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Michael Wong

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Michael Wong

GSE Program: 
MS, Learning Design and Technology (LDT)
BA in Fine Art, Object-based Practice (Gold & Silversmithing), RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Year of GSE degree: 
Sydney, Australia

"LDT is a great program if you’re interested in exploring education in and beyond the classroom. It allows you to follow your own interest and exposes you to a range of different tools, technologies, and theories behind educational products."

Describe LDT.

At its most basic level, it’s about exploring the design of learning tools and technologies. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s weekly seminar classes with your friends and faculty who care about you. It’s chats with mates who are trying to get to the depths of intriguing questions and readings that stretch your mind. It’s social gatherings to unwind or celebrate each other’s achievements. It’s one-on-one conversations with advisors and mentors to guide you towards where you really want to be. It’s interacting with people who are passionate about different things but all love education and learning. At its core, LDT is a community, and it's a really, really lovely one.

Is there some time that you’ve spent with a member of the GSE faculty that is memorable?

There are so many faculty members who have been kind and generous with their time, I can’t narrow it down to one! Karin Forssell, the director of the LDT program, is a constant source of guidance for my LDT journey and career development. I’ve been fortunate to have Victor Lee as my advisor and a teacher. He welcomed me into the DISTAL [Data Interactions & STEM Teaching and Learning] lab and has helped me to continually develop my ideas and skills. Conversations with Aaron Ragsdale, the GSE Makery manager, have shaped my approach to makerspace learning, and I’m lucky to call him a friend. Denise Pope, Brigid Barron, and Sarah Levine have all taught me valuable research skills that have changed how I think about academic papers. And John Willinsky has been an amazing source of career and postgraduate study advice. Also, his discerning coffee palate has helped me to seek out the best beans in the country!

Why Stanford?

The LDT program has been at the top of my list for a long time. It’s one of the best programs for edtech and educational product design and, as a maker, I couldn’t say no to the GSE Makery! Stanford’s facilities are amazing, and the faculty are even better. Most importantly, the Stanford community is welcoming, kind, and inclusive. I love how quickly I’ve been able to call Stanford home.

How would you describe the other students in your cohort?

The students in LDT are some of the most interesting, unique, fun, and kind people who I have ever met. They are generous and engaging, and always find ways to contribute to the cohort and their friendships. Building friendships with the LDT cohort, and the wider GSE community, has been the most enjoyable and valuable experience I have had at Stanford, and I know that these relationships will continue long after I’ve graduated.

What drew you to education?

My education experiences as a school student were mixed. I loved the diversity of opportunities that I was afforded, but I never loved the formal classroom elements of school. I ended up studying gold & silversmithing (jewelry and metalwork) for my undergraduate degree and eventually got the opportunity to teach. Teaching jewelry manufacturing expanded my understanding of education and I realized how much I loved workshop-based teaching. This experience was particularly formative in leading me to pursue a degree, and career, in education.

What were you doing prior to applying to the GSE?

Prior to applying to LDT I was working as the maker-technologies coordinator at a high school in Australia. In this role I was able to continue learning about edtech products while gaining teaching experience.

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What are your career plans and goals?

Who knows! LDT has changed some of my plans and goals, and it's opening up a lot of doors. I would love to work in informal learning environments like museums or science centers. Alternatively, I would love to create maker curricula for schools. Ultimately, my goal is to build programs and products that allow more kids to realize what they can learn through physically exploring objects and processes like making!

What advice do you have for students who are trying to decide whether to attend the LDT program?

LDT is a great program if you’re interested in exploring education in and beyond the classroom. It allows you to follow your own interest and exposes you to a range of different tools, technologies, and theories behind educational products. If you are interested in how people learn, and how that can be improved, then LDT is worth checking out!

Any tips for incoming students to help them get the most from their time at Stanford? 

Find a way to balance your time here. There is a lot going on and a lot of opportunities—too many to say yes to. One of the biggest things I had to learn in my first quarter was how to say “no” and be okay missing out. One of my advisors told me to lean into the JOMO—joy of missing out. In order to really commit to the things you are interested in, you may not be able to do everything. Also, the Stanford area is beautiful, and the weather is amazing. I’ve loved being able to get away from study by getting on my bike or jumping in the pool.

What do you do to relax and have fun?

The sports facilities and natural beauty of the Stanford area make getting out and moving your body a pretty great way to unwind and have fun. Since coming to Stanford I’ve hit my first ever golf ball, started playing badminton with friends, and cruised through the local hills on my bike. In addition to playing sports, there are some great spots around campus to hang out with friends or relax alone, whether that be the roof of CERAS (our education building), at the pool, or on the Stanford Oval.

Can you share a particular moment in your time at Stanford when you learned a lesson that will stay with you?

Community is key. This is something that I felt the second I got to Stanford, and it's something that I will always remember. Building a sense of community for yourself and those around you is so powerful, valuable, and beautiful. From the “LDT Birthday Paloozas,” where we celebrated our classmates' birthdays, to “LD coffee and Tea” every Friday morning, to “GSE Pub nights,” these are the moments and memories that I will treasure and remember for years to come. 

Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

If you are thinking about joining the LDT community, or if you are already here but want a chat, please feel free to reach out to us! I’ve loved connecting with prospective students and alumni, and it would be great to meet you, too.

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Photos by Rod Searcey

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Jeremy Edwards
Associate Director of Degree Programs

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Wesley Horng
Wesley Horng
Associate Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs

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Caroline Stasulat
Associate Director of Degree Programs
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