Denise C. Nacu, Ph.D.

Designer & researcher of technology tools for learning

College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University

I am a designer and researcher working at the intersection of technology, learning, and design. I co-direct the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab with Dr. Sheena Erete. I work with researchers, designers, and educators in the Digital Youth Network.

I teach user-centered design, prototyping, and evaluation methods in the Interaction and Social Media program at the College of Computing and Digital Media School of Design at DePaul University. Previously, I was Director of Design at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute where I designed and developed tools for education.

In addition to teaching, my current research and design work focuses on building frameworks, tools, and data visualizations to enable teaching and learning in online social learning networks and blended learning environments.

Our work is supported by a $1.349M grant from the National Science Foundation (Cyberlearning: Transforming Education program). This project, Developing Frameworks, Tools and Social Practices to Support Effective Instructor use of Online Social Learning Networks in Blended Learning Models, will be conducted over three years (2013-2016). I am a co-principal investigator along with my colleague Nichole Pinkard.

DePaul University announcement | About this project: "Designing and Supporting Blended Learning Environments"

Recent Publications and Presentations

Nacu, D., Martin, C.K., Pinkard, N. and Sandherr, J. (2015). Encouraging Online Contributions in Underrepresented Populations. RESPECT (Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology) conference, Charlotte, NC, August 13-14, 2015.

Nacu, D., Martin, C.K., Pinkard, N., Sandherr, J. (2015). Promoting online Latino youth voice through collaborative design. In C.K. Martin and D. Nacu (Organizers), Intentional and Inclusive Design to Create Social-Technical Learning Systems. Symposium at Digital Media and Learning Conference, Los Angeles, CA, June 11-13, 2015.

Nacu, D.C, Martin, C.K., Nichole Pinkard & Tené Gray (2014): Analyzing educators’ online interactions: a framework of online learning support roles, Learning, Media and Technology, DOI:10.1080/17439884.2015.975722

Sandherr, J., Roberson, A., Martin, C.K., Nacu, D., Acholonu, U. (2014). Distributed Mentorship: Increasing and Diversifying Youth Access to Learning Networks. Panel at the 6th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference, Boston, MA, March 7 – 9, 2014.

Nacu, D., Pinkard, N., Martin C., & Gray, T. (2013) Educator roles that support students in online environments. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in June 2013. PDF

Nacu, D., Pinkard, N, Schmidt, R., Larson, K. (2012, March) Remixing iRemix: Data Visualizations to Understand Learning and Development in Online Social Learning Networks. Presentation at the Digital Media and Learning Conference, San Francisco, CA. PDF