History and Future of Education on Coursera (Cathy Davidson)

There will be specific “readings” — articles, blog posts, websites, videos, and other resources– suggested for each lecture.

Most of these readings are available for free online, and many of the texts have also been made available on a collaborative annotation tool, RapGenius.com. The main “texts” for this course will be:

  1. Davidson, Cathy N. Now You See It: How Technology and the Brain Science of Attention Will Change the Way We Live, Work and Learn. 2011. (This will be made available free online for the first 50,000 students registered for this course and is also available to purchase on AmazonBarnes & Nobles, and IndieBound).
  2. The 21st Century Collective, Field Notes for 21st Century Literacies: A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning.
  3. Davidson, Cathy N. and David Theo Goldberg. Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. MIT Press. Available for free download as a pdf.
  4. DukeSurprise.com

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how and why we inherited the Industrial Age educational systems.
  • Think deeply about the requirements of the world we live in now.
  • Discover new ideas, methods, competencies, and subject matter.
  • Share our pathways to successful innovation with others around the world. Together, we can change schools, classrooms, institutions, learning–and maybe ourselves!



Week One – January 27, 2014 Guiding Principles and Driving Concepts – Let’s Get Started

This week we will focus on the uses of history: learning how and why educational institutions were constructed in the past helps us think about what we need now, in order to begin to shape a different future of education in order to help shape a more just future for all.

Week Two – February 3, 2014 The iPod Experiment: Or, Learning vs. Education

Duke University’s iPod experiment became international news. Why? What happens when students are in charge? What happens when education begins at a place where no one (not even the instructor) knows the answer in advance? What learning cannot be tested or assessed by the usual methods or higher education? What if learning is also about trying to improve the status quo? This week we will look at diverse histories and theories of education and learning.

Week Three – February 10, 2014 Teaching Like It’s 1992

The world changed on April 22, 1993, when the scientists at the National Center for Supercomuting Applications released the Internet and the World Wide Web to the general public. From then on, anyone with access to the Internet connection could communicate to anyone else with an Internet connection. No editor or publisher provides a safety net. That’s a tremendous responsibility and opportunity–and yet it comes with real inequalities and obstacles too. Does our educational system prepare us for those challenges?


Week Four – February 17, 2014 Welcome to the Future: 10 Ways to Change the Paradigm of Higher Education

We will now be looking at different principles, methods and metrics for redesigning an innovative form of learning that helps us all navigate the complexities of the world we inhabit outside of school. This week we focus specifically on innovations to the curriculum.

Week Five – February 24, 2014 Innovations in Pedagogy (Methods) and Assessment

This week we will focus on innovations in pedagogy (the methods for learning) and assessment. How you teach is what you teach. And, we need to think deeply about what we value and make sure what we value is what we count.

Week Six – March 3, 2014 How to Make Institutional Change**

Even if we make changes in our personal learning and teaching methods, we still have to work mostly within institutions of learning. Institutional change can be difficult; it takes patience, strategy, and allies. This week offers (and also invites) ideas about what we can do together. It makes a powerful argument that we all need to advocate (in any country) for higher education and shows how, in the U.S., the decline in support for public education has contributed to income inequality and hurt all our future. This week includes interviews with inspiring people who have worked together to make successful change happen in society ad in education, against odds.

History and Future of Education at Duke (Cathy Davidson ISIS 640)

The Chronicle of Higher Education will host a weekly blog about this whole initiative, written by students in ISIS 640, “Thoughts From a MOOC on Higher Education”. Prof Davidson will be contributing to this blog and we can invite students and faculty from Stanford and UCSB to contribute as well. (NB: all books by Prof Davidson are available free as open access pdfs)

  1. Balsamo, Anne. Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work. Duke University Press. 2011. Print.
  2. Damasceno, Cristiane, Omar Daouk, Cathy N. Davidson, Christina C. Davidson, Jade E. Davis, Patrick Thomas Morgan, Barry Peddycord III, Elizabeth A. Pitts, and Jennifer Stratton. Field Notes to 21st Century Literacies: A Guide to New Theories, Methods, and Practices for Open Peer Teaching and Learning. Print versionHASTAC collectionsRapGenius. 2013.
  3. Davidson, Cathy N. and David Theo Goldberg. The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. MIT Press. 2009. Available online or in print.
  4. Davidson, Cathy N. Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. New York: Penguin Books. 2011. Print. (Up to 50,000 students enrolled in the “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education” Coursera course can download the pdf of this book for free, by arrangement with the publisher)
  5. Newfield, Christopher. Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class. Harvard University Press. 2011. Print.
  6. Palumbo-Liu, David. The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age. Duke University Press. 2012. Print.
  7. Rheingold, Howard. Net Smart. MIT Press. 2012. Available online or in print.
  8. Sahlberg, Pasi. Finnish Lessons: What the World Can Learn from Educational Change in Finland. Teachers College Press. 2011. Print.
  9. Wilder,Craig Steven. Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2013. Online.