For all of you who have followed EDUC 403x through this first quarter - thank you so much for your interest. We invite you to join the conversation via the "Join Us", and to enroll in our winter quarter course if you are a Stanford student.
This final class of the fall quarter of EDUC 403x was devoted to the final presentations from our six groups. Each group was tasked with sifting through one week's class discussion and online forum posts in order to create a curated "white paper" that could synthesize and introduce the main themes of the course. Each group also presented their work in a quick 5-minutes, 3-slide presentation, followed by questions and discussion. The six groups:
Group 1: "Living Digitally" (Molly Bullock, Julia Cambre, Kareem Edouard, Rene Kizilcec, Albert Lim, Jason Randolph)
Group 1 managed to take Roy's already-succinct summary of the coming digital transformations of everyday life and compact it further into a catalog of changes at individual, communal, and societal levels. Our class was deeply ambivalent about the value and likelihood of these changes, which ranged from the distractions and enhancements of "augmented reality" to the research potential and privacy concerns of big data.
Group 2: "Reflections on Online Higher Education" (Paul Franz, Tanner Vea, Liam Aiello, Dan Meyer, Ritu Tandon)
Group 2 focused on the discussion that followed Adrian Sannier's talk on the transformative power of technology in higher ed. They shared the collective reservations about a possible future in which online courses have made middle-tier university lecturers into de facto teaching assistants for the superstars teaching online courses. They also surveyed some of the creative names students coined for our revolution - for example, "Wild-Westernization" reflecting the degree of choice available to learners.
Group 3: "What Is a University?" (Max Alexander, Manwen Ivy Guo, Hsiaolin Hsieh, Tyler McNally, Brian Perone, Yongjian Si)
What functions do universities serve - as a "temple" for consecrating official knowledge, a "hub" for elites to meet, a "sieve" to justify systemic inequalities...? Group 3 examined the class discussion around the many roles played by the multifaceted organizations known as universities. In a creative use of technology, they created a word cloud from the Stanford home-page text as a way of visualizing the elements of a university, and discussed some of the pieces that could be removed from a university (e.g. research, sports, a physical campus) that might still preserve its function.
Group 4: "21st-century competencies in the Modern Lifeworld" (Hallie Fox, Stephen Frey, Shuchi Grover, Emily Schneider, Betsy Williams, Jennifer Der Yuen)
Group 4 began by describing the sociological concept of the "lifeworld" - the spaces in which people carry out the typical activities of their lives. The 20th century has seen multiple radical rearrangements of the lifeworld, most prominently with the activities of "work" and "school" leaving the home setting. With this in mind, the group outlined some of the risks and opportunities for digital technology to support core competencies, like critical thinking, teamwork, and creativity, that people bring to work and home.
Group 5: "Panel on Digital Technologies in K-12" (Ben Lei, Galina Meyer, Greg Bybee, Joshua Mendoza, Kristen Howell, Lucy Li)
Group 5 tackled the rich discussion around our panel on technology in K-12 education by drawing a distinction between advocates, who saw digital technology as an unstoppable and transformative force that would soon force schools to remodel, and skeptics who largely recognized technology's value but pointed out the organizational resistance in school systems. Access, implementation details, and teacher and student buy-in remain under-discussed topics in a climate of entrepreneurial hype.
Group 6: "Panel on the Future of Assessment" (Engin Bumbacher, Becca Constantine, David Lopez, Simon Wiles, Benje Williams, Johnny Winston)
Group 6 summarized our discussion on assessment by looking at where we are and where we might be headed. Current assessment methods, while in some ways powerful, are data-poor when compared to the kind of rich process data that can be obtained in online environments. In addition, online assessments can create more valid and generalizable open-ended problems that assess some of the 21st-century competencies discussed previously. However, the dangers of over-interpretation remain, and may even increase as early online assessments bring an unearned sense of authenticity to what remains an imprecise endeavor.