Tag Archives: community

MOOCs presentation Field Notes

Author Ryan Braner
Event MOOCs in-class presentation
Date of event Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Time of event 1:15pm until 3:05pm
Place School of Education 313, Stanford University
Date of record Wednesday, May 29, 2013
People present Marc Sanders (presenter)
Related artifacts None

The contrast between physical and virtual space could not be more drastic. Similar to each building we visited, each MOOC or online learning tool had its own user interface (UI), layout, and emphasis of importance. While Coursera groups its material by media, edX groups it as a learning flow, and Khan Academy (not discussed in the presentation) groups by subject.

The online spaces, however, benefit from the ability to rapidly modify their appearance, revert to any previous state with ease, and appear differently to each user according to personal preference; a feature even the most flexible of furniture arrangements will have difficulty mimicking. This dynamism is the strength of online education, and I see it contributing greatly to pedagogy. Iterative testing (a.k.a A/B testing and multivariate testing) will allow instructors and researchers to experiment with content, presentation, and pacing in these environments.

These sites are reaching incredibly large audiences. The Child Nutrition and Cooking class has nearly 30,000 studentsstudents with 20,000 of them active and 10,000 of them active within the last week. That scale simply does not translate to a physical classroom. The quiz embedded in the video had 27,000 unique submissions. To add some perspective, there are only 18,217 Stanford students, graduate and submissionsundergraduate, as of October 2012. The range of students using these libraries of knowledge is also quite wide. EPGY delivers collegiate math to advanced students still in high school. Khan Academy is aimed at helping students from middle school to college.

I am speculating that the amount of data these sites collect in a week dwarfs what was able to be collected previously for any research project. Currently, the type of data collected is limited to tracking student quizdataperformance, but plans are to expand data collection. Marc discussed expanding collection to paired data, data that not only records student performance, but also tracks what videos and resources the pupil had accessed, for example. Such measures allow a more robust analysis of what students are learning and how effectively variants of material are aiding that knowledge acquisition.

Every MOOC-type platform does not have the same philosophy. While edX is contributing to the Free and Open Source Software ideals, Coursera is developing its own, private platform. Personally, I would like to see the open platforms flourish, especially when considering how tools like Git, a version control system, can be leveraged to improve the source content, going beyond the assessment of students and applying a TPCK model to the online instructional process.

There is, however, a huge impotence with all of the remote/online knowledge sites presented, and that is human interaction. Despite claims, made by Marc and those in the industry, that the platform can simulate the presence of being physically located in the classroom, I remain unconvinced of any semblance of meaningful social interaction is taking place. The SEQ had the ‘together alone’ study spaces, the GSB focused on creating a social space in the courtyard, and the med students had access to a gym overlooking a great view of Stanford in general (once the power plant is torn down). Brick and mortar institutions excel at creating communities for their students, and not just academic communities.

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Field Notes: Stanford Graduate School of Business

Author: Manmeet Mavi
Event: Site visit to Stanford GSB
Date of event: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Time of event: 13:30 to 15:00
Place: 655 Knight Way, Stanford, CA
Date of record: Wednesday April 10, 2013

Graduate School of Business Map


1. Monument to Change as It Changes


“Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.” The Graduate School of Business believes in change and this is reflected in art work called “Monuments to change as it changes”. The art work is a wall which consists of computer-controlled array of flip digit modules like those on departure and arrival boards at European train stations, but with colored cards instead of letters and numbers. As the cards flip around within each module, they create a pleasant fluttering sound and a beautiful, ever-evolving set of patterns and images.


Anyone visiting the business school campus (student, their family and friends, faculty, guests) takes notice of this art work and is mesmerized by its patterns and sound. People spend hours sitting in front of it trying to decipher the patters and guess what’s next. The art installation facilitates learning that change is constant…..

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-GowlLiZqbg)



Cemex is a 600 seat square shaped auditorium for hosting events and conferences. The auditorium hosts distinguished business and government leaders from around the world to address the Stanford community. Cemex is a shared resource with the university and is used by student clubs, admissions office and faculty for hosting events. The facility boasts of floor-to-ceiling windows for lighting, high-end acoustics with wooden sound proofing and a 30 feet digital projector. The building incorporates use of sustainable material to reduce the environmental impact.


The seats are arranged in two tiers giving the space a surprisingly intimate feeling where the audience feels connected to the speaker. The auditorium is designed to foster a sense of security which allows the speaker to speak his/her mind freely. The building design allows secure and exclusive entry and exit for high level public figures who might require high security.

Cemex 1

The auditorium is not adorned with any paintings on the wall or design on the stage. The décor is very neat, simple and bland which helps direct the audience attention to the speaker.

3. Community Court


Just outside CEMEX Auditorium, the Community Court is a fantastic outdoor addition to the school indoor spaces. The large, open grassy area is used in conjunction with the auditorium and nearby classrooms for a full-scale conference or alone for an expansive outdoor banquet. This space is used for event registration, book signing, welcome lunch for new admits and Friday evening LPF parties.

The community court overlooks the Hoover tower which is an intentional design aspect to invite students from the other parts of the Stanford to the GSB campus. One edge of the community court is lined with comfortable wooden reclining chairs  outside the Arbuckle dinning pavilion.

The Community Court entrance has a fire lane marking embedded inside the flooring. The fire lane marking demarcates the area which cannot be used for event activities from the area available for use, thus, helping the event planners organize the arrangements at venue.


4. Town Square


The Town Square is the heart of the Graduate School of Business. It is an open space lined with trees and benches with umbrellas. It is framed by the Arbuckle Dining Pavilion on the west, the Bass Center library on the north, the student lounge cum faculty office building on the east. The GSB main entrance from Serra Street leads to the Town square which is surrounded by classrooms on the outer periphery.


The town square is a meeting space for engaging in conversation with acquaintances, classmates and faculty. The venue is used for eating, studying, student and faculty meetings and group events such as club fair, career management center drop in hours etc. Occasionally the venue is tented and used for outdoor reception/banquet for alumni meetings.

Town Sq

The atmosphere in the Town Square is welcoming to enjoy the California sunshine. Trees and umbrella help limit the sunlight to an optimum level. The central location allows easy access to dinning, library, classrooms and faculty office. The open space, seating arrangement and availability of food at a central location make Town Square an ideal space for making new friends and catching up with acquaintances.

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Native American Club House (Ashley)

Learning Space:  Native American Club House

Clubhouse NACC1

I elected to observe the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) during lunch time.  The NACC is located in the Old Union across from the Stanford Bookstore, and is one of four cultural centers located on campus.  The first place I visited upon my arrival to Stanford as a Freshman in 2001 was the NACC, it was my home for the next five years and now!

What is the environment like?

When I approached the NACC my eyes immediately fixated on a totem pole strategically positioned outside of the center.   The totem pole stood about 30ft. tall and was adorned with intricate designs, colors, and thought provoking imagery.  The feeling of spirituality and sense of community promptly entered my being as I walked through the NACC front door.  The atmosphere was open and inviting, with students lounging on couches, chatting, and laughing.  The walls were filled with colorful posters, Native American artwork, and symbols.  It was a relaxed, stress-free, and safe space.


What do learners do there?

The NACC has a community room, a computer room, a library, a kitchen, and administrative offices.  Learners go there to: 1) Study, 2) Read, 3) Write Papers, 4) Conduct Research on Native American Tribes & Issues, 5) Watch TV, 6) Listen to a Lecture, 5) Engage is Conversation, 6) Interact with/Solicit Advice from the Administrative Staff, 7) Stanford Powwow Planning & Implementation, 8) For Counseling Services, 9) To Eat Occasional Meals, and 10) Sometimes Sleep!

How does it help people learn?

The Native American Cultural Center helps American Indian students thrive academically, culturally and socially by providing a sense of community.  It also serves as a research facility for other students interested in learning more about American Indian tribes, customs, or ideology.

Nationally, American Indians make up only 1 percent of the undergraduate student body, up from 0.7 percent in 1976.  Today Stanford’s Native American student body stands at 3 percent.


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