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This article makes it clear just how irrelevant the recent story about "Canvas overtaking Blackboard" really is. "If we generously round up the total market value of both Instructure Canvas and Blackboard Learn to $2 billion USD each, they still account for very little as the industry reached $107 billion in revenue in 2015 globally." The companies recognize this generally, which is why they're moving toward (or have moved toward) a platform and marketplace model. But significantly: "The one LMS company not involved in non-LMS endeavors? Moodle."Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This paper shows "to what extent assessment software such as G-Rubric is mature enough to be used with students." G-Rubric is a tool to automatically evaluate student's open-ended answers in a MOOC - see the website (in Spanish). According to the authors, "It offers them enriched and personalised feedback that proved entirely satisfactory." Moreover, "Comparing tutors’ marks with G-Rubric grades, a remarkable correlation and no significant differences between the means has been found. Additionally, tutor scores presented a significant inter-group variability."Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
I've said before that advertising is the original fake news. This article documents a decades-long effort to keep advertising away from children online, chronicling the work of Kathryn Montgomery and Jeff Chester to prevent "online playgrounds populated by the likes of Chester Cheetah and Ronald McDonald." Now they are working to prevent things like eavesdropping on children through the internet of things.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Networks! Of course! That's the secret trend in education nobody thought of until now. This article interviews the authors of three new books on learning networks at a recent conference. Networks " can happen in any community—among educators, among schools or districts themselves and, of course, among students. And so emphasizing learning networks nudges educators to think about learning in different ways."Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Game based learning should be one of the most important strategies for 21st Century education, but there is resistance from certain quarters. Humans have enjoyed playing games since time immemorial, and are hard-wired to do so. Now in the age of technology, we have opportunities our ancestors could not even dream of. Video arcade games such as Asteroids and Space Invaders of the 1970s were just the start of the rise to prominence of digital games. They were simplistic, but none the less compelling, and players like me spent hours honing their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
As video games developed, so emerged a realisation that they could be designed to educate. In the last few years, through the development of handheld controls such as the Nintendo Wii, 3D screens (e.g. Nintendo 3DS) and non-touch gestural and voice controls (Microsoft's XBox 360 Kinect) games have become increasingly captivating, and have an immersive quality. Go further, and the visor equipped games in recent years have taken immersive experiences to another level. Games, whether digital or analogue, handheld or immersive, have the capability to motivate, challenging players to improve their dexterity, problem solving and reasoning skills, encourage teamwork and collaboration.
Teachers who appropriate games into classrooms and learning contexts need to do so carefully, but once implemented, and with the game integrated into learning, we discover that they have a huge role to play in 21st Century learning. As Mark Grundel argues: 'Creativity, problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, decision making, risk taking, all (are) found in game-based learning.'
How long will it be before educators accept that games based learning is a legitimate pedagogy and not a waste of time?
State of play by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
I don’t generally advertise conferences on this site. There are just too many and besides most of ridiculously expensive. But I am much taken by the Learning with / On the Open Web conference taking place in Coventry, UK on 25 October. The conference promotes itself as a “One-day event celebrating the Open Web as a socio-technical ecosystem for teaching, learning, scholarly communication and public engagement!”
The organisers say “Join us to share, learn and participate in how the Open Web can be utilised in different educational contexts and why it is core to the development of digital literacies and critical pedagogy approaches.”
The Open Web is acknowledged as a loosely defined term that can be interpreted in different ways. However, the organisers are keen on contributions focusing on digital practices that involve the use of online technologies that are aligned with the founding principles of the World Wide Web (WWW), imagined by its creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee as “an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.”
Oh, and the conference is free. More details here.
We are seeing a tremendous surge in interest regarding Online Program Management (OPM) companies. Certainly many of the major higher education news outlets are running stories on them and many analyst firms are publishing white papers. That's a sign that others who pay attention to this space are hearing...something. But it's not a strong signal by itself.
In our own work, we are definitely hearing more interest in OPMs, and we are also hearing from OPM companies (and OPM-like companies) that there is a pick-up in incoming requests from universities. For example, we had an opportunity to facilitate an institution-wide approach at UCLA to vet and pre-qualify OPM vendors as individual colleges determine their online strategy. There was a pretty robust and diverse range of responses. Equally importantly, the pre-qualification approach indicates a sense that different schools and other stakeholder groups within large universities or systems may have different needs.
You can see this as well in Open SUNY's system-wide Request for Information (RFI). Here is one of the largest university systems in the country, and they are essentially casting a wide net, asking, "What do you think we should know about this space in order to serve our 64 very different campuses with a wide range of needs, while also serving the needs of the system as a whole?"
That wide open RFI from SUNY really speaks to the good news/bad news of the current state of the OPM market. The good news is that there is an increasingly broad range of options for colleges—or schools within those colleges—with different needs. The bad news is that the market is such a mess right now that it's hard for colleges to find the right vendors to talk to and hard for vendors to find potential customers who need what they're offering.
A lot of the analysis we've seen so far has been variations on a theme: "There's a lot of [mostly unspecified] innovation in the the OPM market. For example, revenue sharing isn't the only financial model anymore!"
While there is indeed increasing variation in the OPM space—only some of which we would call genuine "innovation"—we believe the expanding range of financing options is the tip of the iceberg. The deeper cause of the current chaos in the market is largely the result of a more profound broadening out of demand. This, in turn, is driven by a tectonic shift in how universities go about fulfilling their core mission of enabling student success. As new change management needs emerge, we don't yet have names for the solution categories that meet those needs. But since the new solutions share elements with solutions to online program management problems, everything is getting lumped under the heading of "OPM."
There are several factors that are major contributors to the current rush to by vendors to call themselves OPMs:
- The variation between kinds of programs the online programs that universities are looking to launch is significant and increasing. As a result, different OPM vendors are specializing in different kinds of programs.
- More universities are making fine-grained choices about which aspects of their online programs they want to outsource to a specialist, which aspects they want to pay a consultant to help them get started or improve, and which aspects they believe they can do themselves. This broadening out of customer choices is creating further variability in in OPM business models and OPM-like services offered by an increasingly wide range of companies.
- As the OPM business disaggregates, universities are increasingly recognizing that certain functions that OPMs perform, like recruiting students who are likely to be successful in a program, redesigning courses to maximize student success, providing early interventions to promote student success, and working with employers to help with career readiness and post-degree employment are all services that might be useful for improving the success of their traditional programs.
The common theme with all three factors is that customers who think they are all looking for "OPMs" are, in fact, trying to solve a wide range of different problems. So wide a range, in fact, that the term "OPM" is on the verge of becoming meaningless.
We believe that all of these needs belong under a larger umbrella that we call "Digital Enablement Services." In general, colleges and universities are beginning to move from having a philosophical commitment to student success toward operational excellence at enabling student success. The idea here is to use modern tools—and more importantly, the educational practices and organizational processes enabled by those tools—to do a better job of making sure that students don't fall through the cracks.
It's easiest for universities to see the need to improve their operational excellence when they are launching a new, (hopefully) revenue-generating and net cashflow-positive degree or certificate programs. They are making a substantial upfront financial investment in the hope that future tuition will make that investment pay off for the university as well as for the students. To do this, they need to keep students happy enough that they stay in the program, even as the university loses the traditional face-to-face touchpoints that they have relied on to engage with their students and have to figure out how to build digital equivalents. It can feel like a scary (and potentially career-ending) undertaking. This is why 2U—a publicly traded OPM with a $3.9 billion valuation—made a smart branding choice with their tag line, "No back row."1 It is also why universities have been willing to accept revenue share arrangements. They reduce the up-front cost of the program—sometimes to the point of making an otherwise unaffordable program possible—and shift some of the risk to the vendor in return for a share of new revenues and some sharing of control over certain aspects of the program design and management.
There is increasing interest from universities to step away from revenue sharing agreements and be more selective in how they use external vendors to plan, launch, and manage new online programs. That's a real trend, though it is being somewhat hyped by shallow market coverage and some industry players who are looking to differentiate themselves against more established competitors. As far as we can tell, there is growth across the different models, particularly since the range of program types universities are looking to offer increasingly have different kinds of risk profiles.
Think about the differences in launching and running the following different types of programs: (1) a largely synchronous online nursing degree, including a required face-to-face practicum at a hospital, (2) a mostly self-paced, competency-based MBA, (3) a "micro-masters" degree in cyber-security, and (4) a code academy. Think about what it would take to design and launch each type of program, how much new expertise each would require of the university, how much support the students would need in each case, how hard it would be to recruit students, to track them in the existing ERP system, and so on.
Given the differences in these challenges, there should be demand for significant variety in OPM services with different sweet spots. OPMs with different models do end up competing head-to-head in the market sometimes, but that's partly because customers don't yet have a good way of sorting out what kinds of characteristics are most important to support their specific goals. In its current state, the market isn't efficient at enabling customers and vendors to determine if there's a good fit.
The chaos we are seeing now is nothing compared to what's coming. Universities are beginning to see needs for OPM-like services elsewhere. As budgets continue to tighten and pressure to improve outcomes continues to rise on public colleges and universities, academic leaders are increasingly realizing that improving degree completion and decreasing time to degree are good for both the student and the financial health of the institution. At the same time, changing student expectations are putting pressure on high-end private colleges and universities to recognize that the formula which has made them successful for the past century is not guaranteed to bring them top students and generous alumni in the next one. This has the potential to be a Pandora's box. Where is the line for defining an OPM? And how can universities find vendors with the kinds of OPM-like services and business models that are appropriate for helping solve their particular problem?
Over the next months, we at e-Literate are going to try to put some definition around this market, first by defining the boundaries of the OPM solution category—and the variation within those boundaries—and then by naming and defining other, similar-looking solution categories that solve different problems. We will be blogging about it and releasing at least one report about it as well.
- Disclosure: 2U is one of the sponsors of the Empirical Educator Project.
University of Calgary,
Aug 14, 2018
As noted in today's "Four Short Links" from O'Reilly, "The Open Logic Project is a collection of teaching materials on mathematical logic aimed at a non-mathematical audience, intended for use in advanced logic courses as taught in many philosophy departments." Nice. Though as Tony Hirst comments, " the TeX source does mean you need a (La)TeX environment to run it (and the project does bundle some of the custom .sty style files you need in the repo, which is handy)." More on the project.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.
Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.
The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.
We have a new project starting soon on informal learning and smart cities (more details in next few weeks). I am particularly interested in how we might be able to use video in such a project. Anyway I stumbled on this video of Barcelona from 1905 and was thinking both how familiar the different places in the video look and at the same time how different.