Starting this semester’s seminar on education and technology

This week my new education and technology seminar began.  It’s in Georgetown University’s Learning, Design, and Technology program, and called LDES-702: Studies in Educational Technology.  I first taught it in 2019.

Here I wanted to introduce the class, starting with my plans for it, then the tentative reading and assignment schedule.

The general idea is for students to work through a different tech or tech-related practice each week.  They’ll read and engage with scholarship about the stuff, both asynchronously (online) and synchronously (in person or via video).  They will also get some hands-on work with the tech, like recording audio, creating a class in an LMS, creating an information literacy guide, etc.

Woven across those weeks are a whole series of themes and critical approaches.  From the syllabus:

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.

I want to frame these with as much historical context as the class can hold.  Meanwhile, I’m eager to see which themes the students generate and develop.

That’s because I am continuing my democratic pedagogical practice.  I want the class to be a place where each student’s experience and thinking are crucial, and where students are empowered to shape the class.  We already started discussing which technologies to use for asynchronous conversation – right now, it looks like we’ll begin with Canvas, then explore others in response to the tech we investigate.  We also created a set of rules for working together.  And the syllabus has several open spaces for the students to collectively choose themes, readings, and exercises.  I also left open some readings so that I can better pick ones as I get to know the students and their interests.

More on pedagogy: since this is a graduate seminar most of the class time will consist of discussion and some hands-on experimentation.  As usual I’ll try to shun lectures, but will be ready to do mini-presentations for key topics on the fly (only) as needed.  My official statement:

Pedagogically this class combines project-based learning, discussion, constructivism, and educational technology.  You will each play a key role in creating and sharing meaning – collaboratively – as we explore this subject together.  The class is yours, and so you have a say in how it goes and is shaped.

And now, the schedule.  Note that some of the readings aren’t specifically about that week’s technology, but advance themes we explore throughout the semester.

January 15     Introductions

  • What is ed tech?
  • What technology do you use?
  • How should we organize this class together?

January 22     LMS and the Web

Technology exercises:

  1. develop a strategy for tracking ed tech digitally
  2. explore Hypothesis

January 29     Digital and information literacy

Technology exercise: create your own digital literacy guide

February 5     Learning spaces

Technology exercise: redesign the classroom

February 12   Open

Technology exercise: post two CC-licensed content items to the Web

February 19   Audio

Technology exercise: create an audio file with at least two tracks.  Upload to Soundcloud.  Share with class digitally and in synchronous session.

February 26   Video

Technology exercise: assemble a video with images, video, and soundtrack; share with class.


March 4         Mobile

Technology exercise: TBD

[March 11 – no classes; spring break]

March 18       Universal design, accessibility

  • Reading TBD

Technology exercise: pick an educational web page or other digital content; plan a redesign for accessibility

March 25       Gaming

  • Reading TBD
  • Student-selected reading TBD

Technology exercise: produce an interactive lesson in Twine or alternative tool

April 1            VR

  • Reading TBD
  • Student-selected reading TBD

Technology exercise: TBD

April 8            student choice: future trends

  • Student-selected reading TBD

Technology exercise: TBD

April 15          student choice

  • Student-selected reading TBD

Technology exercise: TBD

April 22          student presentations




The mid-term project is an annotated bibliography aimed at each student’s final project.  Final project: “This 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.”

Onward!  And good luck to my students, as this will be a wild ride.

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9 Responses to Starting this semester’s seminar on education and technology

  1. Jason Guzman says:

    Some really great resources here I’m seeing for the first time so thanks for sharing Bryan. I especially appreciated all the resources on teaching with video.

    I wanted to add another suggestion. This is Columbia’s site on Teaching with Do-It-Yourself Video which also has some great resources.

  2. Bryan – Since I work directly with faculty in the design of their courses, the discussion of educational technology is a key focus of attention. Specifically, my role is to foster the creative mindset of asking what is possible in teaching and learning given the available systems out there for curating/editing/creating media, for participating in or constructing social networks/communities, or for organizing information and presenting it.

    In support of these discussions, I have written an OER e-book “Teaching with Rich Media” which outlines the fundamental questions about why we would need to use any educational technology – something other than traditional text-based media – in instruction. The book also establishes some key observations about how communication, transactional distance, sensemaking, and sensegiving factor into the selections and pedagogical executions using rich media.

    I invite interested educators and students to review the work I offer in this OER resource:

    • That is a very nice online e-book (with the option to download). Thank you for freely providing such a great resource. I also really enjoyed you mentioning the Kozma vs. Clark delivery medium arguments (a nice blast from the past but still important to understand). You also provide great information dealing assessment and even have a handy example rubric for others to use. Thank you.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Steve, bravo! I’ll share it.

  3. This looks really good and interesting on many levels. Thank you for being sure to address accessibility/universal design, so many professors skip over this important area.

    How are you addressing the aspects of relevancy and reflection? I’m thinking you will work to facilitate this during the discussions? I ask because I have found that both relevancy and reflection need to be explicitly addressed otherwise students often do not realize the extreme importance these have for deep learning, motivation, persistence, and long term retention.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Thank you, Brent.

      Relevance and reflection: do you mean how to use the technology to get students seeing the relevance of materials and reflecting on them?

      • Hi Bryan,

        You have a lot of great hands-on aspects to this course which is awesome! In ensuring the relevance aspect I meant that I have found that it is important to explicitly state the importance/relevance of the material being learned. Your introduction section focuses on “what” and “how” but my suggestion would be to also include a “why” section (Why Educational Technology is Important). I know it is implied, but I have found that it needs to be explicit in order for all to grasp the relevance/importance and answer students’ “so what”, “why is this important to me personally” type of questions that they would hopefully ask, but would definitely have either consciously or subconsciously.

        My other suggestion dealing with “reflection” was expressed to ensure that the full experiential learning cycle (Kolb) is experienced by the student (having an experience, reflections, conceptualization, experimentation, then repeated). This would work great through the multiple discussions you plan to have within this course as well as making it part of their presentations or essays (adding a personal reflection aspect to the assignments).

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