Choosing: English or Chinese?
In anticipation of the upcoming elections in January 2016, my colleague Lucien and I have drafted a primer on the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan. I've uploaded supplementary materials and graphics here. The article has been published on the Ketagalan Media site.
Diagram: Overview of Seats in the Legislative Yuan
Table: Hypothetical Proportional Representation (PR) Seat Allocation
Table: Party Lists to fill Allocated PR Seats
Human Cities Expo
You are invited to the Human Cities Expo this Friday! Excited about sustainable cities, civic participation, or the intersection of environment, urban development & public policy? Come celebrate and share your urban ideas with other interested Stanford citizens!
Urban Sustainability Design Expo
As the planet's urban population surges in coming decades, the growth and evolution of cities presents a key challenge to both the developed and developing world. What makes for a sustainable city? Can we build communities that are both livable and socially equitable? Can utilizing human-centered design be part of the solution?
A class I teach, the International Urbanization Seminar, will be hosting an expo on December 3 at the d.school to explore these issues. View interactive exhibits and play with prototypes developed by multinational teams from Stanford University, Tsinghua University (China), ESSEC (France), and UC Berkeley. Key topics include: urban bicycles, cultural heritage preservation, food systems, electric vehicles and more!
Be sure to catch our series of 6-minute Lightning Talks by international experts throughout the afternoon, including representatives from OpenIDEO (part of the IDEO design family), the Tzu Chi Foundation (one of Asia's major humanitarian organizations that has demonstrated both efficacy and socially-innovative approaches in its aid work), and the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Oakland.
There will also be a special sneak peak at the film "Kapital Creation," a documentary about the changing face of Beijing.
For event details, visit the Design Expo page.
This quarter, we have arranged for our students in the International Urbanization Seminar to engage in a dialogue with students from the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC), one of France's top business schools. ESSEC is located near Paris, which provides numerous opportunities for interesting field work.
Using online tools, students from Stanford and ESSEC will explore the causes of gentrification and deprived areas in urban centers, and share explanations of how social inequality is manifested even in apparently well-off places like Paris and Silicon Valley. Media is increasingly focusing attention on these urban challenges, including evictions in San Francisco, tech buses protests, and the disputes over the Mission Soccer Fields.
We are excited to pilot this experience and hope students will critically examine both their home context, while striving to understand commonalities and differences in how other cities are developing.
See more at the exchange website: france.internationalurbanization.org
Accessing GPS Course Materials
When students visit our course website GPS-Lab.org they will be able to easily visit each of the main services for the online course:
They can go to the video lectures, visit the Course Forum to take part in conversations, or read more about the Backyard Labs and submit their data.
GPS is a go!
This morning, we launched "GPS: An Introduction to Satellite Navigation," our newest MOOC offering. In addition to vivid video lectures, the course includes an "Interactive Worldwide Laboratory using Smartphones."
With more than 3 billion mobile devices deployed, many with GPS capabilities, we have an opportunity to try out an unprecedented experiment. We will gather the contributions from thousands of students from around the world, who will complete a set of "backyard" laboratories and share their findings, creating a very intriguing data set to work with!
Learn more at the course website: www.gps-lab.org The course features Prof. Per Enge and Frank van Diggelen, two excellent and energetic lecturers.
This course is particularly relevant, as the past week was World Space Week, as declared by the UN General Assembly (http://worldspaceweek.org). This year's World Space Week theme highlights the benefits of satellite navigation to society—one of the topics explored in this course. In coming weeks, the course will also examine how satellite navigation works, how GPS devices function, and the diverse applications of these technologies. Get started today!
Beijing Sustainable City Wrap-up
Our sustainable city workshop is wrapping up this weekend. If you are in town, you're invited to come see the students' projects, which are pretty awesome! The final presentations are taking place at Tsinghua University, up in Haidian 海淀 District. Hope to see folks there!
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
You are warmly invited to attend the final presentations of the joint Tsinghua-Stanford workshop, The Human City: Design for People, on Saturday, September 20 at 2:00 PM, at the Tsinghua University Academy of Art & Design (B413). Project teams will present their work in six topic areas, including food systems, residential energy, electric vehicles, bicycle livelihoods, land use, and cultural preservation.
Through this September workshop, two dozen students from Stanford University and Tsinghua University explored innovative ways to tackle urban challenges, while gaining new perspectives on humanistic city development. Participants represent a wide range of interdisciplinary backgrounds, including urban studies, information art and design, international relations, computer science, and civil and environmental engineering.
Guided by Deland Chan and Kevin Hsu of Stanford University, and Zhiyong Fu of Tsinghua University, multinational student teams engaged directly with Beijing as an urban laboratory for experiential learning, exploring strategies to enhance sustainability and improve the quality of life.
Workshop participants will also present their work at the Smart City Expo, part of Beijing Design Week, from September 25-30. For more information, please visit:
Reunited with XuetangX
— posted from Beijing
It was a pleasure, such an absolute pleasure, to meet in person with the folks at XuetangX with whom we have been collaborating these many months. It was surreal, amazing, and deeply exciting to sit down at the same table to share a meal. We talked non-stop about education, MOOCs, design, and updated each other about the latest happenings related to e-learning in our respective countries.
We have had periodic Skype chats, and regularly exchange e-mails, but there’s something that feels especially meaningful in having a conversation face-to-face. The irony (of which I am quite aware) is that it is online education--mediated through flat screens and the world wide web, in the comfort of one’s home, away from the live classroom—that has brought us together.
Such are the oddities of life! But I am feeling particularly joyful today nonetheless.
Designing the Human City
I am heading off to Beijing to lead an urban sustainability workshop with my colleagues Deland Chan and Zhiyong Fu. The workshop is jointly sponsored by Stanford and Tsinghua University. Participants will observe neighborhoods, meet with local experts (in fields ranging from energy efficient architecture to sustainable transportation), and produce an exhibit for the "Smart Cities Expo" portion of Beijing Design Week.
The experience is entitled "The Human City: Design for People" though we're also calling it "Designing the Human City" for short. Follow along with our adventures at:
Painting the Roof, Raising the Bar
What an illuminating evening! Last night, Prof. Gordon Chang of History spoke to a crowd of over 60 Stanford alumni and friends, updating us about an innovative project investigating the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America. The talk pried open Leland Stanford's many connections with the Chinese during his long career as a California businessman, railroad baron, governor and senator, and University founder.
Before the event, I'd never gotten a clear view of Leland Stanford's stance on Chinese workers and immigrants—and definitely not through primary sources—other than the fact that he had hired them, and they had made him a fortune. It was shocking, and admittedly a bit disappointing, to see his waffling, politically expeditious statements.
Prof. Chang highlighted several excerpts from Leland's letters and speeches that revealed an ambivalent stance on Chinese workers. Though they had greatly contributed to Stanford-the-Entrepreneur's profits, working not only on the Central Pacific railroad, but also on his family farm and vineyards, Stanford-the-Politician did not openly defend their right to be in America. In certain cases, he even expressed agreement with some of the xenophobic views of nativists.
For example, Stanford used derogatory phrases such as "inferior" and "degraded" to describe the "Asiatic races." In other missives, he couched more tolerant sentiments largely in economic terms, arguing that low wages (rather than say, justice or principle) were a reason to allow the Chinese to stay in America. In contrast, Jane Stanford was portrayed as fairer and kinder. When a bill to expel Chinese workers from California lay on the governor's desk, she reportedly interceded on their behalf, reminding Leland "how good to you" the workers had been.
One surprising fact we learned is that Chinese workers literally built the school that we inhabit today. They dug trenches, erected structures, and laid the bricks of the original Stanford University campus. Here is a post card (c. 1900) showing Encina Hall, one of the campus' earliest buildings. (It comes from the Homer Lea archives, another alumnus who coincidentally had deep ties to China as well.) The connection of the Chinese to the University isn't only indirectly through Stanford's wealth, but in the very stones of the campus, threading through the steam tunnels we still use today.
At one point, Prof. Chang displayed the cover of a Stanford catalog, with its Spanish tiled roofs, and told us the tale of a Chinese grandmother who had never been to campus herself, but to whom the family lore was known. She whispered to her sons that "the roofs of Stanford University are red because they are stained with the blood of Chinese workers." As Prof. Chang intoned, we can never look at these red roofs the same way again!
It has been 150 years since construction began on the Transcontinental Railroad—a project that linked the coasts and made Leland's fortune—and a century since the founding of this University. These pivotal events took place against real and visceral anti-Chinese sentiment: legal discrimination, violence, ghettoization in Chinatowns, and abuse as a political punching bag (think "Yellow Peril" propaganda). It was thus very moving to witness Prof. Chang addressing the crowd. When Leland Stanford was alive, we would not even have been welcome to attend this University, much less occupy teaching positions. How things have changed!
Despite decades of questionable laws and discriminatory practices, today Asian American students make up a significant part of Stanford's population and are actively involved in every facet of university life. Asian American faculty stand in front of Stanford classrooms, representing a multitude of departments and disciplines. This very evening, we assembled a huge roomful of Asian American alumni and friends to celebrate our history and heritage. There are even buildings named after illustrious API alumni donors. (Thank you Jen-Hsun and Jerry!)
It boggles my mind that when this school was founded, people of Asian descent could be excluded from the university community, yet in 2014, I actually teach here! There truly has been progress. It affirms the idea that despite all the media hubbub about Stanford as an engineering school and start-up incubator, the social and cultural changes experienced by this institution are just as important as the technological revolutions that have boosted its reputation.
The talk was organized by SAPAAC, the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club. Find out more about the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America History Project at http://chineserailroadworkers.stanford.edu.
This week, I am helping to organize an event for Stanford's Asian American alumni community, through SAPAAC, the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club. It will feature a talk by Prof. Gordon Chang on the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America History Project. As Americans, and particularly as Americans of Asian descent, this is our story. The Transcontinental Railroad was one of America's most pivotal infrastructure developments, yet the contributions of the people who actually built it are, to this day, rendered largely invisible. Stanford scholars, in partnership with others from around the world, are carrying out innovative scholarship to shed light on this crucial period of our history and to make the story whole.
I've included event details below. Get your tix here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sapaac-a4p-summer-social-the-race-to-build-americas-infrastructure-tickets-12145871629
SAPAAC / A4P Summer Social:
The Race to Build America’s Infrastructure
Professor Gordon Chang on the Chinese Railroad Workers History Project
6:00-6:30 PM Registration + Alumni Social
6:30-7:30 PM Talk w/ Dinner
Over 150 years ago, America started construction on a Transcontinental Railroad—a pivotal transportation link uniting the nation that remains in use today. While the public may know that Chinese railroad workers were involved in building this incredible infrastructure, the personal stories of these workers have been sparsely investigated.
An exciting project is currently underway, connecting scholars in China, Taiwan, and the United States, who are now delving into the biographies, daily habits, and social lives of the Chinese immigrants whose labor and commitment made economical cross-country travel possible.
Join us for a social dinner, as Professor Gordon Chang, one of the directors of the "Chinese Railroad Works in North America" project, shares updates on key findings and upcoming commemorations. We will learn more about this unprecedented historical adventure and how the initiative is shedding light on the role of Asians in America as co-creators of critical national infrastructure, Leland Stanford’s fortune, and the story of our country.
About Professor Gordon Chang
Gordon H. Chang is the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities and a professor of American history at Stanford University. He received his doctorate from Stanford and his B.A. from Princeton University.
Professor Chang's academic interests lie in the connection between race and ethnicity in America, and American foreign relations. He focuses on trans-Pacific relations and the inter-connections between East Asia and America and is interested in political, social, and cultural interactions from the earliest days of America to the present. His current research project concerns the recovery and interpretation of the experiences of Chinese railroad workers in North America. Please visit www.chineserailroadworkers.stanford.edu for more information.
Get tix here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sapaac-a4p-summer-social-the-race-to-build-americas-infrastructure-tickets-12145871629
Gaming and the Classroom
A recent article inThe Atlantic asks "Are Multiplayer Games the Future of Education?" The feature highlights Professor Lee Sheldon at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute, who uses an extensive array of games and storytelling to teach his classes.
There's a nice variation from Lee on the "guide by the side instead of sage on the stage" sentiment (ala IDEO's David Kelley): "The result is that students feel that they are in control, with the teacher merely serving as a game master." I also liked the sentiment behind this comment: "The goal," says Lee, "is to make learning more about intrinsic motivation—to leverage a learner’s desire to explore, be curious, gain mastery, and so on. If a learner can gain experience points and level up as they gain knowledge, perhaps we can cultivate life-deep, life-wide, and lifelong learners."
On the other hand, "Gamification also gets a little bit of pushback for its sometimes heavy-handed use of extrinsic rewards to make course material palatable to students" according to Finnish profesor Juho Hamari.* That's a very important critique. We have to make sure that getting points and badges isn't what's driving the learning, but something more fundamental about the subject matter. That's the problem with Lee equating "experience points and level[ing] up" with intrinsic motivation. Points and levels are artificial and imprecise ways of describing knowledge. When designing games that really tap into "intrinsic motivation," learning itself should be the object (and the process fun). Learning should not be a mere by-product of grabbing digital goodies.
That's why I am fond of gamification when it is structured around enjoying whimsical experiences or building a sense of community—for instance "The Game" that Jeff Watson ran at USC. Social interaction, collaboration, unbinding student creativity—these are the real goals, and it really is about the journey itself, rather than just the ending. That might be what distinguishes subject-based games (e.g. "Learn European history!"), where the goal is absorbing a particular body of knowledge, from process-oriented games (design thinking, empathy building, etc.) where the lived experience itself is what matters. Perhaps gamification strategies might be more powerful and/or more appropriate for the latter scenario.
It's true that playing Age of Empires III can teach particular elements of history. Battle tactics and economic management aside, the pedagogy in such a game orbits around character names, civilization strengths, and unit types (all of which could be problematic if not placed in real historical context). In this case, the "lore" surrounding games may be more important—and probably where most of the learning happens—as opposed to the battles or economy building, which are simply game mechanics. Developing a rich, historically-truthful, and complex lore could be valuable for imparting subject-matter knowledge, and games where players create, memorize or play-act narrative could be influential in this regard.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how these types of pedagogical experiments continue to develop, and I look forward to incorporating game elements into my own classes at Stanford. After all, it's just as fun for the instructor to develop as for the students to play!
*It's rather fitting that "Hamari and Jonna Koivisto of the University of Tampere in Finland [who] have studied gamification extensively" and found that "some students simply dislike competition" hail from the land where in the realm of education, equality, rather than competitiveness, is the hallmark.
And our new online course is live! Whew...
International Women's Health + Human Rights has been simultaneously launched in both the US (English) and China (中文版). It is Stanford's first MOOC to be hosted on XuetangX, the Chinese education platform affiliated with Tsinghua University. (Hooray for openness! Both platforms are based on open source Open EdX.)
It's the first time for a course to be run in parallel in different countries, with multilingual teams collaborating behind the scenes. Such a spate of e-mails, Skype calls and WeChat messages flying across the Pacific recently!
Keep your fingers crossed--I'm not sure if this is a marathon or a sprint, if today is the beginning or the end. (Something in me suspects it's the former.) Regardless, it's a milestone at least.
Much gratitude to all the friends and colleagues, who've helped make this possible, and especially to my collaborator Anne Firth Murray—a dedicated teacher, tireless activist, obsessive editor (we bond over that), and energetic inspirer.
Let's keep moving ahead! There's plenty of room for educational innovation and experimentation in the weeks ahead.
Screenshots from Stanford Online and XuetangX showcasing our MOOC "International Women's Health and Human Rights" on the front page of each platform.
We are about to launch the newest version of the International Women's Health and Human Rights open online course.
Please find more information on this experience at www.internationalwomenshealth.org
Kevin F. Hsu
Motivated to design educational experiences for the next generation