Professor of the Practice
Janet Kolodner’s research has addressed a wide variety of issues in learning, memory, and problem solving, both in computers and in people. During the 1980's, she pioneered the computer method called case-based reasoning, which allows a computer to reason and learn from its experiences. The first case-based design aids (CBDA'S) came from her lab. Archie-2, for example, helped architecture students with conceptual design.
During the early 1990's, Kolodner and her students used the cognitive model implied by case-based reasoning to address issues in creative design. JULIA planned meals, Creative JULIA figured out what to do with leftover rice, and ALEC simulated Alexander Graham Bell in his invention of the telephone.
Also beginning in the 1990's, she has been designing middle school science curriculum and learning technologies informed by case-based reasoning’s cognitive model. Learning by Design is a design-driven learning approach and an inquiry-oriented project-based approach to science learning that has children learn science from their design experiences. The sequencing of activities in the classroom encourages students to reflect on their design and science experiences in ways that CBR says are appropriate for integrating them well into memory. LBD curriculum units and the sequencing structures in LBD are integrated into a published full 3-year middle-school science curriculum called Project-Based Inquiry Science (PBIS).
Kolodner’s more recent has included investigating how to help pre-teens and young teens consider who they are as thinkers and come to value informed decision making and informed production and consumption of evidence in the context of design-based learning activities. In Kitchen Science Investigators, 5th and 6th graders come to think about themselves as scientific reasoners and kitchen scientists in the context of cooking and baking. In Hovering Around, they do so in the context of designing hovercraft. An investigation of the use of Harvard’s EcoMUVE in middle-school classrooms has led to suggestions about how to design virtual worlds in support of learning so that they motivate and sustain engagement in addition to affording deep learning.
Kolodner was founding Director of Georgia Tech's EduTech Institute (1993-1996). She served as coordinator of Georgia Tech's cognitive science program for many years. She is founding Editor in Chief of The Journal of the Learning Sciences (1989-2008). She is a founder of the International Society for the Learning Sciences and served as its first Executive Officer (2003-2005). From 2010 - 2014, Kolodner was a program officer at the US National Science Foundation and led efforts to establish and sustain the Cyberlearning Program.
Inaugural Fellow, International Society of the Learning Sciences, 2017
Regents’ Professor Emerita, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2014
Career Award, International Society of the Learning Sciences, 2011
Editor-in-Chief Emerita, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2008
Regents’ Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004
Fellow, American Association for Artificial Intelligence, 1992
Governor, Cognitive Science Society (elected post), 1991-1997