CEP 909, Cognition and Technology, Spring 2000
Professor Patrick Dickson
Wednesdays, 12:40-3:30

During spring semester, 2000, I will again be teaching CEP 909, "Cognition and Technology," on Wednesdays, 12:40-3:30. The course has been designed with a view to helping graduate students develop expertise that will advance their own professional development and career possibilities.

Open to all (enrollment limited to 20). The course is open to graduate students and faculty in all departments and is not limited to students with extensive background knowledge in technology. Enrollment by doctoral students from all disciplines who wish to develop their own understanding of how they can use technology to enhance their teaching and research are welcome. (Graduate student-faculty teams are welcome: see below*.)

[Personal note: I have personal interests in integrating technology into K-16 classrooms,
cross-cultural perspectives on technology and education,
experiential learning in museums (http://commtechlab.msu.edu/products/mzoo/index.html) and
gardens in education (http://commtechlab.msu.edu/products/4hgarden/index.html), and
sign language (http://commtechlab.msu.edu/products/pcom/index.html), and  would be delighted to have students with similar interests talk with me about possibly enrolling and helping write grant proposals.]
Major Themes in the Cognition and Technology Seminar

Faculty Positions and College Teaching. All doctoral students who aspire to be competitive for faculty postitions would be wise to begin exploring ways in which they could use the World Wide Web and other technologies in their teaching. More and more position announcements are explicitly mentioning "evidence of use of technology in teaching" as a desired qualification. In addition, as much of the cutting-edge scholarly discourse, publication, and communication is moving to the Web, graduate students should be encouraged to explore these new media through the lens of how they can benefit them. Recognizing the importance of preparing our graduate students to teach, MSU has created a certificate program:

    MSU Certificate in College Teaching. The Graduate School at MSU has created a certificate program for doctoral students who wish to showcase on their curriculum vitae accomplishments in preparation to teach: http://www.msu.edu/user/gradschl/teaching.htm.  The certificate program has been implemented in the:

    College of Natural Science  (http://www.ns.msu.edu/TAcertificate/Default.htm)
        (Application information: Cathy Bristow: http://www.msu.edu/~cbristow/)
    Certificate programs are also being developed in the
        College of Engineering (contact Tony Wojcik),
        Communication Arts and Sciences  (contact Chuck Salmon), and the
Department of English (contact Pat O'Donnell).

National Science Foundation: Preparing Future Faculty. This opinion is not mine alone. During the past couple of years, I have been directing an NSF planning grant, a major focus of which has been the urgent need to prepare future faculty to integrate technology into their teaching and learning. (Resources collected by Meg Ropp and Nicole Ellefson on this project may be examined at http://www.msu.edu/~pdickson/nsf/resources.html.)   National programs to prepare future faculty are also beginning to emphasize the role of technology in teaching and learning (http://www.preparing-faculty.org/).

National Academy of Science. One key text will be How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School, edited by Bransford, Brown and Cocking. This report, released in spring of 1999 by the National Academy of Science, reviews recent advances in our understanding of human learning. The text is online at: http://books.nap.edu/html/howpeople1/. Another text, also online, is a second report from NAS, which elaborates on the connection between research and practice. How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice, M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino, Editors; Committee on Learning Research and Education. http://books.nap.edu/html/howpeople2/. These texts, having the status of the National Academy of Science behind them, can serve as valuable references and citations in support of grant proposals, for example.

Your Project and Your Portfolio. Students in the course will work on a major project of their choosing. Students will develop or elaborate their website to include a curriculum vitae linked to webpages in support of their teaching and research.  This electronic portfolio will help prepare you for your career goals, including but not limited to the possibility of seeking a faculty position. For students pursuing the certificate mentioned above, work in the course will contribute to creating the required portfolio.

Past Participants in CEP 909. In spring 1999 the course enrolled a great group of 18 graduate students and faculty. We learned a lot from each other. One student used the course to support his mentored teaching in microbiology, and used this experience when he successfully interviewed for a faculty position during the semester. Another graduate student, used the course to help think through his career goals, and at the end of the semester left the university for a research position in California. Another student, who is an MSU employee working with faculty doing distance education, used the course to deepen her understanding of what is known about technology and teaching and learning, and so on. Samples of students' work can be found at http://www.msu.edu/~pdickson/cep909/coursepages.html

    *Collaboration with Faculty Encouraged. As a part of the larger effort to support faculty at MSU in learning to use technology, graduate students in the course will also be encouraged to consider working collaboratively with a faculty member on integrating technology in teaching. I would call your attention to an innovative course in the College of Education in which graduate students work with faculty to jointly explore the integration of technology into college teaching. (http://punya.educ.msu.edu/courses/spring99/813/index.html)

Research Literature. The content of the course will be shaped by the interests of students enrolled in the course, to a certain degree. Readings in the course will, however, include attention to the best research and writing about cognition and technology with specific reference to information technology being used in three settings:
    K-12 Schools, Higher Education, and Teacher Education (which is at the intersection of the first two).
Students in the course will focus their readings on one of these three domains. A goal of the reading will be to, among other things, help prepare students to pass their comprehensive examinations.

Research Methods and Projects. Believing that systematic research and evaluation of learning in the new multimedia environments is urgently needed, a portion of the course will be devoted to research methods appropriate for studying learning from Web-based environments.
    See the work of Jakob Nielsen on Usability Testing of WWW Designs, for example.
http://www.useit.com/ Jakob Nielsen's Website, and
http://www.sun.com/columns/jakob/useengbook.html, Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
http://www.sun.com/usability/index.html, Sun's Usability Lab

Web-Focused. Major attention in the course will be on the Web as source of readings, interaction, and writing. Students in the class will learn to harness the power of the Web in support of their work, including attention to developing a personal information strategy for dealing with the vastness and changing forms of the Web.

Designing Learning Environments. The research literature on cognition and technology calls attention to the importance of the context or learning environment. If we are to change education, we need to consider how "classrooms" of the future need to change. Universities and K-12 schools are beginning to create new designs and architecture for the information age.  Thus, part of the work of the class will be to read about designing new spaces for learning. (See, for example, http://www.scup.org, the organization of designers and architects creating new buildings for universities. Research on learning and advances in technology call for new environments such as: http://www.engr.ucf.edu/nc2/). The class will meet in room 250, Erickson Hall, which is being developed as an experimental teaching room, which needs a name such as the "Brainstorm Center". The room is equipped with Ethernet connections for the laptops, two projectors, and surround sound. We compare and contrast computer classrooms and other spaces on the MSU campus and at new schools such as Rockford (MI) High School.

Rosewood Avenue Seminar Series. I enjoy cooking, good food, and conversation and have installed Ethernet throughout my house so we can discuss cognition and technology over dinner on occasion during the semester, with participation voluntary and recipes found on the Web obligatory.

Tailored to Student Interests. The first class meetings will be devoted to defining the course in accordance with student expertise, interests, and perceived needs.

If you think you might be interested or would like to talk with me about the course, please email me and we will set up a time to meet. Thanks.