Course Syllabus

Info 290. Educational Technology: Design, Policy, and Law (2 units)
Section 10:

F 10-12 — 210 South Hall

Instructor(s): Chris Jay Hoofnagle

CCN: 41968

Imagine that you serve on a committee tasked to implement education technology in K-12 classrooms. Your school is resourced-constrained. Parents say that they want technology in the classroom, but when you press them on the issue, they only say that it would be good to teach coding. Some parents say they are concerned about privacy and security, but guidance from the school district on those issues is minimal. Your school has limited support staff for technology, and some teachers embrace new technologies while others are more resistant.

Educational Technology (Edtech): Design, Policy, and Law will be an interdisciplinary seminar using problem-based learning to explore how one might use the best research to answer the question of how schools can smartly integrate technology into the K-12 classroom.

The seminar will include graduate students from several different disciplines and backgrounds. Students will work alone or in small groups to generate hypotheses, learning issues, and learning objectives for each issue. The primary aim is to work together in interdisciplinary teams to integrate understanding across different approaches. The discussions will include not only current knowledge of Edtech but also consideration of research to advance understanding. Students will then develop short presentations on these learning objectives to create group learning and discussion.  For the culmination of the course, students will prepare a short research paper that guides decision makers on key issues in Edtech adoption.


  • Learning objectives (LO): Throughout the seminar, students will be developing learning objectives to deepen their understanding of relevant aspects of each issue. For each issue, students will prepare an LO report.  LO reports are brief (2-4 pages), informal (formal citations are not required but a reference list should be included) explorations of the selected issue. The emphasis for these reports is content over form. Students are encouraged to use any available research materials.  To avoid concerns about plagiarism, students will agree that the LO reports are not for distribution and should only be shared with other seminar participants. Students will upload LO reports to bCourses no later than 5 pm on Wednesday after they are assigned.  All students are responsible for reviewing all of the generated LO reports prior to the next class meeting.  During the next class meeting, students will deliver short presentations (10-15 minutes) on each LO.
  • Research Paper: At the end of the course, students will prepare a short research paper (5 pages). I envision these as a series of concise, high-quality guides for decision makers who are in the same position as we were at the beginning of the semester. Consider what questions were most important from our semester of investigation, and answer one authoritatively and with enough nuance so that it could help people with in different situations. Each short paper should include a bibliography.
  • Class reading: given that the LOs drive class discussion, they are the principal reading assignment in any given week.

Problem-based learning (PBL)

Based on cognitive and learning theories, the main principle of PBL is to present learners with real-world tasks or challenges that mimic the experiences they will have in their professional careers.  PBL encourages the acquisition and application of knowledge in dynamic contexts through creative and critical reasoning.  A key principle of PBL is that knowledge and learning arise through problem-solving in contrast to traditional learning models that emphasize knowledge being a prerequisite for solving a problem.  Through PBL, learners blend existing knowledge with new information from external sources to solve problems. 

For this seminar, we will engage in a cyclical PBL process through which we will:

  1. Explore and define a realistic problem.
  2. Analyze the problem using existing knowledge and identify gaps.
  3. Generate working hypotheses and translate them into learning objectives.
  4. Research new knowledge to respond to learning objectives.
  5. Report back, synthesize information, and apply newly acquired information to next problem.

PBL, often referred to as an open inquiry approach, is a process led by the discovery of the learners in which the facilitators play a minimal role to allow the learners to explore the content. 

Short course description

This seminar will explore the educational technology (Edtech) sector from policy, design, and legal lenses. Edtech is among the most exciting fields for personalization because such tools may enhance learning. But in practice, Edtech is often poorly implemented. An OECD report recently found that “student performance is mixed at best” from the incorporation of internet and communication technologies in the classroom. At least four different privacy regulatory regimes touch Edtech, yet enthusiasm for the field remains high, with venture funding now reaching almost $2b for the sector. This seminar, following a problem-based learning approach, will explore the Edtech field in depth. What can we realistically expect from Edtech? How can Edtech be used most efficaciously? How do we regulate student privacy and why? How can technology serve the regulatory requirements and ends of policy?

Course Summary:

Date Details Due