Technology and education intersect at inaugural ‘ATXpo’

 

On Oct. 3, stakeholders from around the Stanford community gathered at the Munger Conference Center to discuss and share ideas centering on the intersection of technology and education at the inaugural ATXpo.

The event was sponsored by Stanford University Libraries and Academic Computing Services, with an estimated 115 or so Stanford faculty, students and support staff in attendance. Bearing the theme “Ideas with Impact,” the event aimed to bring Stanford’s community into a single physical space in order to discuss teaching and learning with technology, along with discussion and presentation of academic research pertaining to optimizing student motivation through the effective use of technology.

The interactive nature of digital content provides instructors with a wide variety of tools to provide to students as they learn new material. Stanford econometrics professor Chris Makler has already begun to tap into its potential, using dynamic representations to allow students to observe and interact with content in real time. Examples include allowing students to set and change data in a simulation and watching the scale of the Roman Empire grow and shrink on a digital map, which Makler described as “much more active learning.”

However, incorporating technology into a class curriculum can also present a variety of challenges for instructors.

Tiffany Lieuw, an academic technology specialist in the Stanford Introductory Studies department, cautioned against the negative effects of faculty assigning creative multimedia projects without a concrete system for instruction and evaluation. As a result, Lieuw developed a grading rubric in collaboration with other academic staff members to provide to faculty interested in assigning multimedia projects, such as the relevance, execution and integration in the use of medium. Providing students with specific feedback and expectation, she argues, will subsequently encourage creativity with a positive end result.

The event’s organizers, Paul Zenke and Ken Romeo, expect the ATXpo to become an annual affair and are already looking ahead to next year’s event. After working with limited advanced planning and funding during the event’s debut, the two are optimistic about its future. With more time for preparation and to secure funding, the two hope they can scale the event for an even larger audience and continue the conversation around meaningful integration of technology in education.