education's digital future

Educ 403x - Winter 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.

Educ 403x is offered throughout the 2012-2013 academic year at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Enrollment for credit is open to Stanford students.  We welcome others from across the University to audit the full course, attend selected lectures, and participate in public forums and events.

Written assignments: Some of the preparatory activity for this course will take the form of short written assignments. Details of these assignments, their submission format, and their deadlines will be clearly specified well in advance.

Note: We reserve the privilege to circulate, at our discretion and with attribution, for purposes of instruction and intellectual aggregation, any and all of the written work submitted by students and auditors for this course. In short, we will consider course contributions to be covered under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial license.

This is a one-unit, credit/no-credit course. Evaluation is based on:

  • Class attendance (documented at every class session) and participation
  • Completion of assigned preparatory activities

The course forum is at Piazza.com. Students enrolled in 403x can post questions, answer other students' questions, download assignments, and get help from classmates or instructors.
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This term we will be focusing on four broad questions:

  • How was the boundary between high school and college established, and what are the consequences and limits of this categorical distinction? How might digital media enable more flexible organization of school and the life course?
  • What is the nature of our current credentialing and accreditation system, and how does this system facilitate or inhibit innovation in the postsecondary sector? Are there alternative models for credentialing education and learning?
  • What are the latest innovations in digitally mediated instruction in STEM and humanities fields?
  • What are the prospects for gaming approaches and technologies for digital education and learning?

403x winter 2013 syllabus

The 403x White Papers:

Class schedule: 

College degrees are fundamental mechanisms by which people are sorted into jobs. The current degree credentialing system developed as a series of independently negotiated compacts between particular schools sharing similar prestige and status: courtesy agreements now being challenged by seismic changes to the political economy of US higher education. How should college credentialing happen in education’s digital future? This forum assembles four experts who will specify key problems in the current college credentialing system and offer positive new directions for credentialing going forward.

Digital technology enables transformations of teaching and learning, not simply making pre-existing forms and pedagogies digital. These transformations are enabling forms of inquiry, reasoning, and communication that more closely resemble mature practices in the disciplines. At the same time, they make new forms of educational measurement possible. These two class sessions (a first dedicated to expanding rights to know and learn in and out of school and a second encompassing new ways of teaching science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM]) will engage in questions related to the evolution of digital curricula and pedagogies and new ways of assessing learning.
Play has always been central to human learning. In the digital era the potential for learning through games and for tapping the powers of engagement that well-designed games have often fostered has drawn ever more scholarly, practitioner, and business interest. This forum will consider the opportunities and challenges of gaming to learn in education’s digital future.