Teaching this spring: an educational technology seminar

Posted on February 15, 2021 by Bryan Alexander

My spring seminar on education and technology is starting this week. It’s a graduate class with students in Georgetown University’s Learning, Design, and Technology MA program.

Here I’ll share my plans, in the spirit of openness and transparency I try to follow here.

The idea of the class is to introduce students to the range of ed tech practices, concepts, technologies, and strategies. It combines conceptual work with hands-on tool learning. The goal is to inform them so they can make good ed tech decisions in their subsequent work.

Practically, it’s an online class because of COVID. That means we have online sessions over Zoom, about 150 minutes each week. For asynchronous work, we’re starting with materials and exercises in Canvas, Georgetown’s learning management system (LMS), along with some use of Google Apps like Docs and Jamboard. As the semester progresses, we add more asynchronous tools (see schedule below).

This is the third time I’ve taught the class (previously: 2020, 2019), and so designing it meant the usual redesign and rethink: rerunning things that worked well before, tweaking almost everything, adding new stuff to experiment with, and swapping out the weakest bits. I cut back the readings a little, after getting feedback that they were sometimes too much.

There are some external factors which also prompted redesign. The class is entirely online, or I’m assuming so, unless the greater Washington, DC area enjoys an unusually brisk and successful COVID vaccination and Georgetown’s campus is clear of viruses normal and variant. So I had to plan for online-only work — which is a change from previous iterations of this class. Those involved productive visits to the campus maker hub, meeting in different labs, working with experts in person, and using a pile of great gear the main classroom had on hand.

I’m very conscious of the stresses of synchronous work in the COVID era, so I’m doing a few things to make it saner. I’m extending practices developed over teaching last summer and fall: daily check-ins, several cameras-off periods, and important asynchronous activities.

The class schedule changed as well, from being one 3-hour meeting per week to two 75 minute sessions per week. To account for these I set up every Thursday as virtual hands-on time. That’s when we focus on exploring stuff and learning tools. Tuesdays are devoted to reading scholarship, a minimum of my mini-lectures, and discussion thereof.

I’m continuing my democratic class practice. You can see below that students get to drive some of the content. They also drive some of our policies and technology choices. I also start with their knowledge and experience, which are gifts they bring to the class.

One fun thing about this class is that we can easily and productively go meta at any time. The LDT program is about design, so I happily put class design on the table. And since ed tech mediates the entire class we can talk about what we’re doing as examples of what we’re studying.

I’m also very happy to have successfully smuggled in a university librarian. Reference librarian (and therefore deity) Jess O’Toole generously agreed to join us for explorations of information literacy, open education resources (OER), and open access in scholarly publication.

Now for the schedule. Keep in mind that this grows as we progress. We fill in some of the blanks. Plus I add links and notes as we accrete them.

January 26 — Introductions

  • Our backgrounds and expectations
  • Organizing the class
  • What is ed tech and what have we done with it so far?
  • What have you done with ed tech? (survey)

January 28 — technology exercises

February 2 — The LMS and the Web

February 4 — technology exercises

February 9 — Digital and information literacy

February 11 — technology exercises

  • visiting: Jess O’Toole
  • create your own guide

February 16 — Learning spaces

February 18 — technology exercises

  • redesign the virtual classroom
  • redesign the physical classroom

February 23 — open

February 25 — technology exercises

February 11 — technology exercises

  • visiting: Jess O’Toole
  • create your own guide

February 16 — Learning spaces

February 18 — technology exercises

  • redesign the virtual classroom
  • redesign the physical classroom

February 23 — open

February 25 — technology exercises

March 2 — audio

March 4 — technology exercises

  • Audacity and beyond
  • create an audio file with at least two tracks. Upload to Soundcloud. Share with class digitally and in synchronous session

March 9 — Video

March 11 — technology exercises

  • assemble a video with images, video, and soundtrack in WeVideo; share with class

March 12 — MIDTERM PROJECTS DUE

March 16 — mobile

March 18 — technology exercises

March 23 — accessibility and design

March 25 — technology exercises

  • TBA

March 30 — April 1- break

April 6 — Gaming and education

April 8 — technology exercises

April 13 — VR, AR, XR

April 15 — technology exercises

April 20 — AI

April 22 — technology exercises

April 27 — student choice

April 29 — technology exercises: student choice

May 4 — student presentations, 1

May 6 — student presentations, 2

May 14 — FINAL PROJECTS DUE

What do you think?

(cross-posted to my blog)

Futurist, speaker, writer, consultant, educator. Author of the FTTE report and ACADEMIA NEXT. Creator of The Future Trends Forum.