education's digital future

educ 403x - Spring 2013

This course provides intellectual context and regular occasion for critical dialogue about transformations in teaching, learning, and education facilitated by the expansion of digital media throughout society. Our goals are to:

  1. surface and discuss foundational questions about how educational practices and institutions are organized
  2. provide opportunities for the Stanford community to think together about how digital media might change the character of teaching and learning in fundamental ways

Education’s digital future will be shaped only very partially by technology. The politics, organization, funding, content, and ethics of education and schooling will define that future, and therefore are squarely within the purview of our discussions.

Background: Fall & Winter Quarters

During Fall Quarter we built a broad intellectual foundation pertaining to the histories and contemporary experiences of education’s digital expressions. We had serious discussion about themes such as living digitally, the changing relationship between school and work, rock star teachers, digital technologies in K-12, and the political economy of US higher education. In Winter Quarter we explored four broad themes: the changing boundaries between high school and college, credentialing and accreditation, STEM / open source curricular innovations, and gaming to learn. In Spring Quarter we will examine questions related to new forms of college access, deciphering the digital divide, learning analytics and new educational and learning sciences, and media literacy and youth cultures.

Spring Quarter 2013

We will build on the knowledge generated in 403x to date, but will consider a set of discrete themes for which participation in fall and winter quarter is not requisite. For students new to 403x in Spring, overviews of Fall and Winter quarters will be available.

Spring themes are the following:

  1. Deciphering the digital divide (weeks one, two, three, four)
    This series of classes will pursue the question of how educational opportunities and learning outcomes are stratified across populations. We will explore how the introduction of digital technologies has the potential to change the patterns by which educational opportunities and learning are distributed both in the U.S. and abroad. While the digital divide and associated concerns have been in the policy lexicon now for many years, recent changes in the geographies of broadband internet access, new technologies for learning, and new models for knowledge delivery around the world give rise to new questions and new capacities for assessing the distributive implications of education’s digital future. As part of this series we will host a public forum on Tuesday 23 April.
  2. Learning analytics, and new educational and learning sciences (weeks five, six, seven)
    Here we explore some of what is new in education and learning research, in light of new capacities to collect and make sense of the massive quantities of user data made available through digitally mediated tools. The means to make sense of these data are found at the intersection of the social sciences (the historical cognates of education research) and, increasingly, the computational sciences. We will explore both the rise of new forms of educational data and the meeting of scientific traditions, as well as the types of questions we may now be in a position to explore as a result of these changes.
  3. New forms of college access (week eight)
    This class will examine contemporary dynamics in the ecology of broad-access colleges and universities. In light of the increasing recognition that much of higher education in the U.S. and elsewhere takes place in non-residential institutions such as community and technical colleges, this class brings to light ways in which digital education is currently being deployed and considered in these contexts. The session will feature a panel of experts who will speak to the digital articulations of new forms of college attendance and participation. Public forum 21 May.
  4. New media literacies and participatory culture (weeks nine and ten)
    In light of the increasing recognition that much of learning takes place in non-school contexts these sessions will focus on what we know about learning and participation in youth cultures, and in particular around new media. 403x will conclude with a public forum on this theme on Tuesday 4 June.
Class schedule: 

Major attention is being devoted to issues of digital divides and educational inequalities as nations and states design and implement strategies for K-12 technology-enhanced learning in an increasingly networked world. What approaches to tackling these issues are being attempted in the United States and around the globe, and what is being learned about what happens 'on the ground' when such strategies are implemented?

Panelists: Mark Warschauer (UC Irvine) and Wayne Grant (Intel).

Mark Warschauer
Mark Warschauer (UC Irvine)
Wayne Grant
Wayne Grant (Intel)

Mark Warschauer is Professor of Education and Informatics, Associate Dean of the School of Education, and director of the Digital Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Warschauer’s research focuses on the intersection of new technology use with educational reform, language and literacy development, and educational equity. His books include Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide (MIT Press), Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom (Teachers College Press), and, most recently, Learning in the Cloud, How (and Why) to Transform Schools with Digital Media (Teachers College Press).

Dr. Wayne Grant is the Director of Research and Planning for the Education Market Platforms Group at Intel Corporation, where he leads a team of ethnographers and other social scientists, designers and architects to define technology platforms for the education market. One of these solutions is the Intel-powered classmate PC, designed for elementary school students based on years of ethnographic research around the world. Prior to joining Intel, Dr. Grant was the Chief Education Officer at PASCO. He was President and founder of ImagiWorks, VP of Educational Products at Knowledge Revolution, Principal Scientist at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, and Senior Scientist with Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT). Dr. Grant received his PhD in Science Education at Stanford Graduate School of Education in 1993.

Academic leaders are rethinking the purposes, costs, and consequences of college residence and student co-presence in the digital era. This forum investigates possibilities for reconfiguring the time, space, and experience of college brought about by the digital revolution.

Laura Hamilton
Laura Hamilton
Stephen Kosslyn
Stephen Kosslyn
Ann Kirschner
Ann Kirschner
Brian Murphy
Brian Murphy
Carlin Llorente
Carlin Llorente
Lori Takeuchi
Lori Takeuchi
Savitha Moorthy
Savitha Moorthy

Roy Pea will moderate a panel discussion on several LIFE Center related projects on this topic. Participants to include (invited): Carlin Llorente and Savitha Moorthy (SRI International), and Lori Takeuchi (Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Sesame Workshop).


Carlin Llorente is a researcher and evaluator in SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. He studies media and technology supported learning, afterschool programs and other informal and casual learning environments, informal science learning, and non-traditional forms of assessment. His interests center on how current and emerging technologies may support new opportunities for learning (and teaching), especially for the economically and socially disadvantaged.

Carlin leads and contributes to a range of research, evaluation, and consulting projects, including the summative evaluation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Ready to Learn initiative, the research study on Joint Engagement with Media within the Learning in Formal and Informal Environments (LIFE) Science of Learning Center, and the After School Science Networks study.

Prior to joining SRI, he was a project director and research and development associate at Education Development Center.

Llorente has a self-designed B.A. degree in liberal arts from The Evergreen State College and an Ed.M. degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Lori Takeuchi, PhD is Director of Research for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, where she oversees research projects, partnerships, and publications. A learning scientist by training, she conducts research on how children use digital media across the various settings of their lives, and the implications these tools hold for their cognitive, social, and identity development. Before earning her PhD from Stanford’s Learning Sciences and Technology Design program, she designed science simulations and visualization software for companies including BBN Educational Technologies, Logal/Riverdeep, and WorldLink Media. Lori began her career managing the Instructional Television Department at New York’s Thirteen/WNET.

Savitha Moorthy is an education researcher at SRI’s Center for Technology in Learning. Her research focuses on how media and technology can support STEM instruction across a variety of grade levels, from preschool to middle school.

Savitha’s recent projects emphasize new directions in science education. Her work explores the orchestration of classroom talk in the context of media rich activities can support science teaching and learning, and engage students in scientific reasoning, explanation, and argumentation. She is interested in understanding how science classrooms can be organized so that students are doing science, and thinking and talking like scientists.

Brigid Barron (Stanford Graduate School of Education)
Brigid Barron
(Stanford Graduate School of Education)
Nichole Pinkard (DePaul University)
Nichole Pinkard
(DePaul University)
Elisabeth Soep
Elisabeth Soep MA '95, PhD '00
(Oakland’s Youth Radio)

Panelists: Brigid Barron (Stanford Graduate School of Education), Nichole Pinkard (DePaul University), Elisabeth Soep MA '95, PhD '00 (Oakland’s Youth Radio)

What it means to be "literate" continues to expand as new media and new expressive forms co-evolve in the digital era. This forum features cutting-edge inquiries in under-resourced public schools and neighborhoods -- in which students work with mentors in creating video, radio, animations, spoken word poetry, and other media that advance 21st-century communication and interpretation skills. The panel will be co-hosted by Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Paulo Blikstein.


Brigid Barron is an Associate Professor at the School of Education at Stanford, is a faculty co-lead of the LIFE center, and directs the YouthLab research group. A developmental and clinical psychologist by training, she studies social processes of learning in and out of school. In a five year NSF supported CAREER award she documented adolescents’ learning ecologies (e.g. learning opportunities across home, school, libraries, virtual communities, clubs, camps) for technological fluency development across diverse communities in the Silicon Valley region. This work used longitudinal methods to document the evolution of interest-based activities, mapping children’s learning to reveal the networks of partners and resources that have supported learning in and out of school. These methods were further developed in a three year grant funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that followed students longitudinally as they participate in programs designed to develop their technological fluency through activities such as game design, robotics, and digital movie making. A special focus of this work is articulating what develops as children engage in formal and informal collaborative learning to make and create with new technologies. Most recently, with funding from the National Science Foundation’s Cyberlearning program, she is investigating how networked technologies can generate excitement and expertise development among middle school students learning to become citizen scientists in the state of Maine.

Nichole Pinkard  believes that digitally literate kids — those who can critically consume and produce alternative media — grow up to be better citizens. With a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, and an M.S. in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University, she is an Associate Professor in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University, and is the founder of Digital Youth Network and RemixLearning. Both organizations focus on developing digital literacies as tools for extending traditional literacies. Dr. Pinkard is also a co-founder of YOUmedia, a public learning space that immerses high school students in a context of traditional media — books — where they make and produce new media artifacts such as music, games, videos, and virtual worlds.

Elisabeth Soep MA '95, PhD '00 is Senior Producer and Research Director at Youth Radio, the Oakland-based, youth-driven production company that serves as NPR’s official youth desk. The Youth Radio stories Lissa has produced with teen reporters for public media outlets have been recognized with honors including two Peabody Awards, three Murrow Awards, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. With a PhD from Stanford University’s School of Education, Lissa has written about digital media and learning for academic journals (Harvard Educational Review, National Civic Review, Comunicar ); popular outlets (Boing Boing, NPR, Edutopia); and books including Drop that Knowledge (Soep & Chávez, UC Press) and Youthscapes (Maira & Soep, UPenn Press). With Asha Richardson, she co-founded Youth Radio’s Mobile Action Lab, which was among the first projects world-wide in which youth partner with professional designers and developers to create mobile apps that engage their communities. She lectures around the country and has taught graduate classes on ethnography and urban education, most recently at UC Berkeley. In 2011, Lissa became one of six members of the MacArthur Foundation’s Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network, which explores how young people are using digital and social media to express voice and exert influence in public spheres. For more than ten years, Lissa served on the Board of Directors of the United States’ premier youth poetry organization, Youth Speaks (HBO series, 2009 & 2010), where she now serves as an advisor.