Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Prepares Panel for SXSW

A host of familiar on-campus faces will join the confluence of musicians, intellectuals and techies convening in Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest Conference including Georgetown University’s Provost Robert Groves, Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis, and Chief Innovation Officer Z. Michael Wang (MSB ’07).

While the conference is held from March 7-16, Georgetown will participate in a pre-conference panel in March, “Designing the Future University From the Inside.”

The path to this year’s conference started last summer when Wang entered Georgetown’s new tech-education proposal to SXSW’s PanelPicker, which decides which entries will be showcased in the conference in March. After a selection process consisting of both public up-voting of the proposal on PanelPicker and voting by advisory board of educators, administrators and students, Georgetown’s panel was selected to appear at the SXSW conference.

“We had a strong social media push. We were tweeting about it; we had it on Facebook pages, to generate excitement and get people to vote for our proposal,” Davis said.

Wang described the panel’s congruence with the university’s current initiatives.

“Being a staff member I saw we were doing these things — we were doing [Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning], we were doing Designing the Future. It was a question of how do we get out there and how to get on a platform where people are talking about this and be seen as the leader that we are,” Wang said.

As past attendees of SXSWedu, a three-day educational conference preceding the larger SXSW event SXSWeduattendees, Wang and Davis have found that Georgetown exceeds its peers in synchronizing technology into education.

“We went to SXSW two years ago and there was a lot of conversations that were not happening about some of the simplest things, like Blackboard,” Wang said. “Over the last years we’ve gone more as observers and the thought was this year to have Georgetown be more of a leader in the space and to share what they’ve done.”

One of the biggest challenges Georgetown will have to address in its panel is how to ensure coursework is designed to account for the rapidly developing knowledge in fields that may render older forms of work obsolete.

“What ‘Designing the Future’ is about is innovating at the degree level so we’re going to experiment with whole new degree programs. Every one of those has some impact on the cost structure of getting that degree,” Groves told The Hoya. “We’re actually anticipating that what you’re learning right now will be obsolete at some point in your life. That’s our burden.”

Georgetown has already incorporated technology like SMART Boards and i>clickers into classrooms and begun to develop massive open online courses like “Globalization’s Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries,” which was completed in October 2013 on the edX platform.

Additionally, the university will be holding its second Hackathon SkillHack on Feb. 15, when students, faculty and alumni come together to share ideas about how to design the future of the university, per this year’s initiative.

“The education sector is changing and the goal is to figure out how to adapt with time but also at the same time keep at our core the values of who we are,” Wang said.

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