Here are some thematic highlights from edf to date. Click on each one for a brief summary and more resources.
The New Data Science of Teaching and Learning
Big data are transforming research on education and the science of learning more generally. With digital curriculum aligned to Common Core Standards and the rise of formative assessments and recommendation engines for learning resources, far more extensive data are available to trace learning trajectories at granular levels of detail. Stanford is a major center for the development of this new learning knowledge. It grows at the intersection of traditional social-science disciplines, the information sciences, computer engineering, and design. Our work last year explored the cutting edge of this new world of inquiry.
New Media Literacies and Participatory Cultures
The growth and pervasiveness of digital media raise new questions about the relationship between learners, teachers, and curriculum. With whom do learners engage in digitally mediated activity, and how, if at all, should these engagements be scripted by parents and other authorities? How should we be thinking about the effects of viewing together, and viewing alone? What types of co-viewing configurations and partnerships lead to the best learning outcomes?
New Forms of College Access
What was once called a “traditional” college model of co-present instruction on a residential campus is no longer a tenable, or even desirable, goal for US national education policy. In light of the increasing recognition that much of higher education takes place online, there is a lively national debate on how college might ideally be organized and better integrated with the rhythms of the adult life course.
Education is almost always unequally distributed, with significant implications for health, wellbeing, and overall life chances. Many are optimistic that the digital mediation of teaching and learning can be used to mitigate this inequality, yet the road ahead is far from clear. Our discussions to date have explored how digital technologies have the potential to change the distribution of educational opportunities and learning in positive ways throughout the US and worldwide.
Gaming to Learn
Games have always been central to human learning. In the digital era the potential for learning through games draws ever more scholarly, practitioner, and business interest. Games will almost certainly be important parts of education’s digital future, raising intriguing questions about the role of pleasure in learning, the character of educational engagement, and the proper relationship between entertainment and academic edification.
Academic Credentials in the Digital Era
Credentialing and accreditation are crucial features of every education system. Schools certify both students and knowledge: The high school diploma and the college degree are widely recognized standards by which graduates are sorted into jobs and other social positions; named and elaborated academic programs are how societies formally ensure that certain skills and knowledge are reproduced over time. The credentialing system that currently obtains in the US developed as a series of independently negotiated compacts between particular schools sharing similar prestige and status. They were, essentially courtesy agreements that are now being challenged by seismic changes to the political economy of US higher education. How should credentialing happen in education’s digital future?
Possibilities of Digital Curriculum
As textbooks and associated learning resources go digital, the meaning of “curriculum” is in flux. Digital delivery raises large new intellectual-property questions. At the college level, curricular products have been fairly cleanly divided between published material such as textbooks, which are considered intellectual property, and syllabi, which are akin to culinary recipes—informally shared and changed by multiple users for free. All of this is changing.
Education at Scale
Since the 1960s, many American educators have anticipated the arrival of what Eric Ashby termed the Fourth Revolution: a dramatic change based on the transformative power of information technology. Yet despite a great deal of optimistic experimentation, the second half of the twentieth century saw relatively little sustained change toward digital learning. In the last decade, however, developments in consumer media, mobile technology, and ubiquitous broadband have brought a greater sense that education’s digital future may finally be arriving.
Is Higher Education a Business?
The number and variety of parties providing higher education services have exploded in recent years. With a wide array of new and often online options, college seekers need no longer assume that they will enroll on an ivy-trimmed physical campus. Nor can they assume that their private college is a tax-exempt organization. This panel explored what this newly entrepreneurial higher education means for students, parents, academic professionals, and the legacy of higher education as a public good.
The Art and Science of Online Learning Environments
There has been a great deal of discussion about the promise and problems of online learning, but less about the subtlety of building online learning environments that are scientifically sound, productive of learning, and pleasurable to experience. This panel brought two international leaders in this domain into dialogue about the technical and creative skills required to craft meaningful learning environments online.
Learning and the Life Course
The life course is changing. The extension of adolescence, lengthening lifespans, and the ever growing demands of paid work and parenting are obliging Americans to rethink every phase of adulthood. At the same time digital media are making it possible to radically reorganize how learning fits into the rhythms of adult lives. This forum assembled innovative thinkers in a wide range of fields to help us imagine bold recombinations of learning and the life course.
Whose Digital Future?
There is now little doubt that digital technology will change the character of teaching and learning in fundamental ways, but large questions remain unanswered. Should we expect new technology to enhance educational equity or create new kinds of inequality? What kinds of teachers and learners should new technologies first serve? Who will make the necessary investments in building education's digital future?