TEACHING & LEARNING
There is an indisputable need for evidence-based instructional designs that create the optimal conditions for learners with different knowledge, skills and motivations to succeed in MOOCs. Harvard University partnered with TutorGen to explore the feasibility of adaptive learning and assessment technology implications of adaptive functionality to course (re)design in HarvardX, and examine the effects on learning outcomes, engagement and course drop-out rates. This blog provides an overview of the study in HarvardX. You are welcome to read the additional blogs in this series from the project team with a deep dive into course design, technology, research methods deployed in HarvardX’s Super-Earths and Life in 2016-2017.
A few years back, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) found itself in the news for the rollout of iPads districtwide, which some readers out there might remember. Since then, what’s going on with technology in Southern California’s biggest public school district?
Well, in one region—the Local District Northwest sector of the district—administrators, schools and teachers have been busy expanding efforts for blended learning implementation in collaboration with Stepan Mekhitarian. Mekhitarian is currently the Blended Learning Coordinator for that LAUSD sector, but that’s not the only education role on his resume. He’s been a math teacher, an administrator and conducted a doctoral research study on the skills and training needed to implement blended learning effectively and as such, he’s got advice for district admins on how to connect with all of those respective groups.
The textbook publishing industry is considering a transformation that could significantly alter how faculty members assign readings, publishers make money and students obtain course materials.
For years, that transformation has been portrayed as a shift from physical textbooks to digital course materials, but that description doesn’t capture underlying changes in how course materials are delivered and paid for as the industry moves away from transactions and toward subscriptions.
That strategy is emerging as the industry faces pressures from all sides. Technology has given students new ways to obtain information. The rental and used book markets have cut into publishers’ bottom lines. Open educational resource providers have sprung up to offer free or affordable alternatives to traditional textbooks. And while the cost of textbooks continues to rise, some studies show students now spend slightly less on course materials than they did a decade ago.
Teams that used to be responsible for the acquisition, implementation, and support of technology are now being tasked with transforming higher education. Today, they are set at the middle of the academy, between administration, faculty and students, in a position to reimagine how learning happens.
In recent years, colleges and universities have recognized this and begun merging academic technology and faculty development. They’re adding the word "innovation"to the titles of centers for teaching and learning and the individuals who lead them. These leaders are not only getting new titles—their backgrounds are also changing. Today, edtech leaders are much more likely to be teachers with technology expertise rather than technologists. But it takes more than employing a new structure, changing the skillsets of a team or implementing a catchy title to make change happen, especially in higher education.
Each year, when they get to campus, more than half a million American college students have to take so-called remedial or developmental education classes to teach them basic math and English skills they should have learned in high school. And that’s not even the full story. The full story cannot be accurately told, because of problems in how states collect the data — if they collect it at all.
Here’s what we do know:
During the 2014 academic year, at least 569,751 students at 884 public two- and four-year colleges across 33 states were deemed not ready for some college-level work.
In the late 1980s, China’s growing economy demanded connectivity as it struggled to reach the United States’ 90 percent household telephone penetration rate. As it turned out, wiring China was a physical and economic impossibility: social and technological realities stood in stark opposition to large-scale needs.
And yet, in just a few short years, China’s telecommunications progress came to define what we now describe as “leapfrogging” — pioneering the application of new technologies to bypass the older framework in place to unlock their 1.5 billion citizens’ economic potential.
In the technology world, “smart” is often synonymous with “better” or “more advanced.” We speak of smartwatches, smartphones, and smart TVs. These are smart because they can connect to the internet and generally do more, or do something better, than their traditional, often analog counterparts. Smart devices create opportunities for interactive and, in some cases, autonomous operation. Peripheral connections through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enable devices to track our movements and communicate faster to improve our productivity, fitness or health.
Chet Jordan stood in front of his class at Guttman Community College dressed in black skinny jeans and a bowler hat, sipping coffee. He took a straw poll of his students: How many of you know that this school doesn’t place students in not-for-credit remedial classes?
The answer surprised him. Not only were the six students in the room aware of the policy, they all said it was a central reason they chose Guttman.
This year's Inside Higher Ed survey of chief academic officers repeated a pattern of recent years: increased support for competency-based education, but greater levels of support in public than in private higher education. This year, 91 percent of provosts at public colleges and universities said that they favored awarding credit through CBE (as competency-based education is frequently called). The figure was a healthy majority, but lower, at 72 percent, at private colleges. The numbers have been creeping up a few percentage points each year.