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Your Plugin Risks Deletion In Europe! Urgent GDPR Advice For Moodle Developers

Moodle News - Hace 4 horas 35 mins
While Moodle HQ prepares to make the core of the open source LMS compliant with the soon-to-be-enforced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Commission, little attention has been...

Report: Chemistry Programs Need to Increase Real-World Problem-Solving

Campus Technology - Hace 5 horas 36 mins
Science isn't immune to the education-work skills gap that employers complain about in other fields. A recent survey found that most people in the chemistry field consider current curricula inadequate for helping STEM students prepare for future careers. The survey was undertaken by Elsevier's Reaxys division, which produces a chemistry research platform. The survey queried 186 chemistry professionals, researchers, students and educators.

Upcoming Events, Webinars & Calls for Papers (Week of Feb. 19, 2018)

Campus Technology - Hace 6 horas 36 mins
Upcoming events include the Innovations Conference, Digital Signage Expo 2018, University Innovation Alliance National Summit, SANS 2018, O.L.C. Innovate and the A.A.C.C. 98th Annual Convention.

Hacking Digital Learning Strategies #Bookreview

Steve Wheeler - Hace 6 horas 58 mins
Photo by Steve WheelerWhen Shelly Terrell speaks or writes, people take notice. She has done the hard miles as an educator and has innovated along the way, continuing to share her knowledge and her ideas freely among the global education community. It is a delight to see her new book has been published, and it was a joy to receive a copy for review recently.

Hacking Digital Learning Strategies sounds quite a daunting title for a book of practical ideas, but with the cartoon spaceman on the cover, readers will know they are in for a fun ride with plenty of happiness along the way. Its also one in a series of 'Hacking' titles published by the Hack Learning Organisation. With phrases such as 'I don't have to do all the teaching or know all the answers' and 'we need to find ways to tap into students' passions', you just know that Shelly's book will be completely student centred from start to finish. And it is.

This book is not about technology. In 183 pages it focuses on teaching strategies that have a proven track record of success. It highlights the need to engage students in their thinking and the importance of scaffolding their behaviour as they learn. The book calls for better understanding of the affordances of technology, not as means to an end, but as catalysts that provoke, excite and motivate children to go the extra mile, as they learn about the world around them, and discover exactly how they might fit into it. 40 pages at the back of the book present 'mission tool kits' for teachers - lesson plan resources that any educator would find easy to adapt and apply in their classroom.

Shelly does not shy away from weighty issues such as motivation, creativity, honesty and truth, but meets them head on, offering teachers a useful practical guide about how to infuse these into every lesson. She is bent on achieving global action around the use of technologies in education. From citizen journalism to crowdfunded innovation projects, from producing videos to creating digital text books, this volume is replete with relevant, contemporary ideas that leverage the power and potential of technology to help children to learn. The end result, as Shelly expresses in her final section, is that children will 'innovate with technology to improve their communities around the world'.

Hacking Digital Learning Strategies #Bookreview 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

Tivo Creatiu

Educació Demà - Hace 7 horas 35 mins
Un conte interactiu per estimular les capacitats creatives i innovadores, dissenyat per a nens de 6 a 9 anys. Localització Espanya 41° 57' 33.9444" N, 2° 49' 22.1232" E See map: Google Maps

Online education and the professional associations: the case of law

Tony Bates - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 23:09

Image: Reality Sandwich, 2015

Lederman, D. (2018) The uncertain landscape for online legal education Inside Higher Education, January 24

The situation in the USA

This is a useful report about the current situation in the USA regarding the accreditation or otherwise of online courses in law. Does the American Bar Association (ABA) recognise qualifications where some or all the courses were taken online?

The answer is: maybe but in most cases so far, no.

In late 2013, the American Bar Association gave a private nonprofit law school in Minnesota permission to create a part-time Juris Doctor program that blended online courses heavily with face-to-face instruction. The Minnesota law school, now called Mitchell Hamline School of Law, just turned out its first two graduates this month.

A handful of law schools, including those at Seton Hall UniversityLoyola University Chicago and Touro University, have recently introduced part-time programs that allow students to take up to 15 credits online (out of a minimum of 83 credits), the maximum now allowed by the American Bar Association.

However, several other law schools have had their petitions for “variances”(as the ABA calls them) to allow some online learning rejected, including some quite prestigious law schools, including those at Syracuse University and Rutgers.

As the article states:

The mixed results about the fates of law schools seeking to expand their online footprints left some legal education observers uncertain about the prospects for online and other innovations in legal education. The ABA is expected to consider as soon as next month some loosening of its rules on online learning, but exactly how remains unclear.

What about Canada?

In Canada, the provinces have delegated accreditation to provincial Legal Societies, such as the Law Society of Ontario/Upper Canada (similar to other professions in Canada, such as engineering.)

To qualify for admission to the Lawyer Licensing Process, an applicant must typically have acquired credentials through one of the following options:

  • Graduates of an Accredited Law School (Common Law);
  • Graduates of International or Non-Accredited Canadian Law Schools who must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) to have their legal education credentials evaluated before they can enter the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyer Licensing Process;
  • Lawyers qualified in other provinces who meet the inter-provincial mobility standards.

Most of those applying for licensing in Canada will come as a result of graduating through an accredited Canadian law school. The Legal Society of Upper Canada provides a list of 20 accredited law schools. These are almost entirely within the provincial public university system, covering all provinces except Newfoundland and the territories.

I could find no statement on the Legal Society of Ontario site about courses taken at these schools through online learning. If anyone can provide me with such information, I would be grateful. However, in most Canadian public universities, online students take the same exams as classroom-based students, and as a result degree transcripts rarely indicate the mode of study.

So are there online courses in law programs in Canada?

According to the recent national survey of online and distance learning in Canadian post-secondary education (2017), just under 20% of responding institutions (or at least 10) offered some credit courses online in law. This was more than in forestry, dentistry or medicine, but somewhat surprisingly, less than in engineering, a profession that so far has refused to accept any ‘distance’ qualifications. eCampusOntario lists at least 13 online courses in law from accredited law schools in Ontario.

A couple of Canadian universities offered a whole online program in law, but not necessarily a full degree. For instance Ryerson University offers the Law Practice Program.  The program, approved conditionally by the Law Society of Upper Canada, adopts a hybrid approach, with a four month practical training period consisting of 14 weeks online and three separate weeks on campus. During these seventeen weeks, candidates work on simulated files developed by practising lawyers. This training is then followed by a four month work placement, where participants work on actual files. However, you already need a degree in law before taking this program.

Similarly once you have a degree, as part of the licensing process in Ontario, during an Articling placement, the candidate is expected to study the online Professional Responsibility and Practice Course (PRP). Therefore it appears that the largest law accreditation agency in Canada is not opposed in principle to online courses. If there is a reluctance to move to online courses or programs in law in Canada, it is more likely to come from the law schools themselves.

So my belief – and it is no more than this – is that currently there are some courses available online in law in Canadian universities, and some hybrid programs with a substantial online component, but no fully online degree yet accredited by a Canadian law society. 

However, I would really like to hear from those of you working in law: what if any are the requirements or limitations in studying law online in Canada?

School Shootings: No More Thoughts and Prayers

OLDaily - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 21:53

Ronnie Burt, The Edublogger, Feb 17, 2018

I endorse this message: "Please, no more thoughts and prayers. It is time for action on how we can stop a 19-year-old, who had been suspended from school for bringing a gun, from walking into a store and purchasing a military-style assault weapon. We must work to elect those to office that will make this happen. For decades we’ve done nothing while our kids are dying. We are ready for real change and real action."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Anger at Google image search 'peace deal'

OLDaily - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 21:13

BBC News, Feb 17, 2018

The essence of the deal Google struck with Getty Images is that it has removed the 'view image' button from its image search application. Now I personally don't know why you would search for images unless you wanted to view them. But more to the point, it seems wrong to me that one company with a few million commercial images would dictate the terms of access to an entire web full of billions of all sorts of images (including my openly licensed images that I want people to be able to view). "This is a terrible idea... you find an image on Google Images only for the image to be nowhere in sight," said one user on Twitter. "Talk about destroying your own successful service."  Google also removed the "search by image" button, which ironically is the best way for people to discover whether their images have been used by someone else. More: Ars Technica, Boing Boing, ZD Net. Update: there's a Chrome extension to put the 'view' button back. I checked and there's also a Firefox extension that does the same.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Watch Martin Dougiamas Empower Educators. MoodleMoot India 2018

Moodle News - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 19:50
The first in a recently published batch of videos from the first Moodle event in the largest higher ed market on earth features Martin Dougiamas, creator of the LMS and CEO of Moodle HQ. It touches...

Universities and the “democracy of the gullible”

OLDaily - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 16:19

Jean Winand, UNESCO Courier, Feb 16, 2018

This is a good article and a weak article at the same time. It's a good article in the sense that it raises a significant issue and discusses it clearly and precisely. But it's a weak article in that it overstates the problem (it's simply not true that "no one thinks of criticizing the technical elite") and offers an overly broad resolution, taking a classic 'defense of the humanities' position. I don't, for example, debate the need for "research on Kant [Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German philosopher] medieval philosophy or phenomenology." But I would certainly debate the manner in which it is currently conducted. Philosophy and the humanities have such an important role to play in the day-top-day lives of people, and yet their practitioners retrench behind academic walls, subscription barriers, and programs available only to the elite of society. No wonder governments question their continued funding. More from the current issue of Courier, which is dedicated to the question of why education is still searching for utopia.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Personalized Learning: What It Really Is and Why It Really Matters

e-Literate - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 16:00

The following is a re-post from a 2016 EDUCAUSE Review article of ours with minor updates.

Let's be honest: as an academic term of art, personalized learning is horrible. It has almost no descriptive value. What does it mean to "personalize" learning? Isn't learning, which is done by individual learners, inherently personal? What would it mean to personalize learning? And who would want unpersonalized learning? Because the term carries so little semantic weight, it is a natural for marketing purposes: "Our personalized learning is new, improved, and 99.44% pure!" Unfortunately, this also sets it up perfectly for the inevitable War of Definitions. Remember the Great MOOC War a few years ago? Were MOOCs the creation of the Canadian Constructivists or of the Stanford professor who invented a self-driving car? Are we talking about an xMOOC or a cMOOC? Which one is the good one, and which one is the bad one? Now that the furor has died down, there is relatively little debating over the definition of the term MOOC and much more focus on how the family of approaches that are collected under that term can best serve different educational purposes.

Let's just skip to the end this time, shall we?

The two of us spent the past three years visiting colleges and universities that have undertaken so-called personalized learning projects, and we talked to the students, teachers, and administrators about what they are actually doing and why they are doing it. We visited a wide range of institutions and talked to a wide range of stakeholders, based on our daily work as consultants to colleges and universities and as analysts of the educational technology industry and our work on a grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through these observations, we have been looking for the ground truth underneath the hype of personalized learning. As a result of this process, we observed a family of technology-enabled educational practices that are potentially useful for a range of educational challenges. We would like to share our framework, which we hope will be useful for thinking about (1) the circumstances under which personalized learning can help students and (2) the best way to evaluate the real educational value for products that are marketed under the personalized learning banner.

Personalized Learning as Practice

Imagine for a moment that personalized learning is not already a term in the ed tech lexicon and, further, that there is no need for any new term to be "catchy" or "sticky." The most descriptive label we could come up with for the practices that the two of us have observed in our school visits might be undepersonalized teaching. If the ideal, most personal teaching modality is one-to-one tutoring, there are many reasons why we fall short of this ideal in real-world classrooms. The most stereotypical depersonalized teaching experience is the large lecture class, but there are many other situations in which teachers do not connect with individual students and/or meet the students' specific needs. For example, even a small class might contain students with a wide-enough range of skills, aptitudes, and needs that the teacher cannot possibly serve them all equally well. Or a student may have needs (or aptitudes) that the teacher simply doesn't get an opportunity to see within the amount of contact time that the class allows. The truth is that students fall through the cracks all the time, even in the best classes taught by the best teachers. Failing a course is the most visible evidence, but more often students drift through the class and earn a passing grade—maybe even a good grade—without getting any lasting educational benefit.

If we choose to think of personalized learning as a practice rather than a product, we can start by taking a hard look at course designs and identifying those areas that fail to make meaningful individual contact with students. These gaps will be different from course to course, subject to subject, student population to student population, and teacher to teacher. Although there is no generic answer to the question of where students are most likely to fall through the cracks in a course, there are some patterns to look for (as we will discuss later in this article).

Technology then becomes an enabler for increasing meaningful personal contact. In our observations, we have seen three main technology-enabled strategies for lowering classroom barriers to one-on-one teacher/student (and student/student) interactions:

  1. Moving content broadcast out of the classroom: Even in relatively small classes, a lot of class time can be taken up with content broadcast such as lectures and announcements. Personalized learning strategies often try to move as much broadcast out of class time as possible in order to make room for more conversation. This strategy is sometimes called "flipping" because it is commonly accomplished by having the teacher record the lectures they would normally give in class and assign the lecture videos as homework, but it can be accomplished in other ways as well, for example with reading-based or problem-based course designs.
  2. Turning homework time into contact time: In a traditional class, much of the work that the students do is invisible to the teacher. For some aspects, such as homework problems, teachers can observe the results but are often severely limited by time constraints. In other cases, such as comprehension of assigned readings, the students' work is invisible to the teacher and can be observed only indirectly and with significant effort. Personalized learning approaches often allow the teacher to observe the students' work in digital products, so that there is more opportunity to coach students. Further, personalized learning often identifies meaningful trends in a student's work and calls the attention of both teacher and student to those trends through analytics.
  3. Providing tutoring: Sometimes students get stuck in problem areas that don't require help from a skilled human instructor. Although software isn't good at teaching everything, it can be good at teaching some things. Personalized learning approaches can offload the tutoring for those topics to adaptive learning software that gives students interactive feedback while also turning the students' work into contact time by making it observable to the teacher at a glance through analytics.

None of these techniques, by themselves, undepersonalize the teaching. They generally need to be designed and implemented by skilled educators as part of a larger course design that is intended to address the particular problems of particular students. In the business world, an analogous initiative might be called "business process redesign." Emphasis is on process. The primary question being asked is, "What is the most effective way to accomplish the goal?" The redesigned process may well need software, but it is the process itself that matters. In personalized learning, the process we are redesigning is that of teaching individual students what they need to learn from a class as effectively as possible (though we can easily imagine applying the same kind of exercise to improving advising, course registration, or any other important function).

We saw a noteworthy example of this educational design work in action at Essex County College (ECC) in Newark, New Jersey. The majority of ECC students need to take developmental math in order to complete their degrees, and the majority of those do not pass developmental math. Of those who do, the majority do not pass the college-level math course that follows. ECC leadership believed that this educational failure could be attributed to two main factors. First, students came into developmental math with an enormous range of prior knowledge: some had the equivalent of a fourth-grade math education; others needed to learn only a few concepts. Students on one end of the spectrum typically got lost because they were not receiving the individual help they needed, whereas those on the other end often got bored and eventually failed or dropped out because they were being forced to spend a lot of their time on skills that they had already mastered. Second, many ECC students had never been taught good study skills, and faculty did not have the class time needed to teach those skills. So to address the two personalization gaps in this particular course, the college redesigned developmental math using personalized learning techniques.


ECC used an overall pedagogical framework called Self-Regulated Learning. Students in the course spend part of their class time in a computer lab, working at their own pace through an adaptive learning math program. Students who already know much of the content can move through it quickly, giving them more time to master the concepts that they have yet to learn. Students who have more to learn can take their time and get tutoring and reinforcement from the software. Teachers, now freed from the task of lecturing, roam the room and give individual attention to those students who need it. They can also see how students are doing, individually and as a class, through the software's analytics. But the course has another critical component that takes place outside the computer lab, separate from the technology. Every week, the teachers meet with the students to discuss learning goals and strategies. Students review the goals they set the previous week, discuss their progress toward those goals, evaluate whether the strategies they used helped them, and develop new goals for the next week.

Note the role of the software in this design. In the lab, it primarily takes on the role of tutor, helping most of the students most of the time with routine skill coaching and practice so that the teacher is freed up to give individual attention to those students who really need it. In the goal-setting sessions, the software acts mainly as a record keeper. It helps students track their time on task, number of problems solved, and so on. The teacher then helps students figure out what to do with that information. In both cases, the software is an important enabler of the new teaching practices. But the value that it adds is quite different from the way personalized learning software products are often characterized by sales reps, marketing materials, and many news stories. It is thus worth taking a minor detour from our exploration of personalized learning as a practice to examine the significant gap between the ground truth of the practice and the popular characterizations of the products.

Why Such Hype?

So far, we have deliberately and explicitly set aside the various policy, political, and business pressures that have brought the term personalized learning into broader use so that we could focus on the educational value that lurks underneath the hype. But it is also important to understand these pressures so that we can be on guard for the ways in which they might deform the discussion and distract us from the real value that we should be talking about. None of the three approaches that we identified above are particularly new; nor do they require fancy algorithms and expensive products to achieve. There are two specific reasons why these approaches are being attached to heavily marketed products right now.

First, on the policy side, there has been a shift in emphasis from access to degree completion. President Barack Obama set the tone by announcing a goal that the United States be number one in the world in the proportion of college graduates by 2020. Since then, state and federal policy makers have followed suit. Colleges and universities now have to account for gainful employment metrics and track their institutional scorecard results. Base funding, particularly for public institutions, is increasingly tied to performance against these and similar metrics. Grant funding is also increasingly outcomes-driven. As higher education institutions have narrowed their focus on these metrics, the students who fall through the cracks and fail out of the standard educational model have come into sharper relief.

With these policy changes and the funding that follows them, being "student-centric" is no longer a nice-to-have goal. Rather, it is a critical success factor for improving measurable student outcomes and therefore getting funding and being seen as a successful institution. For example, whereas in the past a few forward-thinking community college administrators might have thought to take on a project like ECC's personalized learning developmental math redesign out of a sense of mission, now every community college administrator must be looking for ways to improve degree completion by eliminating failure traps such as developmental math. The security of institutional funding depends on it.

The second big change has been the widespread commercialization of the adaptive learning techniques that have existed in educational research laboratories for over fifty years. As the term adaptive learning suggests, these products provide students with a certain amount of one-on-one tutoring (although the methods that these systems use for analyzing students' progress and providing useful feedback vary widely by product and discipline). This change in the market has been enabled by technological advances that are increasingly resulting in one networked computer for every student in a class and affordable developer access to machine learning tools.

Market forces are playing a big role in publishing too. Textbook publishers have found that their traditional business model is collapsing as more students find ways to avoid buying new textbooks. Cengage, for example, was forced to go through bankruptcy. McGraw-Hill Education was sold to a private equity firm. Pearson's stock is near historic lows. All of these companies have had multiple rounds of major layoffs. They are in desperate need of a new product, and they are increasingly latching onto the personalized learning trend as the cure for what ails them. Meanwhile, according to Ambient Insight, U.S. ed tech companies received $3.6 billion of angel and venture capital funding in 2015. (This doesn't even include mergers and acquisitions, which have also been huge.) Startup founders find themselves in an increasingly crowded field and are under strong pressure to promise and produce big results. Every vendor of a developmental math product, whether that vendor is an established textbook publisher or a young startup, is aware that campus presidents and provosts need to solve their degree-completion problem and that developmental math is very likely to be a big part of that problem. The vendors therefore market their products as a solution to degree completion. Every textbook vendor and aspiring textbook disruptor knows that stories about improving pass rates through technology sell. But what to call these products? Personalized learning is a term that sounds good without the inconvenience of having any obviously specific pedagogical meaning, so it becomes the flag that all vendors fly, even though different products do very different things and even though undepersonalization is rarely accomplished through software alone.

Thus, through policy and commercialization, the personalized learning marketing juggernaut was born. Unfortunately, the combination of the marketing shortcuts and the funding pressures created a strong temptation for magical thinking. Campus leaders are being asked to believe that they can solve their degree-completion and other accountability metric problems by buying software that will somehow magically provide personalized learning (in a way that faculty members, by implication, do not). For obvious reasons, faculty are likely to reject this stunted conception of personalized learning. Leaders who want to see their campus communities benefit from personalized learning approaches need to guard against product-centric characterizations and should suggest that discussions of vended solutions take place in the context of course and curricular designs that undepersonalize teaching. Otherwise, the baby will probably get thrown out with the bathwater.

Good Candidate Opportunities

One of the benefits of reframing personalized learning as undepersonalized teaching and focusing on the three techniques we outlined earlier is that faculty can readily translate this framework into their own contexts and start identifying opportunities that are good candidates for undepersonalization (not all of which will require vended products). In contrast to a product-centric conception of personalized learning, a practice-centered conception is something that faculty can own. That said, we have seen areas of opportunity where personalized learning is often a good fit, and not all of those areas are always obvious.

To begin with, any course that students enter with a wide range of prior knowledge and ability is a good candidate. ECC's developmental math is a prototypical example. Another example is Austin Community College's ACCelerator lab, used heavily for developmental math courses. But the course doesn't have to be remedial and the institution doesn't have to be access-oriented in order for personalized learning to be helpful. For example, at Middlebury College, a geography professor realized that some students in his course on geographical information systems (GIS) were struggling. For context, this is a general education course that is taken by students in a wide range of majors and specialties. In an elite college like Middlebury, nobody worries too much about completion rates, particularly at the institutional level. The professor simply observed that some students were working very hard. In fact, the course had such a strong reputation for difficulty that taking and passing it was considered a badge of honor. Students were sleeping in the labs. But the professor didn't see this as a sign that he was inspiring his students to work hard. He saw it, rather, as a course-design problem. Some students were working harder than they should because he wasn't reaching them in the way that they needed to be reached.

As it turns out, one critical skill that the course was teaching—spatial reasoning—is rarely taught in high school. A handful of the students in the class came in with either prior training or natural talent. They did well. The others were the ones who were sleeping in the labs. They needed more time and more help. The professor decided to make videos of his lectures and assign the videos as homework. With this change, struggling students could watch the videos as often as they needed in the (relative) comfort of their own dorm rooms while the professor's class time was also freed up for more interactive work. (After he had done this, a colleague told the professor that this technique is called "flipping the classroom"—a term he had never heard before.) He is also thinking about developing tutorial software that can help students work through the homework problems in ways that best suit their needs.


Another obvious opportunity to undepersonalize teaching is in large lecture courses. For example, administrators at the University of California, Davis, became interested in redesigning their survey biology and chemistry courses because they recognized that they were losing a high percentage of first-year students—the ones who typically take these large lecture courses. It is very easy for a student to become passive in this broadcast-heavy course design. The team involved in the course-redesign projects wanted students to both get more individual attention and take more individual responsibility for their learning. To accomplish these goals, the team employed personalized learning practices as a way of making room for more active learning in the classroom. Students used software-based homework to experience much of the content that had previously been delivered in lectures. Faculty redesigned their lecture periods to become interactive discussions. Meanwhile, the teaching assistants who ran the discussion sections used analytics from the homework software to identify the areas where students were struggling; as a result, they could better focus their class time on those areas. Importantly, teaching assistants received additional training in how to employ active learning principles in their teaching techniques. Once again, in contrast to marketing pitches and popular narratives, the software played only a supporting role, albeit an important one, in undepersonalizing the large lecture.


A less obvious opportunity for personalized learning is in the design of problem-based learning courses. The previous two examples fit within the common understanding of personalized learning being used to help students work through traditional, didactic courses with more support. But Arizona State University incorporated the "flipping" aspect of the technology into an online STEM lab course for non–science majors. In this course students, for their final project, are asked to evaluate the likelihood that there are other intelligent civilizations in a randomly assigned field of stars. The teaching philosophy of the faculty member who was the lead designer of the course is that he should be a coach or a guide, helping students navigate difficult problems. In his view, both content delivery and assessment are activities that take time away from that core function. He and his colleagues framed the course, Habitable Worlds, as a series of challenges. Overcoming each challenge requires the students to learn new knowledge and skills. The course design is based on mastery learning: students must demonstrate that they have learned one skill before moving on to the next. The course is also difficult. Students often get stuck, which is by design. Faculty and teaching assistants, freed up from both content delivery and assignment grading, spend most of their time responding to students' questions. And because the coursework is all software-based, they can see exactly what students are doing, how far students have progressed, and where students are struggling. Students can proceed at their own pace, moving quickly where they can and getting help where they need it. Yet despite the self-paced nature of the course, there is also a strong social component. Students can and often do seek out each other's help. Because personalized learning practices make space for more interactivity, these practices often go hand-in-hand with active learning. And active learning is often social.


We suspect there are many opportunities in addition to the ones we have identified here. If faculty are given a commonsense framework and a chance to experiment, refine, and share, they will find novel and exciting ways to better support their students' individual educational needs.

Doing It Right

Because personalized learning is a family of educational practices that support good course designs, implementing those practices well is not as simple as buying a product. To begin with, course design is always a time-consuming process when done correctly. Second, in many cases faculty will be trying techniques they have not used before, requiring them to teach in ways that are very different from how they have taught before, that are far removed from their experience (and therefore instincts) of what works and what doesn't, and that may have ripple effects they don't anticipate. On top of all this, the vast majority of faculty are neither trained in course design/research nor compensated for any time they invest in it. They will need time and support. In many cases, implementing personalized learning well can require an institutional effort analogous to the one required to implement an online learning program well.

Looking across a range of personalized learning projects that have had varying degrees of success, both at the schools we visited and elsewhere, we can identify six steps for a successful strategy. It should be noted that these themes could be applied to any number of pedagogical innovations.

  1. Identify the student need that is to be addressed. The various personalized learning approaches are just one set of tools in the toolbox. Successful programs generally start by identifying a significant educational problem that faculty and program staff believe can be corrected with a change in course design.
  2. Design the pedagogical structure. If the problem that is identified can be addressed through personalization, then how will the course support different students differently? The answer has to be more than just "adaptive learning." Successful programs identify opportunities in the course design to improve individual support for students.
  3. Pick the products or technologies. The details of different products or technological approaches are most meaningful when they impact what can be done with the course design. Successful programs pick the right tool based on the job at hand rather than on who has the best marketing pitch.
  4. Don't forget faculty training. Because personalized learning, done properly, generally means implementing new pedagogical approaches, faculty may need to learn to teach in ways that they haven't taught before. Successful programs provide faculty with training and pedagogical support.
  5. Don't forget technology support. Software helps with learning only when it works, and Murphy's Law can hit with a vengeance when technology is mixed with teaching. Successful programs make sure that faculty have the technology training, equipment, and support staff that they need in order to be successful.
  6. Be prepared to measure, fail, and iterate. Because personalized learning approaches often require new software, new teaching techniques for faculty, new responsibilities for students, and in some cases new scheduling challenges, institutions will almost inevitably get some things wrong in the first couple of iterations, and those mistakes may have real impact on outcomes. Successful programs approach implementation empirically but with patience.

On the bright side, the fact that personalized learning is now being attached to funding-related metrics such as degree-completion rates means that attaching institutional support costs to a funding stream will also be easier. In many cases, schools can build personalized learning "muscle mass" by focusing on metric-relevant projects first and then expanding the initiative once the critical institutional knowledge and support mechanisms have been put in place.

Final Thoughts: Ed Tech Groundhog Day

There is a lesson to be learned here, and it is broader than personalized learning. Every popular ed tech trend, going at least as far back as the original online asynchronous distance learning courses in the 1990s, has brought with it a food fight, with proponents hyping the trend as revolutionary and opponents attacking it as harmful. And in every case, a policy or other institutional driver has resulted in a rush of companies responding to the market opportunity created by that driver. Together, these forces generate hype and magical thinking, which in turn provoke an equal and opposite reaction.

In this article, we have tried to identify specific teaching practices being used by educators, and we have tried to describe them in commonsense terms that should make intuitive sense to experienced teachers. These practices always exist at the beginning. Some teacher somewhere comes up with a specific approach to a specific problem. External forces then make that problem a more institutionally consequential one, and companies rush in to name, market, and sell solutions. In the process, we lose track of the original educational idea. It's like playing a game of telephone in a noisy airport. Except in this case, the message in the game is an actual plan for how we are going to help our students, and when it gets to the end of the telephone line, we will act as if we received the message with perfect fidelity. And then fight over it. Endlessly. Much of the Gartner hype cycle can be attributed to this process.

We can break out of this hype cycle with a fairly simple (though not necessarily easy) approach. Whenever a new ed tech trend gets named—whether it is distance learning, adaptive learning, personalized learning, competency-based education, MOOCs, or something else—we should start trying to understand that trend by looking for the best examples of what teachers and students are doing when they are doing the thing we just named. We should ask them what they are doing, and why. We should ask how their practice is working and what they are learning and what they don't yet know. We should attach the name of the new trend to those educational practices and those reasons—rather than to any products, technologies, or services. We should not waste time debating whether the name we came up with for those practices is the perfect name or exactly what it includes or excludes. Instead, we should spend our time trying to understand the practices themselves and their applicability to the educational problems we are trying to solve.

Yes, personalized learning is a lousy term, but it is attached to legitimate educational practices that have the potential to improve the lives of many students. It is also a term that is trapped in the early stages of its hype cycle. So let's just skip to the end and break personalized learning out of the hype cycle by doing our best to understand—and explain—what it really is and why it really matters.

The post Personalized Learning: What It Really Is and Why It Really Matters appeared first on e-Literate.

Happy birthday, Graham Attwell

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 15:33

Today the fellow-bloggers on Pontydysgu site can congratulate Graham Attwell on his birthday. I hope there is no home-made rule that would prevent us from celebrating this day via his own website.  Cheers, Graham!

Years and more …

Moodle 2032: 15 Years In Hard Truths And Pending Homework

Moodle News - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 13:48
Not everything in Moodle’s raucous 15-year history has been smooth sailing. For the fifth question in MoodleNews Founder Joe Thibault’s “Moodle 2032” survey, Moodlers were invited to acknowledge the...


OLDaily - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 13:27

GitHub, Feb 17, 2018

This is a "JSON-like data structure that can be modified concurrently by different users, and merged again automatically." So how might that be useful? Here's one case: imagine a cMOOC has been developed and released, with all its contents defined in a JSON file (so it can be harvested automatically by personal learning environments). As people use the course, they begin to alter its structure and add resources. This data structure would make that possible. Would it work? No idea.

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IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Caliper Analytics v1.1

OLDaily - 16 Febrero, 2018 - 12:48

Press Release, IMS Global, Feb 16, 2018

The Caliper specification "was initially released in 2015, to enable the collection of valuable learning and tool usage data from digital resources, which can be used for predictive analytics." This is an update. It provides "guided language for describing, collecting, and exchanging learning data across learning technologies, and promotes better data interoperability through a shared vocabulary for describing learning interactions."

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I Wrote Down Everything I Learned While Programming for a Month

OLDaily - 15 Febrero, 2018 - 21:14

Sung Won Cho, Dnote, Feb 16, 2018

What if you wrote down what you learned every time you learned something. It would be a bit like taking classroom notes, but in real life. When I joined NRC people used to use scientific notebooks where they would capture everything. I use this newsletter for the same purpose, partially (but I don't capture all kinds of knowledge, like how to parse OPML files, for example). For me, being able to find the note again was important. But sometimes just the taking of the note can be enough of an intentional act. Anyhow, Sung Won Cho tried this (using Dnote) and found it " allowed me to see through the fuzzy meaning of learning and clearly quantify just how much I was learning... I was not learning as much as I had thought, but also because we seemed to misunderstand the ways of learning."

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Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Preprint Badges!

OLDaily - 15 Febrero, 2018 - 21:03

Phil Davis, The Scholarly Kitchen, Feb 16, 2018

To date when people have talked about badges they've talked about badges as something people earn. But what about artifacts, like academic articles? It makes sense. Badges would function a bit like awards (the way films are labled with the 'Palm d'Or badge') or a bit like certification (as in the Good Housekeeping 'Seal of Approval'). It makes me think that all along I should have been awarding 'Posted in OLDaily' badges rewarding articles and resources worthy of mention. It's like how I once won the 'Cool Site of the Day' badge. But for professionals and academics. The 'Published by Nature' badge would be worth getting, and Nature could make it work by doing only peer review; leave the bother of publishing and distribution to others. Of course the opinion of the pro-publisher Scholarly Kitchen blog is that preprint services issuing badges are "outlaws" For example, "By incorporating post-publication validation badges into preprints, bioRxiv begins to transform itself into the largest open access megajournal the world has ever seen."

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Facebook spamming users via their 2FA phone numbers

OLDaily - 15 Febrero, 2018 - 20:39

Jack Morse, Mashable, Feb 16, 2018

This article is a bit off in that its original title appears and then is obscured by the newer title. The original title? "Facebook is so desperate for engagement, it's spamming users via their 2FA numbers." I like it better than the original. '2FA' stands for 'Two Factor Authentication' and here refers to the practice of having people enter their phone numbers so they can verify logins via text messages. Now Facebook is sending marketing through these numbers. It also appears to have struck a deal with Microsoft to have its application automatically installed on Windows 10 machines, hence marketing themselves through the desktop as well (I use Windows 10 but can't report having seen these). These are annoying, to be sure, but also the inevitable result of a business plan based on massive numbers of eyeballs. And as I read recently, "The older generation is afraid of social media doing to their children what television did to them."

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Consensus Algorithms

OLDaily - 15 Febrero, 2018 - 20:29

Zane Witherspoon, Hacker Noon, Feb 16, 2018

A 'consensus algorithm' is a mechanism for verifying transactions in a distributed network. A transaction doesn't take place until everyone (or a large enough subset of everyone) agrees that it can take place (ie., it isn't contradicted by some previous transaction). But how do you get to have a say in these consensus networks? That's what the algorithms decide. The first is 'proof of work', such as solving equations to 'mine' bitcoins. Another is 'proof of stake' in which you 'bet' on the validity of transactions. A third is 'delegated' proof of stake, in which you elect a subset of you to become validators. Related is 'proof of authority', where transactions are validated by approved accounts. The 'proof of weight' algorithms award authority to the largest entities. Then the algorithms get messy: there's Byzantine Fault tolerance, spaghetti algorithms, and more.

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Change on the Horizon

Campus Technology - 15 Febrero, 2018 - 20:21
Educause's purchase of the New Media Consortium's assets gives a new home to the Horizon Report — and hopefully new life to the community behind the report's forecasts.