I am a designer, developer & researcher of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) experiences since 1999. My specific expertise is in Learner Centred & Contextual Design methods. I am a co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Design in Educational Technology (2013).

I have Masters degrees in Human Centred Computing Systems, and Cognition, Computing & Psychology, a post-graduate EFL teaching diploma, a degree in Biochemistry and I am a PhD candidate at the LKL, IOE.

My TEL design & research experience includes:

  • Connecting learning experiences across in/formal settings (e.g. Homework: primary maths at home & school using tablets - see BBC news report & video),
  • Supporting ubiquitous science inquiry learning (e.g. e-Science learning) and collaborative and participatory science learning experiences (e.g. e-Science usability) using mobile devices.
  • Participatory design for sustained self-directed vocabulary learning (miLexicon) exploiting mobile and social technologies.
  • Supporting medical decision making and workplace collaboration and learning (e.g. INTERPRET diagnostic support for neuro-radiologists).
Currently, I am:

Recent Activity

Design & Teaching

Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum - Week 2 on the UK Open University - Open Learning Design Studio


MiLexicon mentioned in Prof. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme's EDMEDIA2012 keynote

MiLexicon research mention by Ann Foreman at Strelka, Moscow 2011

MiLexicon mentioned in Prof. Mike Sharples' EuroCALL 2011 keynote presentation

Recent Publications

Handbook of Design in Educational Technology, Edited by Rosemary Luckin, Sadhana Puntambekar, Peter Goodyear, Barbara L Grabowski, Joshua Underwood, Niall Winters.

Luckin, R., Underwood, J., Porayska-Pomsta, K., Johnson, L., Friedland, L.E. (2012) Personalise: Utilise artificial intelligence to personalise teaching and learning. In System Upgrade – Realising the Vision for UK education (Knoss, R.). A report from the ESRC/EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning. ISBN 978-0-85473-925-7

Underwood, J., & Luckin, R. (2013) Design in Educational Technology: The Design Process. In Handbook of Design in Educational Technology, Edited by Rosemary Luckin, Sadhana Puntambekar, Peter Goodyear, Barbara L Grabowski, Joshua Underwood, Niall Winters.

Luckin, R., Clark, W., Underwood, J. (2013) The Ecology of Resources: A Theoretically Grounded Framework for Designing Next Generation Technology Rich Learning. In Handbook of Design in Educational Technology, Edited by Rosemary Luckin, Sadhana Puntambekar, Peter Goodyear, Barbara L Grabowski, Joshua Underwood, Niall Winters.

Luckin, R., Clark, W., Underwood, J. (2013) Putting the Ecology of Resources Design Framework to Use with Language Learners’ Contexts. In Handbook of Design in Educational Technology, Edited by Rosemary Luckin, Sadhana Puntambekar, Peter Goodyear, Barbara L Grabowski, Joshua Underwood, Niall Winters.

Doctoral Research

Contextual learning design narratives: Supporting self-directed vocabulary learning trajectories using mobile & social media

I am finishing writing up my thesis. My doctoral research explored ways of supporting self-directed vocabulary learning through mobile app design. I developed an Android app (miLexicon) as a technology-probe and used this to engage learners in participatory "design in the wild". My research applied and refined a contextual learning design method (Luckin 2010) through design research. My doctoral research was supervised  

at LKLIOE, University of London, by 

Prof. Rose Luckin and Niall Winters


Outcomes include: 
  • A prototype app (miLexicon); 
  • Detailed analysis of narrative accounts of vocabulary learning and learners' use of miLexicon over periods of 6 weeks to 6 months and development of a technique for analysis of contingencies in learning trajectories;
  • Validation of design features to promote and support learners' in converting incidental encounters with new vocabulary into opportunities for deliberate learning through personal and collaborative inquiry;
  • Identification of the need for better support (prompting, nudging) for more sustained and deeper engagement with new vocabulary;
  • Participants' re-designs of the miLexicon app to better motivate, support and regulate sustained deep engagement with new vocabulary. 
  • A revised contextual design framework integrating narrative data and scenarios.


Phase 1) 

Mapping context & potentially available resources

Initial design of miLexicon was informed by 1) the EoR's learner-centred model of context, 2) analysis of existing research in Mobile Assisted Language Learning


interviews with successful language learners about their vocabulary learning. 

- Analysis supported the idea of using mobile apps to help capture new vocabulary and emphasised the need to allow learners to configure their own preferred resources for investigating and sharing new vocabulary (support end-user design).

Phase 2) Understanding relationships & trajectories 

This phase looked particularly at how learners' relationships with available resources (context) change and the contingencies between events and interactions over the course of successful vocabulary learning 

trajectories. In initial iterations of this phase I used analysis of narrative accounts of vocabulary learning and of my own experiences of using mobile and social media to support my own vocabulary learning (auto-ethnography). In later phases I used log data and participatory analysis of learners' experiences of using miLexicon in the wild.
- In the first iteration analysis indicated the potential for mobile apps to support trajectories for self-initiated personal and collaborative inquiry through guiding users' in capturing encounters with new vocabulary and directly accessing resources for inquiring into this vocabulary and sharing it. Second iteration analysis revealed the need to prompt and motivate more sustained and complete inquiry into new vocabulary and help learners regulate their vocabulary learning.

Phase 3) Designing adjustments and scaffolds 
Initial designs were grounded in opportunities identified through phase 1 & phase 2 analysis. This led to the development of a highly configurable Android app for use as a technology probe (miLexicon). MiLexicon aimed to communicate some of the opportunities for mobile and social vocabulary learning identified in the first 2 phases and enable exploration of these "in the wild" as well as capturing data about how it was used. I used miLexicon myself for more than 12 months and six other language learners, with expertise in TEL design, used miLexicon 'in the wild' for self-motivated vocabulary learning over periods ranging from 1 to 6 months. 
- A second iteration of participatory design was facilitated through collaborative sketching. This involved all those who had used miLexicon 'in the wild' and resulted in concrete designs for mobile apps to better motivate and support learners in more sustained inquiry and regulation of their vocabulary learning.

See here for more about miLexicon

Project publications

Publication citation counts are available on Microsoft AcademicGoogle Scholar


 DBLPERIC - Education Resources Information Centre

Below are some of my publications organised by project:


Thesis submission expected Dec 2012

Underwood, J., Luckin, R., Winters, N (2012) Managing resource ecologies for mobile, personal and collaborative self-directed language learning In Proceedings of EuroCALL 2010 - Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences  

Presentation at CSCL2011: Retelling Stories: Setting Learner Narratives in Resource Ecologies, In: Proceedings CSCL 2011 p.611-615

Presentation at CAL 2011Designing ubiquitous support for self-initiated foreign language inquiry learning: A mobile personal language learning environment

Presentation at Stellar network Alpine Rendevouz 2011: Methods for next generation TEL  

Presentation at EuroCALL 2010: Managing Resource Ecologies for Mobile, Personal and Collaborative Self-directed Language Learning  (slides)

Presentation at ITEC 2010miLexicon: Harnessing Resources for Personal and Collaborative Language InquiryUnderwood, J., Luckin, R., Winters. (2011).In S. Wannemacker, G. Clarebout, P. De Causmaecker (Eds.): Interdisciplinary Approaches to Adaptive Learning: A Look at the Neighbours First International Conference on Interdisciplinary Research on Technology, Education and Communication, ITEC 2010, Kortrijk, Belgium, May 25-27, 2010CCIS 126, pp. 87–98, 2011. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. 

Underwood, J., Luckin, R., Winters, N (2010) Modelling Context to Provide Adaptive Support for Inquiry-based Foreign Language & Culture Learning. unpublished - available online.

Paper Presentation at CSCL2009 doctoral consortium: Designing Technology Enhanced Learning Contexts, In: Proceedings of the 9th international conference on Computer supported collaborative learning, ISLS. (preprint)


Design and development of a decision support system for brain tumor diagnosis using NMR & MRS data. 

Tate AR, Underwood J, Acosta DM et al. (2006) Development of a decision support system for diagnosis and grading of brain tumours using in vivo magnetic resonance single voxel spectra. NMR Biomed 19:411–434


Using Tablet PCs with primary school children and their parents to connect learning at home and in schools. 

Luckin, R., Underwood, J., du Boulay, B., Holmberg, J., Kerawalla, L., O'Connor, J., Smith, H., and Tunley, H. (2006). Designing Educational Systems Fit for Use: A Case Study in the Application of Human Centred Design for AIED, International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education,16, 353-380.

Public understanding of e-Science 

Designing ubiquitous technology-enhanced learning activities to explore and communicate future technology-enhanced collaborative science research. 

Underwood, J., Smith, H., Luckin, R. and Fitzpatrick, G. (2008) E-Science in the classroom - Towards viability. Computers and Education 50 (2), pages 535-546

e-Science Usability 

Designing technology-enhanced participatory science learning activities that connect school science, research scientists and science in day to day life. 

Joshua Underwood, Rosemary Luckin, Hilary Smith et al., Reflections on Participatory Science for TELSci2.0, Proceedings of Science 2.0 workshop, ECTEL2009


Investigating and designing appropriate ICT for rural Kenya. 

Kevin Walker , Joshua Underwood , Tim Waema et al., A resource kit for participatory socio-technical design in rural kenya, CHI '08 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, April 05-10, 2008, Florence, Italy


Visiting researcher at the LKL - Institute of EducationLondon.


Independent consultant on TEL projects, teacher training sessions TEL design workshops.

PhD Candidate at IOE, Learner Centred Design


MSc Human Centred Computing Systems - distinction, University of Sussex

MSc Cognition, Computing & PsychologyWarwick University

BSc Biochemistry, University of Sussex

Postgraduate diploma Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Brighton University