My new class is about educational technology

I will be teaching a new class starting in about a week. It’s a graduate seminar on educational technology for Georgetown University’s master’s program in learning, teaching, and design, hosted by the CNDLS program, the same fine group that hosted my fall class on the future of technology (previously, previously, previously).

This is enormously exciting for me. For one, I’ve been working in ed tech since the 1990s, so the class is an opportunity to share what I’ve learned. For another, I love teaching, and am looking forward to this new class and more students.

Here’s the class catalog description:  

This class explores the intersection of education and technology, based on this question: how can colleges and universities best use digital tools to improve learning?  We begin with a survey of ed-tech’s state of the art, building an understanding of how the field currently works while developing an awareness of its history.

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  Next we explore a series of major and emerging topics, including: social justice, technology, and education; access and equity; the relationship between pedagogy and technology; asynchronous and synchronous technologies; globalization versus the local; assessment; campus support structures and sustainability; student agency.  Technologies addressed include the learning management system (LMS), mobile devices, podcasting, video, automation, social media, open education resources (OER), and gaming. 

The structure of the class will combine discussion, hands-on work, and presentations. Every week will include the use of a different technology. Students will help contribute to the syllabus by selecting and presenting on readings. Throughout the semester each student will be expected to develop an educational technology intellectual project, which they will develop through class participation, a mid-term project, and a final creative work.

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  That concluding project will take the form of either an instance of a learning technology, a detailed course plan, a research paper (as a first step towards publication), or another digital object, following the instructor’s approval.
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Other stuff: I’m going to teach this as some kind of hybrid, depending on my physical location. So there will be asynchronous work, then synchronous either by video or in person, based on where I am. If my plans succeed, at least half of classes will include me on the same physical plane and location as my students.

The syllabus: right now it’s a kind of two dimensional thing. The x axis (time) is by tech, with each week (roughly) focusing on a different digital thing: video, LMS, audio, mobile, etc. The y axis is ideas and themes, which connect throughout.

Social justice: this is a keen concern for students in this program.

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Student democracy: I’m continuing my approach of centering the class on student agency, needs, and interests. As before, that means they control parts of the syllabus, shape our tech use, drive conversation (and I lecture rarely), and shape our agendas.

What do you all think? Any requests?

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19 Responses to My new class is about educational technology

  1. Ed Webb says:

    Given the social justice concern, will you weave in accessibility concerns and universal design?

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Yes. I’m not sure how the students will see accessibility and UDL.
      For example, will that occur under my quick header of “access and equity”?

  2. Brad Katz says:

    Willing to share you syllabus?

  3. margit watts says:

    I am right in the midst of revising/updating/tweaking my syllabus for the spring semester…which begins in three days!!! The course in on social media and when reading through your syllabus what I don’t see stated is the need for students to look at the implications of using all of that new technology. Sometimes I think it is easy for the philosophical (for lack of a better word) premises to be lost in the bells and whistles of the technology.

    However, having read your blog for a while, I am certain you haven’t lost those and just wonder where and how those will become manifest in your course.

    Still think that you should include some kind of service project in your course. After all, it is educational technology and the best way tech is used education is with hand’s on opportunities. Just my two cents worth, as usual.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      margit, greetings!

      Yes, implications and reflections will occur throughout.

      What kind of service project are you thinking of?

      PS: I’d love to see your syllabus when you can share it.

  4. Steven Kaye says:

    Spieling for Drupal aside, this Medium post raises some interesting issues, though I don’t know what’s changed since 2016. Maybe exercises like turning accessibility features on or off? Or a Q&A with someone who deals with accessibility issues on a daily basis?

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      The latter, I think. I’m going to assign students to interview key people on campus, and one should be the accessibility officer.

  5. Jedidiah Rex says:

    In terms of ed tech will you be touching on active learning classrooms and space as a technology/tool?

  6. Christine Shakespeare says:

    I’d like to have students understand the role of technology not just for pedagogy but also for the many functions involved in the institution. The future of blockchain, for instance, in the registrar function as well as in operations–such as purchasing. Some institutions have experimented with using the Apple Wallet for student IDs….and in some ways while the technology will perhaps democratize student records, it also has the usual implications about who owns the data. From my perspective (as a former administrator) technology in education can revolutionize the very analog way that institutions operate.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Excellent point. And the strategic focus is my usual one.
      I’ll have to work this in. My repeat students should be able to do so on their own.

  7. I think there’s lot to consider with regards to teaching and technology from a critical lens…I’ve been thinking about drafting a course on Critical Issues in Ed Tech or something to that effect. I think tackling issues like digital divide, technocapital, digital redlining and the like would be important editions for any folks thinking about ed and tech. Mayhaps readings from Algorithms of Oppression, Automating Inequality of Weapons of Math Destruction?

  8. Nice to see your thought process here, Bryan. I have a similar course starting next week for Northeastern…and I just added a week’s exploration of AR/VR to the syllabus. I like your emphasis on social justice as an aspect of edtech – ties in with Seth Godin’s post today on the Spiderman Paradox…too many walk away from the responsibility aspect of technology.

  9. Dahn Shaulis says:

    I’d like to know more about cheating specific to educational technology and how it can be detected and remedied.

  10. I’d love to have the chance to reflect on what it means to be a technologist. What is our contribution? Insight on some of the different paths forward, and an almost SWOT analysis of opportunities within these areas week by week.

    Excited to be part of the class!

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