Assignment 3: Exploring Your Areas (Fall 2018)

Last week, you took some time to explore the expanse of the educational technology community. You also have peer reviewed your classmates’ work on the same topic, gaining further perspectives on potential areas you might choose to pursue. This week, you’ll select and zoom in a bit on the areas in which you’re interested.

Based on the full course calendar, you have now spent about fifteen hours perusing some literature and library materials on educational technology. For Assignment 3, define the areas on which you want to focus for the next couple weeks. That might start from a singular interest with multiple facets, like AI for middle school math education: that lies at the overlap of artificial intelligence for education, math education, and middle school education. Or, you might have multiple interests, and you want to find the intersection of them: you could be interested in data science, gender issues, and online education, and figure out how you can unify the three into one project direction.

So, either pick your main interest and explore the components of it, or pick a collection of interests and explore them individually with a goal of finding some interesting intersections. We would generally expect most people to have at least three areas in mind. Those areas might include…

  • a technology (tutoring systems, chatbots, data analytics, etc.)
  • an audience (K-12 students, working professionals, informal learners, etc.)
  • a content area (math, writing, computer science, etc.)
  • an issue (social presence, socioeconomic status, accessibility, etc.)
  • a theory (communities of practice, social learning, spaced repetition, etc.)
  • a medium (MOOCs, traditional classrooms, museum displays, etc.)
  • a methodology (experimental research, surveys and interviews, naturalistic observation, etc.).

You do not need to select something from each of these categories, nor be limited to these categories; these are just provided as examples of areas in which you might already be thinking. By the end of this assignment, we recommend naming a set of areas which you’re interested in exploring going forward. This might be a general assortment, like “I’m interested in looking at AI-based tutoring, math or science education, and probably the middle school level”, or something more specific, like “I’m interested in looking at using explorational museum displays to emphasize contributions of women and underrepresented minorities to the sciences.”

At this stage, you may want to start considering the three tracks described in the project proposal description. If you’re looking at building something, you might want to look at what companies or lab groups are already building tools to address the problem in which you’re interested. If you’re interested in doing some research, you might want to look at what the dominant theories are in this area, as well as the types of methods (e.g. quantitative or qualitative) that are usually used. If you’d like to author some content, you’ll want to look into both general pedagogical practice and pedagogical content knowledge for your chosen area.

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 the community in which you’re interested in participating. The secondary goals are for you to have the background necessary to select teammates, 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.