Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size
Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning
Jim Slotta

Jim Slotta

phone: (416) 978-0121

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Centre for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

Research Overview

Jim Slotta is Professor and President's Chair in Knowledge Technologies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Since 2005, he has led a team of students, designers and developers to investigate new models of collaborative and collective inquiry in K-12 science, including powerful new roles for technology enhanced learning environments. Building on a background in physics and cognitive psychology, he has developed a pedagogical model known as Knowledge Community and Inquiry, in which students explore investigate a phenomenon or issue within a carefully scripted and orchestrated sequence of learning activities. Their inquiry is situated within smart classrooms and distributed learning environments, featuring user-contributed content, aggregated and emergent forms of knowledge, and a variety of scaffolds for the orchestration of individual, small group, and whole class activities.

From 2006 - 2011, Slotta served as Canada Research Chair in Education and Technology. He has served as PI or co-I on more than 30 funded projects totalling more than $30 Million, supervised 20 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, and co-directed the NSF-funded Center for Technology-Enhanced Learning (2003-2008).

Slotta is currently developing a new generation of networked technologies to support future learning spaces through social, tangible and embodied interactions. He strongly advocates the development of open source materials for the learning sciences, and is currently developing SCORE - a SCripting and ORchestration Environment for collective inquiry designs.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

BS in physics (high honors) Case Institute of Technology, 1987
MS in cognitive psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1989
PhD in cognitive psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 1997

Teaching Overview

Pre-service instruction: Technology, Curriculum and Instruction is an introduction to the role of technology in promoting inquiry and constructivist learning. Teachers work collaboratively, and use technologies themselves to develop a technology-enhanced lesson plan.

Graduate instruction: Knowledge Media and Learning is a doctoral level seminar that is also open to masters students, offered as both CTL 1926 and KMD2003. An affiliated course with the Knowledge Media Design Institute (see, this course explores themes in knowledge media including social networking, ubiquitous computing, smart spaces, and layered information systems. Students work together as a "knowledge community" to explore these themes, extending the work of previous cohorts and investigating the latest trends and deep applications of new media.

Representative Publications


Slotta, J. D. & Linn, M. C. (2009). WISE Science: Inquiry and the Internet in the Science Classroom. Teachers College Press.


Slotta, J., Quintana, R., & Moher, T. (2018). Collective Inquiry in Communities of Learners.  In the International Handbook of the Learning Sciences. (F. Fischer, C. Hmelo-Silver, P. Reimann, & S. Goldman, Eds.). Routledge.

Tissenbaum, M., & Slotta, J. D. (2015). Scripting and Orchestration of Learning Across Contexts: A Role for Intelligent Agents and Data Mining. In Seamless Learning in the Age of Mobile Connectivity (pp. 223-257). Springer Singapore.

Slotta, J.D. (2014). Tangible and Embodied Interactions for Learning. In Richard Gunstone (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Science Education. Springer.

Peters, V. L., & Slotta, J. D. (2010). Scaffolding knowledge communities in the classroom:  New opportunities in the Web 2.0 era. In M. J. Jacobson & P. Reimann (Eds.), Designs for learning environments of the future: International perspectives from the learning sciences (pp. 205-232). Secaucus, NJ: Springer.

Slotta, J. D. (2010). Evolving the classrooms of the future: The interplay of pedagogy, technology and community. In K. Mäkitalo-Siegl, F. Kaplan, J. Zottmann & F. Fischer(Eds.). Classroom of the Future. Orchestrating collaborative spaces. (215-242). Rotterdam:  Sense.

Krajcik, J., Slotta, J.D., McNeil, K. and Reiser, B. (2008). Designing Learning Environments to Support Students’ Integrated Understanding. In Y. Kali, M. C. Linn, & J. E. Roseman (Eds.), Designing Coherent Science Education. New York: Teachers College Press.



Fong, C. & Slotta, J.D. (2018).  Supporting communities of learners in the elementary classroom: The common knowledge learning environment. Instructional Science, 46(4), 533-561.

Cober, R., Tan, E., Slotta, J.D., So, H., & Könings, K.D. (2015). Teachers as participatory designers: Two case studies with technology-enhanced learning environments. Instructional Science. 43(2) 203-228.

Lui, M., & Slotta, J. D. (2014). Immersive simulations for smart classrooms: exploring evolutionary concepts in secondary science. Technology, Pedagogy and Education23(1): 57 – 80.

Chi, M.T.H., Roscoe, R., Slotta, J., Roy, M., & Chase, M. (2012). Misconceived causal explanations for "emergent" processes. Cognitive Science, 36, 1-61.

Slotta, J. D. & Chi, M. T. H. (2006).  The impact of ontology training on conceptual change: Helping students understand the challenging topics in science.  Cognition and Instruction 24(2). 261-289.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.



Research Grants and Contracts

2018 - 2023. Principal Investigator, SSHRC Insight grant. 435-2019-0539. Active Learning Communities for K-12 Science Classrooms. [CAD $316,041].

2016 - 2023. co-Principal Investigator, CIHR - Foundation Scheme - 2nd Live Pilot (B. Stevens, PI - Sick Kids Hospital). Effective Knowledge Translation Strategies for Enhancing Impact and Improving Outcomes in Infant Pain. [CAD $3,823,346].

2015 - 2017. Co-Principal Investigator, SSHRC College Community Social Innovation Fund (SSHRC-CCSIF grant #2240107. E. Charles, PI - Dawson College). Leveraging new paradigms and disruptive technologies to successfully orchestrate pedagogical change. [CAD $440,000].

2013 - 2017. Co-Principal Investigator, NSF funded project Cyberlearning grant #1324977. Community knowledge construction in the instrumented classroom. [US $1,349,844 with a CAD $564,270 subaward to the University of Toronto].

2013 - 2015. Principal Investigator, SSHRC Insight Development research grant #430-2013-000365. Learning through discourse: The impact of digital media on community healthworkers' knowledge and practices. CAD $74,242.

2012 - 2014. Co-principal investigator, NIH-funded project R34MH097563: CHAT: mHealth Innovation for HIV-MNCH Community Health Workers in South Africa. [US $262k, with CAD $67k subaward to Univ. of Toronto].

2010 - 2013. Co-Principal Investigator: NSF-funded project DRL 1031680. Promoting 21st Century Science: Technology-Enhanced Learning Across Formal and Informal Environments. [U.S. $1.13 Million, with U.S., $305,894 subaward to University of Toronto].

2009 - 2010. Principal Investigator: A role for a technology community within a research field. Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership (CCSIP). SSHRC and University of Toronto funded Project #141678 [U.S. $50,000].

2008 - 2012. Principal Investigator: Technology enhanced activities and interactions in the science classroom: pedagogical scripts for knowledge communities. SSHRC grant funded project 410-2008-2125 (CID/NIC 181093). [CAD $123,000].

2008 - 2012. Co-Principal Investigator: Science Created by You. European Union FP7-ICT-2007-1 funded project 212814. [8.5 Million Euros, with no subaward permitted for non-EU countries. Slotta is a full partner in this large collaborative project, however.

2008 - 2013 Co-Principal Investigator: NSF funded project DRL-0733299 Logging Opportunities in Online Programs for Science (LOOPS): Student and Teacher Learning. [US $2.5 Million, with US $314,029 subaward to University of Toronto].

2006 - 2010 Co-Principal Investigator: NSF funded project EEP 0550169. Developing Ontological Schema Training Methods to Help Students Develop Scientifically Accurate Mental Models of Engineering Concepts. [US $750,000, with US $178,211 subaward to University of Toronto].

2006 - 2011 Principal Investigator: CFI funded Canada Research Chair in Information Technology: Technology-Enhanced Collaboration and Inquiry for Science [CAD $332,000]

Honours and Awards

2019. Named President's Chair in Knowledge Technologies, University of Toronto

2015. SALTISE Pedagogical Innovation and Lifetime of Contribution Award

2012. Top 10 most cited articles, 2007-2001, Journal of Learning and Instruction.

2006. World Technology Award Winner (category of Education).

2006. Canada Research Chair in Education and Technology.

2005. NASA VDC "Most Usable Research Paper" (with Ingo Kollar and Frank Fischer)

2005. Best student paper, CSCL 2005 Proceedings (with Ingo Kollar and Frank Fischer).

2003. IBM Faculty Award for eLearning design

2002. National Association for Interpretation Media Awards contest. First Place (with Andrea Strauss) "Interpretive Program Curriculum"

2001. Learning Software Design Award, University of Minnesota.

Professional Activities

Keynote Addresses:

Slotta, J.D. (2019). Smart classrooms for learning communities: Researching active learning curriculum and spaces. Keynote address given to the China AERA Research Consortium. April 4, Toronto, Ontario.

Slotta, J.D. (2019). Integrating digital media, arts and technology for K-12 classrooms: A learning community approach. Keynote address to the Toronto Kids Digital Festival. Ontario College of Arts and Design (OCADU). March 12, Toronto, Ontario

Slotta, J.D. (2017). Scripting and Orchestration of a Learning Community: The Role of Models and Learning Analytics. Keynote presentation for the Fall Festival of Teaching and Learning. Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education. Utrecht, University. Utrecht, Netherlands.

Slotta, J. D. (2016). Scripting and orchestration of student inquiry in a knowledge community approach: How a pedagogical model can inform our design of individual, small group and whole class activities, materials and technology scaffolds. Keynote presentation to the European Association of Learning and Instruction, biennial meeting of the Inquiry (20) and Argumentation (26) SIGs. Aug 22-24. Ghent, Belgium.

Slotta, J.D. (2015). Orchestrating complex inquiry: Three roles for learning analytics in a smart classroom infrastructure. Keynote presentation to the Social Media in Science, GMW2015. Sept 2 - 4. Munich, Germany.

Slotta, J. D. (2009). New ways of teaching and learning with technology. KMDI at 13 keynote lecture. Feb 26. University of Toronto.

Slotta, J.D. (2008). Teaching and learning in technology enhanced classrooms. Invited Theme Presentation to the International Conference on Computers in Education. Oct. 27-31. Taipei, Taiwan.

Slotta, J. D. (2007). Making better progress in the next ten years: Open source and online community. Keynote address to the Kaleidoscope Alpine Rendez-vous conference.

Other Information

PhD students completed at Univ. of Toronto

Alisa Acosta (PhD, 2018). Scripting and Orchestration of a Knowledge Community and Inquiry Curriculum for Secondary Biology.

Steven Ehrlich (PhD, 2017). Thesis title: Building Learning Community in Post-Secondary Large Lecture Courses: A Blended Approach to Fostering Communities of Learners.

Rebecca Quintana (PhD, 2017). Thesis title: The Role of Visual Representations in a Knowledge Curriculum and Inquiry Curriculum.

Stian Haklev (PhD, 2016). Thesis title: From Seminar to Lecture to MOOC: Scripting and Orchestration at Scale.

Naxin Zhao (PhD, 2015). Thesis title: Understanding the Teacher's Role in a Knowledge Community and Inquiry Curriculum.

Michelle Lui (PhD, 2015). Thesis title: Designing EvoRoom: An Immersive Simulation Environment for Collective Inquiry in Secondary Science

Sarah Morrison (PhD, 2014). Thesis title: Engaging Student Singers: Developing Reflection and Collaboration in a Technology-Enhanced Learning Environment.

Cresencia Fong (PhD, 2014). Thesis title: Supporting Discourse and Classroom Orchestration in a Knowledge Community and Inquiry Approach.

Mike Tissenbaum (PhD, 2014). Thesis title: Supporting Collective Inquiry: A Technology Framework for Distributed Learning

Arif Anwar (PhD, 2014). Thesis title: Non-literate and Low-literate Mobile Phone Users: Do they Acquire Literacy?

Hedieh Najafi (PhD, 2012). Thesis title: Transforming Learning in Science Classrooms: A Blended Knowledge Community Approach.

Gita Wassmer (PhD, 2011). Thesis title: Supporting New School Leaders: The Benefits of Online Peer Communities.

Vanessa Peters (PhD, 2010). Thesis title: Scaffolding Knowledge Community and Inquiry in Secondary Science.

Cheryl Madeira (PhD, 2010). Thesis title: How pedagogical content knowledge develops: The impact of teacher reflections and peer exchange.