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A Flexible, Interoperable Digital Learning Platform: Are We There Yet?

e-Literate - Hace 3 horas 17 mins

By Michael FeldsteinMore Posts (1104)

In 2005, some colleagues and I had been tasked with identifying a single LMS that could serve the needs of all 64 campuses of the State University of New York—from Adirondack Community College to SUNY Stony Brook to the two medical schools. We came to the conclusion that no single LMS at the time could meet such diverse needs. We proposed instead that SUNY should build a modular system from which each campus, and indeed each educator, could create their own fit-for-purpose digital learning environment. We called this idea the Learning Management Operating System, or LMOS.

We were neither the first nor the last group of people to propose such an idea. We had been preceded by e-Learning Framework, which had been put forth by the UK’s Joint Information Services Committee (Jisc) a year or two earlier. In 2012, Phil wrote about the idea of  Learning Platform here on e-Literate. In 2015, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) started promoting the idea of a Next-Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE).

There are some conceptual and implementation differences among these different formulations, but they share two things in common. First, they all posited that contemporary learning environments were insufficiently flexible to meet a diverse range of teaching and learning needs. Second, none of them have been implemented. An upcoming issue of EDUCAUSE Review will focus on NGDLE, in part to try to build momentum for it. I have contributed an article.

Nearly a decade and a half after the idea of some kind of modular learning environment surfaced, why hasn’t it happened yet? How close are we? What are the barriers? Having recently returned from IMS Global’s annual Learning Impact meeting, I am convinced that we are closer than ever. But how quickly the remaining barriers fall and how well the end result works will depend heavily on what happens next in the standards-making process.

From Portals to Platforms

The basic rationale for a more flexible digital learning environment is not hard to understand. As I wrote in 2004 about the dominant LMS of that time,

The analogy I often make…is to a classroom where all the seats are bolted to the floor. How the room is arranged matters. If students are going to be having a class discussion, maybe you put the chairs in a circle. If they will be doing groupwork, maybe you put them in groups. If they are doing lab work, you put them around lab tables. A good room set-up can’t make a class succeed by itself, but a bad room set-up can make it fail. If there’s a loud fan drowning out conversation or if the room is so hot that it’s hard to concentrate, you will lose students.

Two things have changed since then. First, we now have many more discipline- and pedagogy-specific digital tools that can be incorporated into the learning environments. To continue the analogy, we have gas jets for chemistry experiments that we can mount on our lab tables. Our notion of the “learning environment” now extends well beyond chairs, tables, and heating or cooling units. Learning analytics, the latest ed tech fashion, can be viewed as just another set of capabilities that expand our notion of our digital “learning environment,” by which we mean an environment that is conducive to learning.

The second thing that has changed—and this is the more radical of the two—is our shared notion of digital environments in general. In 2004, the prevailing vision for a configurable digital environment was one of rearranging boxes and menus on a screen. We had web portals like AltaVista, and Yahoo!, and AOL. Enterprise portals from companies like SUN, IBM, BEA, and Oracle followed this model as well. The basic idea was to bring more functionality to the user with as few clicks as possible. One of the dominant rationales at the time was fear of the user getting “lost.”

Today, many of us have dozens of different applications that we carry around with us all the time in our mobile phones. We are not disturbed or disoriented by the fact that Yelp looks and works completely differently from Google Maps, which looks and works  differently from Pokémon GO. We do not worry about getting lost in our software. Software design and user sensibilities have co-evolved to a point where we don’t have to worry as much about squeezing everything the user needs onto one page (never mind onto one screen, because some users didn’t know to scroll down).

This does not mean that interoperability doesn’t matter anymore. To the contrary, it has moved from the surface structure of the portal, where applications could sit side-by-side in adjacent boxes but largely couldn’t interact with each other, to the deep structure of the platform where, for example, our calendar app can pass an address to our GPS app or we can log into many random apps with our Twitter or Facebook or Google credentials.

Wikipedia defines a computing platform as

the environment in which a piece of software is executed. It may be the hardware or the operating system (OS), even a web browser or other application, as long as the code is executed in it. [Emphasis added.]

The term computing platform can refer to different abstraction levels, including a certain hardware architecture, an operating system (OS), and runtime libraries.[1] In total it can be said to be the stage on which computer programs can run.

We have moved from a world of portals to a world of platforms.

From Learning Management Systems to Learning Platforms

When my colleagues and I talked about a learning management “operating system,” we were thinking in terms similar to Wikipedia’s description of a computing platform. I am going to use Phil’s “learning platform” terminology going forward because it is more evergreen. A learning platform should be a software environment on which educational programs can run analogously to iOS and Android being software environments on which mobile programs can run.

Despite multiple advances on multiple fronts, today’s LMSs have not yet made this leap. I know there are LMS developers who would disagree with me on this point.  I therefore offer you a litmus test. When you customize the digital learning environment provided by your LMS, do you end up spending a large percentage of your time rearranging boxes and menus on a screen?

I rest my case.

A learning platform would offer educational app developers an environment on which their programs can run. It would provide not just windows and tabs but software services. In fairness, LMSs have offered 3rd-party developers some software services—APIs—almost from the very beginning. But these services are mainly designed to enable those developers to better integrate their tools into the boxes and menus on the LMS screen. They made it easier for developers to send a grade to the LMS grade book or add an assignment to the LMS assignment tool, but they didn’t (and largely still don’t) help developers actually build their learning tools. LMSs generally provide an environment in which learning programs can run from a user’s perspective, rather than an environment on which they can run from a software runtime perspective. A learning platform should provide services that are utilized by the developers for core functionality in the learning apps themselves.

Given this refinement of the definition, another way we can tell that we don’t have learning platforms yet is that Feldstein’s Law still holds:

Feldstein’s Law: Any educational app that is actively developed for long enough and has a large enough user base will become indistinguishable from a badly designed LMS.

If you build a great little educational app and it gets some traction in the market, sooner or later, somebody is going to say, “This is great, but it would be even better with an announcements tool.” And somebody else would say, “I’d really love to be able to have a place for class discussions.” And another user will chime and say, “Discussions would be great, but I’d like to grade student participation. Oh, and I also need an assignments list. Which would ideally show up in some sort of a calendar.”

On and on it goes. The app development team recognizes at some point that they are building features that are redundant to those of an LMS. But context is everything, and the users want these capabilities put in the right spot in the app, in the right way. So the developers keep building. And building. And building. Many of these features are not the ones that the developers think make their app great. But they have to be done. So they are. Often quickly and badly. And even if they are done well, the cumulative result is generally bad because the app was never designed to be an LMS and, after a while, all those unanticipated bolt-ons make an unholy mess of the user experience. Which the developers never have time to fix because they are always busy adding the bolt-on.

Here is a warning to any educational app developers who are reading this post: You will know you have gone too far down the road paved with good intentions when you start building a grade book.

Nobody should ever want to build a grade book. The choice to build a grade book should be viewed somewhat like the choice to have one’s leg amputated.

“Would you like to have your leg amputated?”

“Uh…is it gangrenous?”


“Is there another reason why I will die if I don’t have my leg amputated?”


“Then I choose not to have my leg amputated. (But thanks for asking.)”

Once you start building a grade book, you will quickly find that you can consume your entire development team’s velocity just keeping up with grade book feature requests. “Can I drop the lowest score?” “Can I grade on a curve?” “Can I use points?” “Can I mix points, letters, and percentages?” “Can I change the scheme that you use to convert letter grades to percentages?”

Your development team can keep working on these feature requests, full-time, and not reach the end of the request list before the heat death of the universe.

Heat. Death. Of. The. Universe.

And nobody will ever thank you for building that grade book. Nobody will ever say, “I love your product because it has such an amazing grade book.” Not ever. Paradoxically, the single feature set that catapulted Canvas into prominence, far more than any other, was Speed Grader, because it enabled educators to spend less time in the grade book.

The problem is that, for many educational app developers, the leg is gangrenous. They need a grade book and they don’t have one. They know their users already have a grade book in their LMS. But it’s not accessible to developers in a way that enables them to avoid having to build their own. They can send a grade to the LMS grade book via the current LTI standard’s outcomes service. But that really isn’t enough. Today’s LMSs are not learning platforms.

What would it look like if they were? How would that change learning app development?

Grade Book as a Service

Back around 2008, some stakeholders in the Sakai community decided that the next generation of Sakai should be redesigned from the ground up. It was to be called Sakai 3. But the development team anticipated that there would be certain complex apps that would take them an uncomfortably long time to rebuild to the point of feature parity with the old system. The grade book was one of those apps. So the Sakai development team did something interesting. They made Sakai an LTI tool provider. Rather than just being able to take other people’s boxes and put them into the Sakai screen, they would enable Sakai 2’s boxes to be put into Sakai 3’s screen.

The grade book is a particularly good candidate for this kind of treatment, not only because no responsible human being should ever willingly inflict yet another electronic grade book on the world, but also because grade books tend to be discreet apps in terms of the user interface. They are complicated enough that they need all the real estate on the screen. Launching the grade book is a little like launching Yelp on your phone. You don’t care if it looks nothing like the app you just had open a moment ago, because when you’re in Yelp, you want to do Yelpy things. In many cases, one could stick an LMS grade book into another learning app and have feel fine to the users, particularly if those users were also already users of the LMS in question. In a world of learning platforms, users would always have their own LMS’s grade book at their fingertips regardless of what learning app they are using, LMS vendors would provide an essential and ubiquitous service, and learning app developers would never have to amputate their legs.

In order to make this work, we need two pieces. First, we need the learning platform providers to turn their grade books into LTI tool providers. Interestingly, in one of the sessions at IMS Learning Impact, Instructure’s Melissa Loble said the company has ambitions to turn Canvas into an LTI tool provider. So this is not a crazy scenario to imagine. At least one LMS provider has done this and another has declared that they intend do it. The other thing that’s necessary is a robust service the learning app developers can use to send multiple grades of multiple types to the grade book. LTI’s current outcomes service is not up to the task. But the next version, which is still in draft, should be able to handle this use case. With these two capabilities, learning app developers could send any grades from their app via a standard to whatever LMS grade book their customers are already using. They could also surface the LMS grade book itself inside their learning app so that users would have fewer clicks to get to that information.

Discussion as a Service

Not all learning environment capabilities are as “chunky” as a grade book and therefore as easy to integrate this way. A good example is discussion. Learning app developers don’t often start out wanting discussion boards; they usually want individual discussion threads, which is another way of saying that they want students and educators to be able to have individual, focused discussions about some exercise or piece of content in the context of that exercise of piece of content. Building a discussion thread capability is easy enough. The problem, again, is scope creep. Pretty soon, people want to go to one place where they can see a unified view of all discussions. Or they want to see the discussions that have new posts. Or the ones that have no replies yet. Maybe they want to grade discussions. Or they want branching. Or the ability to embed mathematical formulas. And so on and so on.

The scope creep potential is different from it is for a grade book, though, because it is limited by context. Developers of a history app will probably not be asked to implement MathML display capabilities, for example. More often than not, the app developers will need some subset of possible functionality to meet the need of their core users and then will have a larger subset that represents the long tail of user demand. (In contrast, any collection of 10 educators will come up with at least 20 grading schemes when left to their own devices, regardless of discipline or context.)

There are a number of different ways that a learning platform could help solve the discussion problem, but one way would be to provide a set of discussion APIs. The educational app developer would build just enough user interface to solve the problem that the app needs solved and use the learning platform for all the back-end work, calling only the functionality they need through standards-based APIs. Want a simple discussion thread? Easy. Want to add some sort of a roll-up view? Can do.

The current version of IMS Caliper has a full information model for discussion. It could theoretically be used in this way.

But nobody I know of has plans to do anything like this right now, and nobody I know of is checking to make sure that Caliper is designed to provide high-reliability services that learning app developers would need before they could trust such essential services to their LMS integration partners. And that gets us to the heart of the problem that has retarded progress on toward learning platforms for close to a decade and a half now.


The last barrier to any standards-based interoperability solution is almost always the politics of implementation. The whole point of having interoperability standards is that there are multiple parties that need to share data and/or functionality. But those parties are almost never equally motivated. For example, right now LMS vendors want to everybody to implement version 2 of LTI, in part because it makes installing and configuring tools easier. If you’re an LMS vendor these days, you have customers who are installing and configuring lots of LTI tools, so this is probably a priority for you. On the other hand, if you’re an educational app vendor, you only have to worry about having customers install and configure your tool. The multiple tool problem is not your problem. So you don’t implement. Which means that LTI 2, and any other benefits it might bring, stalls. The LMS vendors can implement LTI 2, but there are no parties implementing on the other side, then you have a world in which every home has electrical outlets but no appliances to plug into them.

When this happens, responsible stewards of any interoperability standard will take a step back and try to identify a less ambitious subset of features that all sides might agree to implement. This is exactly what is happening now with both LTI and Caliper. In the case of LTI, the standards committee has split off a few capabilities from LTI 2 and made them compatible as add-ons with LTI 1.x. Meanwhile in the Caliper working group, since the use cases that seem to interest most folks are mainly variations of sticking user data into a Learning Records Store for machine-readable analytics, there is a debate about whether parts of the specification that might useful for other use cases are just getting in everybody’s way for the things they want to do today. These are exactly the sorts of discussions that stewards of interoperability standards should lead in order to get everyone on board with implementing a standard. After all, half a loaf is better than none, right? Except that this pruning process is likely to move us further away from the goal of true learning platforms.

In order for this to change, the LMS vendors would have to lean into the idea of becoming environments that learning apps run on rather than merely the environment that they run in. Learning app developers would be much more excited about implementing LTI 2 if they knew the LMS would offer them multiple services that they could use to avoid the thankless task of rebuilding the features that LMSs already do a good job of providing. They would gladly invest time in implementing a standard that would enable them to focus on the differentiators that make their apps great rather than running on the hamster wheel of keeping up with LMS feature table stakes.

Table stakes for mice; I couldn’t find poker-playing hamsters

Will this happen? I don’t know. The biggest barriers to creating a learning platform were not technical 12 years ago and they certainly aren’t technical today. I believe incentives in the industry have changed enough that we could have a win-win scenario for all implementing parties. But pushing through the last barrier will require at least two of the major LMS vendors to agree on a common vision of the future and make a major commitment to address some of these use cases via the standards.

The post A Flexible, Interoperable Digital Learning Platform: Are We There Yet? appeared first on e-Literate.

Update on Canadian survey of online learning

Tony Bates - Hace 21 horas 33 mins

This update builds on two earlier posts:

The online questionnaire has now been distributed by e-mail to every public university and college in Canada, a total of 215 institutions in all. The questionnaire will have been routed through the office of the Provost or VP Education, although it is probable that several people will be involved in each institution in collecting data for the questionnaire. 

There are in fact five versions of the questionnaire:

  • anglophone universities
  • francophone universities
  • anglophone colleges
  • francophone colleges (outside Québec)
  • CEGEPs 

The questionnaire asks for data on

  • distance education enrolments, irrespective of method of delivery
  • online student enrolments (headcount and student course registrations) at different academic levels and in different program areas
  • how many years the institution has been offering online courses
  • the current status of blended and hybrid courses
  • the main technologies being used
  • information about any MOOCs offered
  • future institutional directions in online learning
  • benefits and challenges of online learning.

The deadline for completion has been set at June 12. 

We anticipate the main report will be ready in September, with sub-reports for the following sectors:

  • all universities (anglophone and francophone)
  • all colleges, institutes and CEGEPs
  • all francophone institutions (report in French)

We will also produce other sub-reports on request (for example, a provincial analysis) as well as infographics.

The reports will be available for free on request and the data will be housed at the Ontario College Application Service, and, subject to privacy requirements, will be open to other researchers.

There will be a full presentation of the report and its results at the ICDE Conference on Online Learning in Toronto in October.

We are reliant on e-mails and contact information being up-to-date and sometimes e-mails with attachments get filtered out as spam. So, if you are working in a Canadian public post-secondary institution and are not aware that this data is being collected for this survey, please contact your Provost’s Office to check that the invitation has been received. We need a high response rate from every institution to ensure that the results are valid.

However, to date we are pleased with the immediate response – we already have over 20 full responses within the first week.

E-portfolios from Dublin City University to enhance student employability

Tony Bates - Hace 22 horas 13 mins

Dublin City University (2017) DCU launches new online learning portfolio to enhance student employability 24 May

I have been neglecting my blog because I have been really busy with two major projects: a national survey of online and distance education in Canadian post-secondary education; and Contact North’s Pockets of Innovation.

However I came across this news item from Dublin City University, Ireland, which I though was well worth a mention. 

DCU has … launched an online tool [called Reflect] which will allow its students to create a ‘virtual portfolio’ of their academic, professional and personal achievements.  The new platform will provide a lifelong support to DCU students in securing meaningful employment on graduation and remaining employable for the rest of their careers….. 

It is centred around the 6 key graduate attributes (Creative & Enterprising, Solution-Oriented, Effective Communicators, Globally Engaged, Active Leaders, Committed to Continuous Learning) DCU has identified in partnership with employers as being critical to future employability. 

You can get a very brief idea of what the Reflect platform looks like in this video of the project:


I will be very interested to see how employers take to this use of e-portfolios. It appears that DCU has gone to some length to consult with employers before launching the platform.

If this is successful, it could really shake up the higher education system of assessment. As an employer I think I would be more impressed with an e-portfolio than a transcript of courses and grades, although of course the two can be used together.

Do you know of any similar use of e-portfolios by post-secondary institutions in North America? And if so, how are they working out?

A day in the life

Learning with 'e's - 27 Mayo, 2017 - 15:31
We will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles album Sgt Peppers this week, and it seems very appropriate that my third year students should create a celebratory video with the same title. My ICT and Computing specialists on the B.Ed Primary education programme will be leaving Plymouth University in the next few weeks to take up their first jobs in schools. To say goodbye, they invited my colleague James Bettany and I to take part in the recording of a spoof video, sending up just about everything we've ever done and experienced together over the last 3 years.

I hope you will agree it is a funny, witty and satirical look at higher education in general, and although you may not get some of the inside jokes, you will appreciate the slapstick at least! I'm going to miss teaching this bunch, and I wish them every success in the future in whatever they decide to do. So bon voyage to Charlotte, Hannah, Jess, Edward, Aaron, Tom, Jody, Georgia, Chloe, Claire, Lucy, Emily, Natasha and Frances - go and have great careers in teaching. Go out and make the difference!

Here's the video, which we all hope you will enjoy:

Photo from the video by Aaron Worth

A day in the life by Steve Wheeler was written in Liberec, Czech Republic and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

NSA Recognizes Virginia Tech, U of Nebraska at Omaha for Security Education

Campus Technology - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 23:00
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have named two new universities to join the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. The University of Nebraska Omaha and Virginia Tech are part of the cohort of universities dedicated to designing more interdisciplinary knowledge and hands-on technical skills in cyber operations.

How Facebook's tentacles reach further than you think

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 22:31

Joe Miller, BBC News, May 27, 2017

It's frustrating not being able to click on the images in this BBC article to expand them, as the text is otherwise quite unreadable. But you'll be rewarded with much more than super-large images if you follow the references to the Share Lab website. The Facebook article (detailing the close-knit Stanford-Yale nexus infusing that company and much of Silicon Valley) makes it clear that the 'new normal' (as described by Audrey Watters) emanates from  university values into Silicon Valley (and not vice versa). And there's much more: visualizations of browsing histories, maps of propaganda and information warfare, and on and on. [Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

New post

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 22:08

Matt Bower, May 27, 2017

Matt Bower refers to himself in the third person throughout this blog post introducing us to his work  with the Blended Synchronous Learning project (see He introduces us to the idea of a "blended-reality environment" (which should really just be shortened to 'blended environment'). "Video and sound recording equipment captured activity in a F2F classroom, which was streamed live into a virtual world so that remote participants could see and hear an instructor and F2F peers. In-world activity was also simultaneously displayed on a projector screen, with the audio broadcast via speakers, for the benefit of the F2F participants." This makes sense but in my experience the key is to ensure the video is large enough to display near-life-size avatars or images, and to ensure the audio in each direction is of sufficient volume and timbre to be accepted as being an equal voice. The paper itself is behind a paywall at BJET but there's a (preprint?) copy at ResearchGate. [Comment]

Categorías: General

How Your Data is Stored, or, The Laws of the Imaginary Greeks

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 21:50

Yonatan Zunger, Hacker Noon, Medium, May 27, 2017

I could tell you that this article describes distributed data management as defined by  Leslie Lamport’s invention in  The Part-Time Parliament  (33 page PDF) known as the Paxos algorithm, and  the master election protocol called  Chubby. But it's better to say that this article is an accessible description of different ways people can keep their records up to date. The systems described form the basis not only of modern file management but also distributed blockchain  record keeping in systems like Ethereum. But even better, the article is illustrative of the  kind of thinking it takes to work through an intractable problem in a methodical way.
[Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 20:46

Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge, May 26, 2017

By 'all community colleges' David Wiley and Jeffrey R. Young no doubt mean 'all community colleges in the United States', because expecting a community college in, say, Namibia, to replace textbooks by 2024 is to expect the very very unlikely. But more, as insightful as Wiley is, I think he is hampered by a basic misunderstanding or misrepresentation of economics. "If it’s 25 percent cheaper to get your business degree here than it is to get it over there, you’re going to go over here," he says. But we know this isn't true: people don't select education based on price, and institutions certainly don't differentiate it by price, not even at community colleges. Perceived quality, location, reputation, networks and more all play a role. So, no, I'm not expecting Wiley's prediction to come true. Not by 2024.
[Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

The Story of Habitat, the Very First Large-Scale Online Role-Playing Game (1986)

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 19:56

Colin Marshall, Open Culture, May 26, 2017

Without diminishing the historical importance of Habitat., it should be noted that it was not the first  massively multiplayer online role-playing game  (MMORPG). That distinction belongs to the multi user dungeon (MUD). Descended from  Adventure (1975), the first MUD was created in 1978.Habitat was probably the first  graphical MUD (where 'graphical' is understood as 'using graphics rather than text to create images'). But what really makes it distinct is that it was the first  commercial MUD, created by Lucasfilm Games for the    Commodore 64s.  Read the Wikipedia page for more on Habitat. [Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

Higher Ed Security Org Uses DNS Database to Track Criminal Action

Campus Technology - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 19:30
An organization that provides security services to the research and education community at large has gone public with its adoption of an historic DNS database service.

THIS JUST IN: Moodle Mobile 3.3 Released

Moodle News - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 18:52
A robust, intuitive experience, smooth interaction with desktop, and increased offline functionality are some of the new elements the Moodle Mobile 3.3 apps now offer learning communities around the...

Time to Redo NSF Research Centers in "Grand Challenge" Model

Campus Technology - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 18:30
Approaches introduced by the X-Prize and Google's "grand challenges" have shown how "center-based" engineering research doesn't have to be the only way big problems get solved.

New MIT Lab Intends to Deliver Education Innovation to the World

Campus Technology - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 18:00
To expand its mission of delivering education worldwide, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has launched a research, policy, pedagogy and practice lab that intends to uncover new ways of delivering education to learners in developing countries. The new "J-WEL" lab will emphasize reaching underserved populations such as women and girls, and displaced persons.

IEEE P7006 - Standard for Personal Data Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agent

OLDaily - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 15:43

Ieee, May 26, 2017

Clearly this is an initiative that has multiple applications within the learning space. "This standard describes the technical elements required to create and grant access to a personalized Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will comprise inputs, learning, ethics, rules and values controlled by individuals." The kick-off meeting is June 14. See you there. [Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project Updates Moodle LAE, Moodle 3.3 Hackathon Upcoming

Moodle News - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 14:10
The Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project is announcing releases of a “Moodle Liberal Arts Edition” for each of the active Moodle versions: Moodle 3.2.3 (Moodle LAE 12.0.2) Moodle...

Barnes & Noble Education’s Predictive Analytics Deal With Unizin

e-Literate - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 03:21

By Phil HillMore Posts (477)

Barnes & Noble Education (BNED) announced today that they have a deal with Unizin to provide predictive analytics services through the LoudSight platform to the consortium’s member universities. As covered by Inside Higher Ed:

BNED, as the company now likes to be called, operates nearly 1,500 bookstores, but has in recent years expanded beyond course materials. In March 2016, it acquired the software start-up LoudCloud, and it is through that company that BNED now will score a group of 22 potential new clients (or, in the cases where it already runs campus bookstores, form tighter connections with existing ones) that includes Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University and the State University System of Florida, among others.

The deal represents a new product focus for BNED’s LoudCloud – predictive analytics – and a new financial model for Unizin.

As seen in the IHE comments, the news itself is not that clear, with a description of one pilot at Colorado State University using Canvas learning management system (LMS) data, followed by the potential of other schools adopting, and plans for adding student information system (SIS) data, and possibilities of adding learning content application data in the future. We should unpack the news a little.

BNED LoudSight focuses on predictive analytics of the sort provided by Civitas, EAB, and Purdue University’s Course Signals. The platform identifies at-risk students and provides information to advisors to provide proactive interventions before students fail a course. Currently it is closest to Course Signals as it relies on LMS data with the possibility of adding more systems in the future.

Put another way – BNED LoudSight is not the Analytics Relay engine for Unizin. Amin Qazi, CEO of Unizin, described further:

The agreement is for the BNED Loudsight platform. I am certain the platform will mature and change, so it’s difficult to say exactly what capabilities the product will provide in the future.

I asked BNED in an interview what their differentiators are in the predictive analytics market, and they described the partnership model. Specifically that LoudSight’s algorithms are not black box and hidden from the institution, and that the company even works to add in a school’s pre-existing models and data to augment the predictions. That is a significant difference.

A Canvas – LoudSight partnership was announced at last year’s InstructureCon users conference in July 2016. For the Unizin deal this means that the Canvas – Loudsight integration has worked “out of the box” and has been tested at Colorado State.

While I have heard offhand mentions of BNED marketing LoudSight, this deal with Unizin is the first one I can find with a public win and therefore signals BNED’s entry into the predictive analytics market.

This deal is a new financial model for Unizin. With the Canvas LMS, Unizin negotiated pricing and a contract, and each member institution that adopts Canvas licenses and pays for the LMS directly with Instructure. With the Engage content platform, Unizin acquired Courseload and now owns the platform, providing it free to member institutions. Based on my interviews with BNED and Unizin, the LoudSight platform is licensed to Unizin itself, and:

members only pay for professional services related to the implementation and local enhancements of BNED Loudsight.

Amin Qazi said they do not know if they will use this financial model in the future, but it was the one that made sense for predictive analytics.

While there is a Unizin license and BNED win, it is not clear yet how many Unizin schools will adopt LoudSight as described in the IHE article.

The deal with Unizin doesn’t automatically bring 22 new clients to LoudCloud. [BNED chief operating officer of digital] Malhotra said member universities will come on board over time, and that their use cases will likely differ. Colorado State University has already piloted the software, while others have “expressed a strong desire to get going,” he said. Each university has to foot the bill for the LoudCloud services it uses. [snip]

The progress, [Unizin COO] Littleworth said, depends on several factors. For one, Unizin’s members are “all at different paces and places” of setting up the systems on their campuses. Some, like Ohio State University, have just completed the migration to the Canvas learning management system, which serves as the consortium’s foundational platform. Others, like Indiana University, have already collected years’ worth of student engagement data.

To be fair, BNED representatives did not agree with my comments at IHE:

In an interview Wednesday, Hill said the deal with Unizin suggests LoudCloud is focusing more intently on analytics after years of being “here, there and everywhere” in the ed-tech market.

BNED chief operating officer of digital Kanuj Malhotra believes they have a cohesive strategy and made it clear that they are still going after CBE platform market, OER courseware market, and learning analytics. The markets differ in terms of readiness for real growth, and right now analytics has the strongest need, if I understood correctly.

On the LMS front, which was the origin of LoudCloud Systems:

  • LoudCloud continues to provide the LMS for Grand Canyon University (GCU) after its 2011/12 implementation, which is a real success story. GCU is the only large for-profit system that continues to grow, moving from 48,000 enrollment in 2012 to over 75,000 today.
  • However, according to data from our partner LISTedTECH, we have seen no new LMS implementations since BNED acquired LoudCloud Systems in March 2016. And on BNED’s web site for LoudCloud, they no longer list LMS as a solution.

While not quoted 100% accurately (I insist my phone interview included the oxford comma), I maintain my statement about seeing some level of focus on analytics after being “here, there, and everywhere”. In fact, I would argue that BNED could benefit from more focus. CBE platform, predictive analytics, and OER courseware are very different markets; it might help to pick one, get some real traction and customers, build, and then expand.

In the meantime, it will be worth watching over time to see how many Unizin schools adopt LoudSight, whether this leads to real student outcome improvements, and if BNED can follow-up with additional predictive analytics wins.

Related: Our coverage of the BNED acquisition of LoudCloud Systems last year.

The post Barnes & Noble Education’s Predictive Analytics Deal With Unizin appeared first on e-Literate.

Schoology LMS Adds Office 365 Integration

Campus Technology - 26 Mayo, 2017 - 01:30
Schoology added Microsoft Office 365 integration, allowing individuals to use Microsoft Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc. without leaving the learning management system.

Education that Matters

OLDaily - 25 Mayo, 2017 - 22:39

Joel Westheimer, Canadian Journal of Education, May 26, 2017

The Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) and the Canadian Journal of Education (CJE) have a bouncy new website, and even better, open access to their articles, including this one (15 page PDF). It's a statement-of-principles sort of article that speaks to progressive ideals and contemporary challenges. "education in Canada and elsewhere should always embrace certain goals unique to democratic societies... Students must be exposed to multiple perspectives and taught to think and to dialogue in the kinds of expansive ways on which democracy thrives." Quite so. Now - if only the site would get an RSS feed so I can learn about new articles when they're posted - oh! here it is - unadvertised and still under construction. [Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General

Privileging an ideology of individualism

OLDaily - 25 Mayo, 2017 - 22:23

Scott Mcleod, Dangerously Irrelevant, May 26, 2017

Scott Mcleod comments on Audrey Watter's post (see below) remark that "These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism," replying that "how we balance collective societal good versus individual learning and life success needs is incredibly challenging." It's obvious that it's challenging, of course, but also, the distinction between 'individual' and 'collective' is too simple to be useful. In the past I have offered the idea of the network as a half-way point - supporting autonomy, but creating means and mechanisms to function as a community. What other models are there? Where are the ideas? Educators and technologists have a responsibility here that goes beyond saying it's "incredibly challenging". [Link] [Comment]

Categorías: General