Assignment 4: Exploring Your Problem (Fall 2018)

The first six weeks of this semester are a time to explore the area of educational technology in which you are most interested. Last week, you described a general area of educational technology, like virtual reality, lifelong learners, or computer science education. This week, you’ll select and zoom in onto a specific problem you’d like to address.

By now, you’ve spent almost 30 hours researching the areas of educational technology in which you’re interested. You should now try to have a decent idea for what particular problem you want to solve or phenomenon you want to explore, and especially what areas of the literature connect to it.

This is a more detailed refinement of what you did last week. Last week, you described a general area and the problems or phenomena that it explored. This week, you’re describing in greater detail a particular problem or phenomenon. For example, if last week you talked about computer science education, this week you might zoom into problems like gender differences in interest in CS education, the gap between classroom learning and real-world job skills, or the need to teach computational thinking rather than just programming.

This week, you will likely decide whether you want to pursue the research track, the development track, or the content track. If you want to pursue the development track, identify more narrowly the problem you want to solve, such as increasing women and minority participation in computer science. If you want to pursue the research track, identify the phenomenon you want to explore, such as identifying the underlying reason for the lack of women and minorities in computer science. If you want to pursue the content track, select both the content you’d like to instruct and the medium you’d like to use. In any case, identify who in the community is already working to address problems or phenomena like these, and describe what they have done.

Then, briefly discuss the way you’re planning to solve it. You don’t need to go into detail on this quite yet: you’ve got the full proposal in a couple weeks to delve into that more deeply. But it will be valuable to get some early feedback, so conclude your assignment with what you plan to create, investigate, or teach, and how.

Your writing on this assignment can be somewhat informal and reflective because completing the assignment is meant to primarily be a learning activity for you; however, to adequately complete this assignment, you will definitely want to be able to cite specific sources, whether they be competing products or existing papers on similar ideas. You may also want to look ahead to Assignment 5, where you’ll be asked to compile an annotated bibliography: gathering sources ahead of time will make that assignment much easier.

The main goal of this assignment is for you to learn about where you might contribute to the community in which you’re interested: what problems are they facing, and how can you help? The secondary goals are for you to be able to find classmates with similar interests and ideas, to provide your mentor and classmates with the information necessary to help you find more material, and to have you learned to drive your own research into a topic.

Your assignment should be approximately 500 words long. This is neither a minimum nor a maximum, but rather a heuristic to simply describe the level of depth we would like to see. Feel free to write more, or if you believe you can complete the assignment in fewer words, feel free to write less.

Submission Instructions

Assignments should be submitted to the corresponding assignment submission page in Canvas. You should submit a single PDF for this  assignment. This PDF will be ported over to Peer Feedback for peer review by your classmates. If your assignment involves things (like videos, working software prototypes, etc.) that cannot be provided in PDF, you should provide them separately (through OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) and submit a PDF that links to or otherwise describes how to access that material.

This is an individual assignment. Even if you already plan to work on a team for the project, this assignment should still be completed individually.

Late work is not accepted without advanced agreement except in cases of medical or family emergencies. In the case of such an emergency, please contact the Dean of Students.

Grading Information

As with all assignments in this class, this assignment will be graded on an 11-point scale (0 to 10), in accordance with the grading policy outlined in the syllabus. If your deliverable receives a 9 or below, you may revise and resubmit it once within two weeks of the original due date or one week of receiving a grade, whichever is later. Resubmissions may receive up to a 9. Note that this should not be treated as a de facto free pass to submit sorely lacking work initially; we reserve the right to deny resubmission or grade a resubmission more harshly if we perceive the original submission was lacking in earnest effort.

Peer Review

After submission, your assignment will be ported to Peer Feedback for review by your mentor and classmates. Grading is not the primary function of this peer review process; the primary function is simply to give you the opportunity to read and comment on your classmates’ ideas. All grades will come from the mentors alone.

You will typically be assigned four classmates to review. You receive 1.5 participation points for completing a peer review by the end of the day Thursday; 1.0 for completing a peer review by the end of the day Sunday; and 0.5 for completing it after Sunday but before the end of the semester. For more details, see the participation policy.