Seiji Isotani
Professor of Computer Science and Learning Technology
University of Sao Paulo
  • Email:
  • Office:
    ICMC 4-135
  • Tel:
    +55 16 3373-6720
Gamification in Education
AI in Education
Evidence-based Policy in Brazil
Ontology Engineering

Seiji Isotani

Transforming research findings into social impact!

<code> I work to </code>
Years of Research Experience
Completed Projects
 Scientific Publications
Honors and Awards


Seiji Isotani is an educational technologist, scientist, educator and innovator. He is a Professor of Computer Science and Learning Technology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he also serve as head of the Applied Computing in Education Laboratory.
As of July 2022, he will be a Visiting Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA.
Prof. Isotani holds a Ph.D. in Information Engineering from Osaka University, Japan, and a M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Sao Paulo (USP). Before joining USP, Prof. Isotani worked as a postdoctoral researcher associated with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
Prof. Isotani has dedicated his research career to advancing the science concerning how people learn with interactive/intelligent educational technologies (i.e. adaptive technologies) and on untangling potential mechanisms for ensuring that every student receives the personalized support that they need to engage in fulfilling and meaningful educational experiences. With a particular interest in the context of Brazilian and Latin American education.
He has produced numerous articles published in journals and highly selective conference proceedings with international audiences. He has also co-authored journal articles and conference papers in Portuguese to reach local audiences including teachers, young researchers, and policymakers in Brazil. Some of the articles received best paper awards, and several of his advisees won the Best Thesis of the Year Award in educational technology from the Brazilian Computer Society. He co-founded two startups, one in the field of education that received several innovation awards and have impacted hundreds of thousands of students in Brazil.
He was one of pioneers in the country on research related to the development and assessment of interactive technologies to support mathematics education using Dynamic Geometry Systems, particularly for mobile devices. Currently, his most significant contributions lie in the fields of Gamification in education and Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED). By designing experiments and creating algorithms able to elucidate students' behaviors, backgrounds, and patterns of interactions, his group has investigated ways of adapting and personalizing gamification (i.e., the use of game design elements in non-game contexts) in educational environments to improve students' motivation, participation, and attention to learning tasks, typical challenges encountered in schools in Brazil and Latin America. Together with his advisees, he has developed methods of gamification design, including a gamification taxonomy for learning, and techniques of personalization using information from students and tasks that have driven students' interests in learning, positive behaviors, heightened engagement with instructional materials, and greater academic gains. Each of those achievements was grounded in rigorous research, including several experiments using intelligent tutoring and educational systems with hundreds of K-16 students from Brazil and other countries demonstrating the benefits of offering individualized support, particularly for students who struggle to learn mathematics and programming. Furthermore, according to recent literature reviews from Swacha (2021) and Trinidad et al. (2021), Prof. Isotani is the leading contributor to the field of gamification in education and among the top contributors to the field of gamification research in the last decade.
In Brazil, the recognition of his work on educational technology led to appointments as a scientific advisor to local and federal governments on designing educational policies and creating technologies to manage their implementation as a means to address the challenges of democratizing access to high-quality education. By co-leading and engaging a team of researchers, educators, policymakers, and software engineers, Prof. Isotani has helped the design and implementation of several policies. These include:

  • Evidence-based policies to facilitate the assessment, acquisition and adoption of educational technologies, with empirical evidence of learning benefits
  • A policy for online professional development programs to empower practitioners to use and evaluate educational technologies
  • A policy to evaluate and select books for K-12 education using online interactive tools.
Their initial assessment has yielded several benefits. For example, these policies have been instrumental in establishing national standards for assessing educational technologies, for increased transparency of the evaluation processes, and for the creation of incentives for companies to conduct experimental studies with the aim of designing improved and more effective educational products.
Going forward, he is interested in investigating several factors that affect learning with technology in Brazil and Latin America and unleash the enormous potential of technologies to help students, teachers and policymakers reach their maximum potential. To that end, many unanswered questions will have to be addressed, including the following to name a few:

  • What are the data that should be collected, and how do we collect them in order to gain a comprehensive overview of students' and teachers' needs and struggles?
  • How can technologies be created to make online and blended classrooms more personalized, inclusive, and motivating?
  • How can vulnerable students be detected at scale and policies created that use technology to reach them?
  • Beyond that, what set of policies for the more effective use of technology in education should be developed to face future pandemics and other global crises?
He has contributed to the scientific community by offering support and leadership throughout the years. He served as the Editor in Chief of the Brazilian Journal of Computers in Education , Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies , Member of the Municipal Council of Education of São Carlos, Co-Chair of National Evaluation Committees, and Co-Chair of several national and international conferences. He is currently member of the Executive Committee of the International Artificial Intelligence in Education Society , Vice-President of the Brazilian Academy of Educational Technologies , member of the Steering Committee of the Innovation Network for Brazilian Education , Senior Member of the ACM and IEEE, Associate Editor of the Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence - Section AI for Human Learning and Behavior Change , and CNPq fellow (tier DT-1D).


  • Seiji is proud of being a dad of two wonderful kids who enlighten his path together with his wife. They make him aspire to be a better person every day.
  • He has practiced Judo for about 30 years. He won two national titles (1 individual, 1 team), 7 state championships (4 individual, 3 teams), and several interstate competitions.
  • He decided to not pursue a professional Judo career to follow his passion of carrying out reseach on educational technologies and helping his fellow students and teachers.
  • In 2007, while a Ph.D. student in Japan, he created together with his colleagues several iniciatives to motivate and support disadvantaged Latin American students living in Japan. These iniciatives are still in place helping students today!
  • He is a manga and anime fan.
  • He loves ice cream, lamen, and brazilian barbecue (churrasco!).

Photos - Miscellaneous

Seiji Isotani