of technology. Her work pushes boundaries by bringing the arts into STEM fields and vice versa. She sees the immersion of creativity and technology as an area of innovation.

“I want to unlock the idea that computational thinking is an ability that allows you to construct things just like you would with a crayon and paper,” Peppler says.

Peppler obtained a bachelor’s degree in French, psychology and fine arts at Indiana University in 2003. Her desire to bridge her background in psychology and fine arts led Peppler to attend the University of California in Los Angeles. While working on her doctorate, Peppler joined a project called Scratch, a creative learning community for kids. Her programming tool was focused on how kids were using it as an expressive medium.

“For the first time I saw kids think about computation in expressive forms," Peppler says. "Even my students who couldn’t read or write were able to computer program."

Her current research aims to find how to engage children with computational textiles (e-textiles) in an after school setting. The project not only allows Peppler to study creativity in an emerging IT field, but allows children to interact with technology beyond a computer screen. Peppler enjoys that her work allows her to open new doors and show children new levels of creativity. She believes the challenges confronted in creating e-textiles enhance a child’s learning.

Peppler’s work with e-textiles led her to assist in the development of Lilypond, an online community for e-textiles designers. The website intersects the crafting and electronic communities that make up the creators and allows them to post their current projects.

E-textiles is the first female dominated computing industry. Women make up 65 percent of the e-textile field. She advises women students interested in an information technology field not to be pressured to conform to existing standards in the industry.

“Be comfortable with what you fall in love with, and be secure in the kinds of material you’re interested in working with,” Peppler says. “You don’t need to abandon your identity to come into computing.”

Being an IU faculty member since 2008, Peppler finds that her individuality as a researcher flourishes in the university’s innovative atmosphere.

View Peppler's website here »