Online Education with Candace Thille

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What we’re gonna be talking about today is
technology mediated learning environments. And whenever I’m talking about education,
whether it’s technology mediated or classroom based,
I always start at the same place. Start with the learner. And what the challenge is for
higher education is we are being asked to educate not only a much
greater number of learners, but also, a greater diversity of learners,
and I don’t just mean cultural diversity. Socioeconomic diversity,
religious diversity, gender diversity,
sexual orientation diversity, all of those dimensions of
diversity are critically important. But in an education standpoint so
is diversity with respect to the learners’ prior knowledge,
what they bring to our class, their future goals, what they’re hoping
to achieve by being in our class, and the skills that they have to
learn what we want them to learn. And another dimension of diversity
is diversity in the attributions students make, the meaning they make
out of the experience they’re having. And we need to consider all of
those dimensions of diversity when we’re thinking about
differentiating instruction. Learners are also working
in multiple contexts. We still have learners coming to
classrooms, but we also have learners learning in museums, learning in
the workforce, learning online, learning on their cellphones, learning
on computers, diversity of context. So, now that takes us to the question,
technology. I’m sure you’ve all heard about how
technology is going to transform education. Now, I just said, from the graduate school
of education, and one of the things we know about learning is that you don’t
actually do it really well when you’re just sitting there passively listening
to me or someone else tell you stuff. So when you go to those classes without
quizzes, I would actually recommend that you quiz yourself because
it’ll help you learn things. So I’m gonna give you
an opportunity to participate. So when I talk about technology and
I ask a large room of people what is the power of technology that’s
going to transform education, I usually get one of three answers. And here’s what I get. The first one, access and convenience. If you have a computer you can
learn any time, any place. That’s what MOOCs were all about. How many of you have tried MOOCs? So access and convenience, okay. That’s the power that’s
gonna transform education. Other people say, no, Candace. That’s kind of old school thinking. The real power is what you
can do with the technology, that we couldn’t do in classrooms
when you were in classrooms. We can, for example,
if you’re an engineer, we can have students construct bridges. They collapse and nobody gets killed. So we can simulate what we want
students to be able to do and have them get actual experience. So simulation,
that’s what’s gonna transform education. The third thing, that people say is no. The real power here is not just the
individual interacting with a computer. It’s that that computer is
connected to an Internet. And through that Internet I can
connect the learner to other learners, to other experts, to the world. Okay, so now here comes your part. Since I can’t ask you,
cuz there are too many of you, I’m gonna ask you to just vote. If we had technology media classroom here,
I’d asking you to vote on your cellphone, but instead we’re gonna just use
the old way of raising hands. So for a moment, turn to the person
next to you and just maybe have a quick talk about which of these three
powers you actually think it is, and then get ready to make your voice heard,
okay?>>[NOISE]>>Okay, for those of you who think the big
power that’s gonna transform education is this power of access and
convenience raise your hand. Access and convenience. Okay, great, okay great. Okay, put your hands down. How about for those of who say, no, it’s really all about that
simulation capability, simulation. Okay, okay. Okay, and then how about the folks that
are like, you guys are all old-school? It’s really about connection. Okay, okay now how many of you
are thinking all of the above?>>[LAUGH]
>>How many of you are thinking Candice, you said you’re an educator why are you
giving us a crummy multiple choice question?>>[LAUGH]
>>How many of you were thinking none of the above? Okay, and how many of you just don’t
raise your hands when you’re asked?>>[LAUGH]
>>So actually I agree with all of you. These are all important. However, I think the real transformative
power is really none of the above. The transformative power
of this technology is what Google has all ready figured out. It’s what Amazon has figured out. It’s what Netflix has figured out. The power of this technology
is not just pushing stuff out at you, but
pushing it to the interface. Because in the interface
we can observe the learner. Now Amazon, Netflix, Google, they are observing us in their
interfaces all the time. Why?>>[INAUDIBLE]
>>Cuz they wanna understand us better as consumers. So they know better what to target to us, they want to understand us
individually as consumers. And they wanna understand us
collectively as consumers. So you might think, okay,
Candice, that’s creepy, that you’re talking about
using education that way. But the idea is not to understand
learners as consumers, but to understand learners as learners. Because this is the big power. If we design the technology mediated
learning environments properly, then every interaction a student makes is
a piece of evidence about their learning. And we can use that data we collect and
model it to give really important feedback to the actors, the human actors,
in the education system. For example, we can tell learners, we can give them just in time targeted
feedback to support their learning. We can give instructors
information about their class. I teach data analysis and interpretation
here at Stanford and I have my students work through a technology mediated
environment before they come to class, I teach at 10 AM, I tell then to finish
working through the environment by 6 AM. Because between 6 AM and 10 AM I can
look at the data generated by their interactions and plan how I’m
gonna help them in class that day. The other feedback loop
is to the design teams. Now these kinds of learning
environments are not invented or designed by individual faculty. We bring together faculty who have the
domain expertise, who have human computer interaction expertise, who have
learning research expertise, software. It takes a community to build
these environments, and we give them feedback from all of
the students using these environments. And then we can feed our science,
the last feedback loop is to those of us that consider
ourselves learning researchers. Because all of this data that is being
generated by all the learners, and all of the environment across the world
can help us improve our theories in cognitive science, in neuroscience,
in social-psychological sciences. And of course the mother of
learning science right now, computer and data science. Computer and data science is
revolutionizing every other industry. These new algorithms are allowing
computers to learn themselves to beat the best Go player in the world. Allow computers to drive cars,
allow computers to recognize our speech, allow computers to learn
to generate original art. It’s really exciting. These new algorithms provide this
potential of human in a looped AI, to allow us to truly
revolutionize eduction. However, there’s a lot of fear about
this too, and with good reason. Because right now, many of the systems and coursewares that are being
developed to support learning, we’re outsourcing to
the commercial sector. And all of those decisions that are being
made, every time we collect a piece of evidence and use that to make
a recommendation to a learner, or make a recommendation to instructor, if we don’t know how that
recommendation is being built. And the systems are just saying trust us,
it works, I would posit to you that that’s alchemy,
it’s no longer science. And what we need to do is insist
that as we’re building this new model of education,
that the algorithms, the features, the representations be open,
be peer reviewable, be challengeable. And in that way, we can build the future
of higher education which integrates and feeds back Into our
understanding of human learning. And we set up this virtuous cycle where we
use what we believe we know about human learning to design
the learning environment. We use the learning environments to
collect this massive amount of data. We use that data to refine
the learning environment and we set up this cycle of
continuous improvement. So I’m gonna leave you with a quote
from my former colleague at Carnegie Mellon, Herb Simon and
he said back in 1991, improvement in post secondary education
will require converting teaching from a solo sport to a community-based
research, activity. Powerful statement, 1991. I modified it, so
I’ve changed it to say, improvement in post secondary education will
require converting teaching and courseware, platform, and
analytic system development from a solo sport to
a community-based research activity. And I’ll leave you with one last
quote from an economist, Bill Baumol, who said back in 1967, without a complete
revolution in our approach to teaching, we cannot go beyond our current
levels of productivity. And he’s right. The escalating cause of
education rivals healthcare. My message used to be when I worked with
Baumol, this revolution is now possible. My message now is this
revolution is happening. It’s here, and my question is the same. Who’s going to lead it? And my answer is,
higher education needs to lead. Higher education especially institutions
like Stanford need to lead this revolution. Thank you.

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