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Replacement Versus Transformation: Tips for Taking a Printed Work Digital

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 20:35
Jonathan Blake Huer, director of emerging technologies and media development at Ball State University, shares his checklist that faculty can use to help them transition their work from print to digital.

Forgetting Our History: From the Reusability Paradox to the Remix Hypothesis

iterating toward openness - 15 Abril, 2015 - 20:21

Wow, there’s been some great writing lately. I’ve been particularly reinvigorated by Brian Lamb, Mike Caulfield, and Bracken Mosbacker. And Audrey Watters’ ongoing work on the history of educational technology is vastly more important than anyone seems to realize. It should be absolutely mandatory reading for every student in a graduate program on educational technology or learning sciences, period.

Audrey’s constant refrain that “no one seems to remember our history” was made for her again this week when McGraw-Hill and Microsoft announced a new project based around – I kid you not – learning objects. Reading this news created in me an irresistible urge to join Audrey in reminding the field of its not-at-all-distant and yet already-forgotten history regarding the Reusability Paradox.

Learning objects are meant to be aggregated into a wide range of larger instructional structures. Over a decade ago I worked through the problems implied by this statement in excruciating detail. The tl;dr is that any learning object needs to fit into the aggregation in which you want to reuse it. The degree of fit is purely a function of two contexts: (1) the internal context of a specific learning object and (2) the external context created by the juxtaposition of the other learning objects in the aggregation. Unfortunately, it turns out that the amount of internal context of any learning object is directly correlated with its educational efficacy, while that same amount of internal context is inversely correlated with the number of aggregations the learning object “fits” into. This is the famous Reusability Paradox – the pedagogical effectiveness of a learning object and its potential for reuse are completely at odds with one another. (While the Reusability Paradox was singlehandedly sufficient to quash the realization of the learning objects ambition – I spent over five years of my life on this stuff – there are also numerous other flaws underlying the model as it is traditionally conceived. See sections 2 and 3 in that link, but be warned – it contains Vygotsky, Leontiev, Wertsch, Friere, and M. Night Shyamalan references.)

The Reusability Paradox typically leads designers of learning objects to attempt to “strike a balance” between effectiveness and reusability. This generally results in materials that are neither particularly effective NOR particularly reusable across contexts. No one wants to trade efficacy for reusability (or for lower cost, or for anything else – as the recent Babson survey showed, faculty want proven efficacy more than anything else). And yet we do this all the time without really realizing it. Instead of targeting a specific audience and a specific context, almost all teaching materials adopt their own version of Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View. Educational materials – and learning objects specifically – try to be just generic enough so as to not be offensive to anyone. They lack what Giant Robot Dinosaur calls a Minimum Viable Personality.

For example, take teaching materials about the Ruby programming language. Here are the first three results that come up for me after searching for Ruby tutorials – Ruby in 20 Minutes, My First Ruby Program, and Ruby Quick Reference Guide. They’re each so bland and generic as to be almost indistinguishable from each other. Contrast these resources with Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby. You can actually distinguish this resource from the others. It was obviously written with a specific audience in mind – and they love it. But the internal context created in Why’s Poignant Guide – the cartoon foxes, Blix the cat, etc. – are SIMULTANEOUSLY what makes it awesome for a specific audience and what prevents it from being reused more broadly.

So what are we to do? We have three choices – we can either (1) create highly decontextualized resources that can be reused broadly but teach very little, (2) we can build highly contextualized resources that teach effectively in a single setting but are very difficult to reuse elsewhere, or (3) we can shoot for the mediocre middle.

There’s actually a fourth choice. The Reusability Paradox is only a paradox as long as your thinking about educational materials is caught in the ambient copyright trap. “Everyone knows” you’re not allowed to make changes to textbooks, learning objects, videos, and other educational media, and so the learning objects model is built partly in response to that “reality.” But the Reusability Paradox only arises when “reuse” means “reuse exactly as is.” According to this pervasive view, learning objects can never be altered after they’re created – so the author has to make a trade-off between effectiveness and reusability and the rest of us have to live their choice.

The way to escape from the Reusability Paradox is simply by using an open license. If I publish my educational materials using an open license, I can produce something deeply contextualized and highly effective for my local context AND give you permission to revise and remix it until it is equally effective to reuse in your own local context. Poof! The paradox disappears. I’ve produced something with a strong internal context which you have permission to make fit into other external contexts.

This brings us full circle back to the Remix Hypothesis. Learning objects that are published using open licenses – also known as open educational resources – eliminate the Reusability Paradox. However, making something possible is not the same as actually doing it. OER make it possible for us to contextualize our resources and customize our pedagogies to support more effective learning, but they don’t do the work for us. We have to take advantage of the 5R permissions and actually do the work of contextualizing and customizing our open educational resources and open pedagogies. Thus, the Remix Hypothesis states that changes in student outcomes that occur in conjunction with OER adoption will correlate positively with faculty revising and remixing activities.

Which brings me back to the announcement of the McGraw Hill – Microsoft partnership. The press release reads, in part:

A key component of McGraw-Hill Education’s relationship with Microsoft is the ability of educators to develop compound learning objects through Office Mix, a media-rich extension of Microsoft PowerPoint that is free to the education community, and combine them with McGraw-Hill Education content and technology…. Compound learning objects will serve as the basis for all of [McGraw-Hill]’s K-12 products going forward starting next year, with its higher education portfolio soon to follow.

From these and other statements in the release, it sounds like a core goal of the partnership is to get teachers to make their own learning objects in Powerpoint and then upload them into McGraw-Hill’s platform, to be used side-by-side with MH’s own learning object-ized content. This is an “adaptive and analytics” platform, consistent with MH’s goal of “becoming the world’s foremost learning science company.” At the end of the day, this is a technical partnership that focuses on platform – Microsoft’s Office Mix platform and McGraw-Hill’s (unnamed in the release) adaptive and analytics platform.

This emphasis on platform belies a belief that innovations in platform can solve the problems that have beset earlier learning objects initiatives. For 15 years now organization after organization has made the mistake of thinking that the reason past learning objects initiatives have failed is that the platforms supporting revise / remix were too hard for faculty to use (or were broken in some other way). How many times have we heard someone exclaim, “Our breakthrough platform will finally make it possible!”? While ease of use of platform will certainly have a role to play in making a learning objects initiative successful, the platform issue is not the fundamental issue that must be resolved – it is a secondary issue. The Reusability Paradox is the primary issue to overcome, and this can only be done by means of the 5R permissions granted by open licenses. If the Reusability Paradox is not resolved there’s very little need for a platform – no one wants to reuse decontextualized resources that don’t teach effectively, it’s very difficult to reuse highly contextualized resources that do, and there’s no real difference between all the content that shoots for the middle (so there’s no point substituting one learning object for another).

Oh how I wish the field could remember that.

Engaging Students with Active Learning

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 19:31
According to Perry Samson, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at University of Michigan, if your goal is to improve student outcomes, employ active learning techniques.

Internet of Things Data To Top 1.6 Zettabytes by 2020

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 18:40
The volume of data captured by the Internet of Things (IoT) will exceed 1.6 zettabytes by 2020, according to a recent forecast from ABI Research.

Ellucian Buys Helix LMS, But Will It Matter?

e-Literate - 15 Abril, 2015 - 17:14

By Phil HillMore Posts (303)

At this year’s Ellucian users’ conference #elive15, one of the two big stories has been that Ellucian acquired the Helix LMS, including taking on the development team. I have previously described the Helix LMS in “Helix: View of an LMS designed for competency-based education” as well as the subsequent offer for sale in “Helix Education puts their competency-based LMS up for sale”. The emerging market for CBE-based learning platforms is quickly growing, at least in terms of pilot programs and long-term potential, and Helix is one of the most full-featured, well-designed systems out there.

The Announcement

From the announcement:

Ellucian has acquired Helix Education’s competency-based education LMS and introduced a 2015 development partner program to collaborate with customers on the next-generation, cloud-only solution.

As the non-traditional student stands to make up a significant majority of learners by 2019, Ellucian is investing in technologies that align with priorities of colleges and universities it serves. CBE programs offer a promising new way for institutions to reduce the cost and time of obtaining a high-quality degree that aligns with the skills required by today’s employers.

I had been surprised at the announcement of intent-to-sell in December, noting:

The other side of the market effect will be determined by which company buys the Helix LMS. Will a financial buyer (e.g. private equity) choose to create a standalone CBE platform company? Will a traditional LMS company buy the Helix LMS to broaden their reach in the quickly-growing CBE space (350 programs in development in the US)? Or will an online service provider and partial competitor of Helix Education buy the LMS? It will be interesting to see which companies bid on this product line and who wins.

And I am surprised at the answer – a private equity owned ERP vendor. Throughout the mid 2000s there was talk about the ERP vendors like SunGard Higher Education (SGHE) (which combined with Datatel in 2011 and renamed as Ellucian in 2012) and Oracle entering the LMS market by acquisition, yet this did not materialize beyond the dreaded strategic partnership . . . until perhaps this week. But the Helix LMS was designed specifically for CBE programs, not general usage, so is this really a move into the broader LMS market?

When I interviewed Helix Education about the LMS last summer, they stated several times that the system could be used for non-CBE programs, but there is no evidence that this has actually occurred. I’ll admit that it is more likely to expand a CBE system into general usage than it is to convert a course-based traditional LMS into a CBE system, but it is not clear that the end result of such an expansion would remain a compelling product with user experience appreciated by faculty and students. The path is not risk-free.

Based on briefings yesterday at #elive15, there is evidence that:

  • Ellucian plans to expand the Helix LMS (which will be renamed) beyond CBE; and
  • Ellucian understands that there is development still remaining for this broader usage[1].

Courtesy Ryan Schwiebert:

Support for broad set of delivery models: CBE, Online, Hybrid, Blended, Traditional, CE/WFD

One Challenge: Strategy

But there are already signs that Ellucian is not committed to deliver an LMS with “support for broad set of delivery models”. As described at Inside Higher Ed:

At its user conference in New Orleans, Ellucian announced the acquisition of Helix Education’s learning management system. The company will “blend” the software, which supports nontraditional methods of tracking student progress, into its student information system, said Mark Jones, chief product officer at Ellucian. While he stressed that the company is not planning to become a major learning management system provider, Ellucian will make the system available to departments interested in offering competency-based education.

“The initial goal and focus is on enabling competency-based education programs to flourish,” Jones said. “In terms of being a broader L.M.S. solution, if our customers find value… we will certainly have that conversation.”

I asked Jim Ritchey, president of Delta Initiative and who is attending the conference, for his reaction to Ellucian’s strategy. Jim noted the reaction at the conference to the news “seemed to be more of a curiosity than interest”, and then added:

To me, one of the key questions is how Ellucian will “blend” the software. Do they mean that schools will be able to post the results of the competency based courses to the SIS, or are they talking about leveraging other products within the LMS? For example, some of the capabilities of Pilot could be leveraged to deliver additional capabilities to the LMS. The concern I would have is that tying the LMS to other products will cause the LMS development to be dependent on the roadmaps of the other products. Ellucian will need to find the right level of independence for the LMS so it can grow as a solution while using other products to enhance capabilities. Will the LMS get lost?

In addition there the differing nature of the products to consider. The Helix LMS is centered on the learner and the learner’s schedule, while Banner, Colleague, and PowerCampus are centered on academic terms and courses. These differing design concepts could cause the blending process to remove some of the unique value of the LMS.

Another Challenge: Execution

On paper, this deal seems significant. The company with arguably the greatest number of US higher ed clients now owns an LMS that not only has a modern design but also is targeted at the new wave of CBE programs. The real question, however, is whether Ellucian can pull this off based on their own track record.

Since the 2011 acquisition of SGHE by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, Ellucian has endured wave after wave of layoffs and cost cutting measures. I described in 2011 how the SGHE acquisition could pay for itself.

If Hellman & Friedman can achieve reasonable efficiencies by combing SGHE with Datatel, this investment could potentially justify itself in 5 – 7 years by focusing on cash flow operating income, even without SGHE finding a way to reverse its decline in revenue.

Add to this Ellucian’s poor track record of delivering on major product upgrades. The transition from Banner 8 to Banner 9, or later to Banner XE, was described in 2008, promised in 2010, re-promised in 2011, and updated in 2012 / 2013. Banner XE is actually a strategy and not a product. To a degree, this is more a statement of the administrative systems / ERP market in general than just on Ellucian, but the point is that this is a company in a slow-moving market. Workday’s entry into the higher education ERP market has shaken up the current vendors – primarily Ellucian and Oracle / Peoplesoft – and I suspect that many of Ellucian’s changes are in direct response to Workday’s new market power.

Ellucian has bought itself a very good LMS and a solid development team. But will Ellucian have the management discipline to finish the product development and integration that hits the sweet spot for at least some customers? Furthermore, will the Ellucian sales staff sell effectively into the academic systems market?

A related question is why Ellucian is trying to expand into this adjacent market. It seems that Ellucian is suffering from having too many products, and the LMS addition that from the outset requires a new set of development could be a distraction. As Ritchey described after the 2012 conference (paraphrasing what he heard from other attendees):

The approach makes sense, but the hard decisions have not been made. Supporting every product is easy to say and not easy to deliver. At some point in time, they will finalize the strategy and that is when we will begin to learn the future.

In The End . . .

The best argument I have read for this acquisition was provided by Education Dive.

Ellucian is already one of the largest providers of cloud-based software and this latest shift with Banner and Colleague will allow its higher education clients to do even more remotely. Enterprise resource planning systems help colleges and universities increase efficiency with technology. Ellucian touts its ERPs as solutions for automating admissions, creating a student portal for services as well as a faculty portal for grades and institutional information, simplifying records management, managing records, and tracking institutional metrics. The LMS acquisition is expected to take the data analytics piece even further, giving clients more information about students to aid in retention and other initiatives.

But these benefits will matter if and only if Ellucian can overcome its history and deliver focused product improvements. The signals I’m getting so far are that Ellucian has not figured out its strategy and has not demonstrated its ability to execute in this area. Color me watchful but skeptical.

  1. See the “development partner program” part of the announcement.

The post Ellucian Buys Helix LMS, But Will It Matter? appeared first on e-Literate.

Where Flipped Learning Research Is Going

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 17:00
While most agree that the flipped classroom model benefits learning, researchers are delving into the details and exploring the many facets of a flip.

Next Moodle General Developer Meeting is 4/21/2015 @ 3am EST

Moodle News - 15 Abril, 2015 - 16:45
Interested in what’s coming down the pike for Moodle development? The General Developer Meeting is a great source for information to see the latest initiatives by Moodle HQ and the community as...

Video: How to Embed Youtube Videos into Forum Posts

Moodle News - 15 Abril, 2015 - 14:39
Here’s a quick (3 minute) video that highlights how Youtube videos can be embedded by students in new forum posts. A handy primer on how students can also embed content. Note that the process...

Big Data in Life Science Research Demands Advanced Networking, Computing Capabilities

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 13:05
At the Internet2 Global Summit taking place in Washington, DC April 26-30, researchers in the life sciences will meet with engineers and technology leaders in the research and education community to discuss the advancement of IT infrastructure and applications for big data.

Canon Unveils Projector that Requires a Single Ethernet Cable for HD Video, Audio, Serial Control

Campus Technology - 15 Abril, 2015 - 13:00
The new REALiS WUX500, equipped with WiFi, can also project from multiple computers wirelessly, as well as allow the projection of JPEG images without a computer.

Workplace Learning and Learning Analytics

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 15 Abril, 2015 - 12:37

I have been looking hard at Learning Analytics in the last month. In particular, as part of the European EmployID project application, as a bit of a not really thought through objective, we said we would experiment with the use of Learning Analytics in European Public Employment Services. this raises a series of issues which I will come back to in future ports. It seems to me that whilst there is much talk around the potential of  Learning Analytics in the workplace, there is very limited research and actual applications.

One of the reasons for this is that so much learning in the workplace in informal. As Boud and Hager (2012) say:

learning is a normal part of working, and indeed most other social activities. It occurs through practice in work settings from addressing the challenges and problems that arise. Most learning takes place not through formalized activities, but through the exigencies of practice with peers and others, drawing on expertise that is accessed in response to need. Problem-solving in which participants tackle challenges which progressively extend their existing capabilities and learn with and from each other appears to be common and frequent form of naturalistic development.

I would also add that much workplace learning is also driven through personal interest – a fact that is largely ignored and which has considerable economic implications in terms of workplace competence development. Although we can dream of a world where water cooler conversations are recorded by smart devices and sensors and added to other traces of digital activity, I am not sure this is a desirable outcome. So we have a challenge. most (university and formal education based) learning analytics focus on analysing digital interactions in, for example, a VLE. How can we sensibly and ethically extend data capture and analysis to informal workplace learning?

The numbers game

Learning with 'e's - 15 Abril, 2015 - 11:54
When you mark a student's work, do you give them a grade or do you offer them advice? Both, do I hear you say? If you are offering both, then you're doing well. But not all teachers do, and I should point out that there is a big difference between assessment of learning and assessment for learning. Assessing students' work can be tedious and time consuming, and it turns out to be the bane of many teachers' lives. But it is a vitally important part of pedagogy.

Assessment of learning focuses largely on the student's work and offers metrics - awarding a grade with a numerical value - that reflect how the work is measured against specific criteria. By contrast, assessment for learning focuses on the student - particularly recognising that their learning is an ongoing process - and seeks to inform learners on how they can improve their work in the future. Some would argue that giving grades reflects a product-based pedaogogy, while offering feedback supports a process-based pedagogy.

Ever stopped to wonder why we give grades? What value do students place on numbers, or letters? What does it mean to get a 'B' for an essay, or to achieve 50% in an exam? In higher education, students' efforts - whether they take the form of essay, project or an exam - are 'marked' on a 100 point scale. Anything below 40 is a fail, and anything above 70 is a first class result. The majority of students achieve grades somewhere between these two scores, because more often than not, students tend to produce average work. Sometimes it's because lecturers mark conservatively and don't like to fail students (that could reflect badly on their own academic reputation) or draw attention by awarding an outstanding piece of work a 95 or even a 100.

Why do we need to attach a number to someone's work? Is the numbers game teachers play a meaningful exercise or a nonsense? To reduce a student's work - which they have often painstakingly constructed over a period of several weeks or months - to a single number, seems a little unfair. Although a student's grade can be accompanied by comments on their work, it is the grade that usually takes centre stage, because ultimately, over a period of time, grades determine the classification of degree the student will be awarded. Whether employers value degree classifications as much as universities, is a moot point, and to be debated elsewhere. Assessment for learning can also incorporate grades, but the emphasis is on the feedback (some might say feed-forward) which is a form of scaffolding to support students as they strive to do better in their academic endeavours.

In the final analysis, marking of students' work is either about how their work measures up against standards, or it is about how well the teacher can get them to understand what they need to do better next time. The two outcomes are vastly different. They represents a clash of ideologies on how education should be conducted. They have their roots in the same battle for education I have previously articulated. Unsurprisingly, there were a few antagonistic responses to these posts, because some disliked my argument that there might be a binary and saw it as too simplistic. The arguments remains - that although we can all choose how we teach and assess, our decisions are often influenced by ideology and the culture we find ourselves immersed within. Personal views on the purpose of education shape professional practice. In reality, a range of assessment practices do exist, but as educators we should acknowledge that personal philosophy in education drives everything a teacher does. Without adequate feedback, students find it difficult to progress. Simply placing a number at the top of an assignment does little to support their development as learners.

Assessment is at the heart of education. If measurement of learning is done well, not only can teachers be reasonably sure how well their students are doing, they can provide evaluation on the effectiveness of the curriculum, teaching methods and resources. However, we know there is no substitute for good scaffolding of learning, and useful feedback is central.

Photo by Andy Barrow on Flickr


The numbers game by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

Aprendizaje basado en proyectos: del profesor pionero a los centros innovadores

Las llamadas metodologías activas están cada vez más presentes en el aprendizaje de muchos alumnos. Aprendizaje cooperativo, "flipped classroom" (clase invertida), trabajo por centros de interés o aprendizaje basado en proyectos son propuestas metodológicas que los docentes están incorporando a su práctica diaria o que, por lo menos, están interesados en conocer.

En este contexto, el Aprendizaje Basado en Proyectos (ABP) es la línea metodológica por la que parece que están apostando una mayoría de docentes, expertos, administraciones educativas y responsables de formación del profesorado.

En muchos centros educativos los profesores y maestros se lanzan a desafiar a sus alumnos a aprender a través de un proyecto de aula que puede consistir en desafíos tan diversos como crear sites recopilatorios, crear vídeos divulgativos, organizar exposiciones científicas o construir objetos útiles para el aula.

Al mismo tiempo, aumentan las posibilidades de formación de los docentes sobre ABP. Las administraciones educativas están ampliando rápidamente la oferta de cursos, presenciales o en línea y, según muestran las estadísticas (Diapositiva 56), el éxito de estas convocatorias es muy importante.

Buenos resultados, grandes propuestas

El trabajo por proyectos es por tanto una metodología que está ofreciendo buenos resultados, dando a los alumnos y a sus profesores y maestros nuevas vías para aprender y trabajar en el aula. La aplicación de la metodología ABP está ofreciendo resultados tan interesantes como los que podemos ver en estos ejemplos:

Estas propuestas sirven para ilustrar como el ABP cambia la dinámica del aula en diversos aspectos: el rol del profesor pasa de transmisor de información a facilitador y orientador, los alumnos asumen el peso del aprendizaje y trabajan cooperando y, por supuesto, la organización de los espacios se adapta al nuevo planteamiento metodológico. Se modifican algunos de los objetivos del aprendizaje pero al mismo tiempo se mantiene la vinculación directa con el currículo.

Los alumnos que desarrollan proyectos utilizan las TIC en su trabajo de aula por distintas vías. En primer lugar, los equipos de alumnos recurren a la Red y las herramientas tecnológicas para apoyar diversas tareas como la búsqueda de información, el contacto con otros compañeros o el desarrollo de espacios recopilación de información y difusión de sus actividades en clase (blogs, sites, páginas web).

Por otra parte, el aprendizaje por proyectos implica, casi de manera natural, que los alumnos tengan que hacer un uso avanzando de las herramientas tecnológicas para presentar información, generar sus propios recursos de aprendizaje o presentar el trabajo de un proyecto públicamente con el apoyo de presentaciones, vídeos, mapas conceptuales o aplicaciones para dispositivos móviles.

De manera más práctica, las experiencias de aplicación de metodología ABP muestran que el clima de aulas y centros educativos, la motivación de los alumnos y el nivel de satisfacción de los docentes aumentan con la aplicación de estas metodologías. De ahí, que actualmente muchos profesores de manera individual trabajan con sus alumnos a través del aprendizaje por proyectos.

Transformar los centros, extender el ABP

El reto ahora es que el aprendizaje por proyectos deje de aparecer en los centros a partir de iniciativas individuales de algunos profesores para convertirse en una metodología incorporada a los proyectos pedagógicos de los centros que permita establecer un nuevo modelo de aprendizaje y organización, como apuntan John Larmer y John Mergendoler, del Buck Institute for Education.

"En la actualidad una minoría de profesores desarrollan el duro trabajo de diseñar y aplicar programaciones de aula en las que el trabajo por proyectos son el eje central. Son, en casi todas las ocasiones, esfuerzos individuales que no son acompañados ni reforzados por prácticas similares llevadas a cabo por otros profesores en otros grupos-clase. De esta forma, la mayoría de los estudiantes de las escuelas e institutos nunca tienen la oportunidad de trabajar por proyectos".1

Estas afirmaciones de los autores estadounidenses son perfectamente aplicables al caso español. La riqueza y variedad de propuestas basadas en proyectos no debe ocultar que la mayoría de los alumnos de todos los niveles de enseñanza obligatoria aún no han trabajado nunca por proyectos. Incluso, los que si lo hacen trabajan con esta metodología en algunas materias y con algunos profesores concretos.

En gran parte de los centros educativos el ABP no se lleva a cabo o que quienes lo llevan a cabo son un grupo muy reducido de los profesores que forman el claustro. Con ello, encontramos que en un instituto o colegio solo algunos grupos concretos de alumnos trabajan de manera sistemática. Entretanto, la mayoría de sus compañeros continúan trabajando de manera tradicional o en el mejor de los casos solo tienen la oportunidad de aplicar los aprendizajes activos de manera muy puntual.

La vía para dar un paso más y facilitar que muchos alumnos, a través del impulso de sus profesores, puedan trabajar por proyectos pasa, sin duda, por conseguir que los centros educativos en su conjunto asuman, como eje vertebrador de la organización académica y de su proyecto pedagógico, la metodología ABP. Existen ya algunas experiencias en ese sentido en centros públicos como la del INS Montgrós.

¿Cómo conseguir dar este paso aparentemente tan radical? Evidentemente requiere de un proceso en el que deben estar implicados profesores, equipos directivos, padres y por supuesto alumnos. Las claves para conseguir crear lo que podríamos llamar "Centros ABP" son enumeradas por los mismos Larmer y Mergendoler en el artículo citado anteriormente.

Resumiendo, podemos decir que, según estos autores, para que los centros educativos se conviertan en colegios e institutos "de proyectos y por proyectos" será necesario, entre otros aspectos:

  • El acuerdo de toda la comunidad educativa en torno a lo que se considera una buena formación para los alumnos y que esta puede pasar por el aprendizaje por proyectos.... Los profesores y los alumnos deben considerar el trabajo por proyectos como el método fundamental y común para trabajar en el aula.
  • Creación de repositorios / bibliotecas de proyectos que los profesores puedan usar y adaptar. Antes de incluir un proyecto en la biblioteca debe revisarse su calidad y probarse en el aula. Los proyectos que formen parte de la biblioteca tienen que ser fácilmente accesibles e incluir todo tipo de recursos y orientaciones para los profesores y los alumnos.
  • Formación del profesorado del centro. Llevada a cabo por personas con experiencia acerca de ABP.
  • Un liderazgo administrativo e instructivo. Este liderazgo llevará a que se tomen decisiones organizativas (como la distribución de horarios o la asignación de recursos) que permitan que puedan desarrollarse los proyectos.

La creación de estas condiciones tiene que apoyarse en la existencia de recursos educativos abiertos (REA) accesibles, de calidad y bien fundamentados curricular y metodológicamente. Estos contenidos serán el mejor soporte para facilitar que padres, alumnos, docentes y equipos directivos puedan asumir conjuntamente la metodología de trabajo por proyectos.

Estos REA ofrecerán, a toda la comunidad educativa, unos recursos en los que los proyectos estarán vinculados directamente al currículo. De esta forma, y siguiendo las pautas de instituciones como el Buck Institute for Education, los proyectos se convierten en "el plato principal y no el postre". Es decir, se trabaja por proyectos en el aula para que los alumnos aprendan aquello que deben aprender.

Directores implicados, comunidad educativa implicada

La implicación directa y activa de los equipos directivos de los centros puede considerarse una condición básica para que un centro educativo en su conjunto elija como opción metodológica el aprendizaje basado en proyectos. Es esencial que los encargados de dirección de los centros decidan apostar por el ABP y trabajen con profesores, departamentos didácticos, padres y alumnos para que toda la comunidad educativa asuma como propio el nuevo modelo de aprendizaje.

Esto no acontece así en la mayor parte de los colegios e institutos, en los que los maestros y profesores que trabajan por proyectos lo hacen por iniciativa propia o de manera aislada y encuentran en algunos casos dificultades para que, por ejemplo, la distribución de horarios les permita trabajar de manera más flexible con sus alumnos.

 

En este sentido, formar de manera directa a los equipos directivos de los centros en aprendizaje por proyectos permitirá que directores y jefes de estudio se conviertan en agentes y facilitadores del verdadero cambio metodológico en las aulas. Esta formación debe dirigirse no solo a mostrar modelos de éxito y a darles a conocer las claves del modelo ABP sino también a poner a su disposición recursos que les permitan diseñar un modelo pedagógico nuevo para su centro educativo.

Los recursos educativos abiertos diseñados para el trabajo por proyectos ofrecen a los equipos directivos una guía y un soporte claro para apostar por el ABP en sus proyectos de centro. Al tratarse de propuestas completas y vinculadas al currículo sirven de guía para que el nuevo modelo de centro se asiente en objetivos de aprendizaje claros y en una organización de los tiempos y los espacios escolares que tengan sentido pedagógicos. Como consecuencia, los equipos directivos podrán tomar en sus centros decisiones organizativas que apoyen la introducción de la metodología por proyectos.

En este sentido, será esencial un nuevo planteamiento en el diseño de los horarios del centro para que por un lado los profesores se reúnan para diseñar los proyectos, revisar la marcha de los mismos y buscar y compartir recursos. Al mismo tiempo es necesario que haya flexibilidad para que esos horarios puedan ser adaptados por lo menos semanalmente para facilitar el desarrollo de los proyectos.

En paralelo, la comunidad educativa podrá avanzar para establecer acuerdos en otro aspecto esencial: en primer lugar la asunción de las rúbricas y otros documentos de aprendizaje por proyectos como mecanismos de evaluación .

A partir de estos cambios en los centros, los REA basados en aprendizaje basado por proyectos facilitarán además que los profesores de cualquier claustro puedan proponer a sus alumnos trabajar en una metodología basada en proyectos superando las dificultades que muchos de ellos encuentran y que fueron analizadas en un estudio llevado a cabo en 2006 y divulgado en nuestro país por Fernando Trujillo2:

  • El tiempo que es necesario invertir para preparar el material.
  • La dificultad de encontrar vías efectivas para apoyar el trabajo de los alumnos durante el proyecto.
  • La búsqueda de modelos para integrar las TIC como parte esencial del proyecto.
  • La dificultad en diseñar criterios y modelos de evaluación de las diferentes tareas y del proyecto de manera global.
  • El tenor a que el trabajo por proyectos desvirtúe la materia e implique que no se trabajen los aspectos esenciales de la misma.
  • La dificultad de hacer comprender a las familias el sentido y valor de esta nueva metodología.

El último punto de este listado lleva al tercer elemento esencial para que los centros educativos hagan de la metodología ABP su elemento estructurador y al que también puede contribuir la existencia de recursos educativos abiertos de calidad y ampliamente testados: la aceptación, y sobre todo la implicación de los padres y alumnos en el nuevo modelo de centros basado en ABP.

Para conseguirla, padres y madres deben percibir no solo que esta apuesta va a mejorar el clima de trabajo en el aula y la satisfacción de sus hijos sino también la calidad del aprendizaje y los resultados académicos de los mismos. Una vía para conseguirlo está en mostrar a los padres que las secuencias didácticas diseñadas para el ABP tienen unos objetivos claros, están vinculadas al currículo de manera explícita y contienen todos los elementos para evaluar el aprendizaje de los alumnos.

En este sentido, los REA para trabajo por proyectos ofrecen recursos que permiten trabajar todos los contenidos y lograr los objetivos propuestos en el currículo de cada materia a partir de un modelo de recursos cuyos proyectos cumplen lo que por se denomina "el aprendizaje basado en proyectos del siglo XXI"

  • Permiten un aprendizaje de los contenidos y objetivos significativos.
  • Trabajan el pensamiento crítico, la resolución de problemas, el diálogo y diversas formas de comunicación
  • Incluyen la investigación y la creación de algo nuevo como parte del proceso de aprendizaje.
  • Parten de una pregunta abierta inicial.
  • Generan en los alumnos la necesidad de saber y aprender.
  • Incluyen hitos de revisión y reflexión sobre el aprendizaje.
  • Plantean la presentación y difusión pública del trabajo.

Por último, los alumnos son el elemento clave en toda esta propuesta de transformación de los centros educativos. Solo será posible que los "Centros ABP" tengan éxito si los alumnos están motivados hacia el método de aprendizaje que se les proponen, perciben que este tiene sentido y ven muy claro cuáles son los objetivos, procesos y formas de evaluación que van a encontrarse.

Como conclusión, podemos decir que el verdadero éxito del trabajo por proyectos pasa porque toda la comunidad educativa de los centros educativos asuman esta metodología como la base del proyecto educativo del centro. Lograrlo pasa por una serie de cambios y de actuaciones a las que el uso de recursos educativos abiertos basados en ABP pueden dar un apoyo fundamental que facilite que una gran mayoría de los alumnos de nuestro sistema educativo trabajen y aprendan por proyectos.

Consideraciones finales

El aprendizaje basado en proyectos aparece actualmente como una metodología que puede contribuir a que los alumnos de todos los niveles aprendan más y mejor e incorporen a su aprendizaje aspectos como el uso de las TIC, la cooperación con los otros y la adquisición de competencias para aprender a aprender.

Estas posibilidades que ofrece el aprendizaje por proyectos son las que están llevando a que, de manera individual, docentes muy diferentes y de centros muy diferentes introduzcan, por diferentes vías y en diferentes medidas el aprendizaje por proyectos en sus prácticas de aula y sobre todo propongan a sus alumnos nuevas formas de trabajar en clase.

El siguiente paso tiene que ser pasar de las iniciativas individuales a los proyectos de centro. El objetivo para los próximos cursos debe ser conseguir que el aprendizaje por proyectos sea el eje vertebrador de la organización y el proyecto pedagógico de colegios e institutos.

Profesores y alumnos tienen que encontrar en sus centros condiciones que les permitan embarcarse en el trabajo por proyectos, eliminando las posibles dificultades. Para conseguirlo, es esencial el papel de los equipos directivos, que deben conocer y dar impulso a esta metodología en sus centros y de los padres, quienes tienen que implicarse y conocer el por qué la necesidad de que sus hijos aprendan de una manera diferente.

Los recursos educativos abiertos (REA) diseñados para trabajar por proyectos son una herramienta que contribuye directamente a que los centros educativos puedan asumir de manera integral el aprendizaje basado en proyectos como apuesta metodológica y organizativa.

Los REA basados en proyectos son una herramienta que debe acompañar el proceso por el que los centros educativos de cualquier nivel deciden convertirse en centros en los que la organización de espacios y horarios y la línea pedagógica se basan en el aprendizaje por proyectos.

Sus características los convierten en recursos casi imprescindibles que van a formar parte de la verdadera revolución metodológica del siglo XXI: aquella que convertirá a los centros educativos en impulsores colectivos del cambio en la manera de aprender.

Artículos relacionados:

Notas bibliográficas:

1.-  Larmer, John y Mergendoler, John. The main course, not dessert. How students are reaching 21st goals? With 21st Century Project Based Learning (Pags 3 y 4). Recuperado el 24 de marzo de 2014 de http://bie.org/object/document/main_course_not_dessert

2.- Marx, Bummenfeld, Krajick y Saloway y Van der Berg, Mortenans, Spooren, Van Petergen, Gijbels y Vanthounout, (2006). Inquiry in project based inquiry classrooms. The Journal of the learning sciences, 7 (3 y 4) 315-350 y Fernando Trujillo #ABPINTEF: Qué aporta el aprendizaje basado en proyectos y cuáles son las principales dificultades Recuperado el 27 de marzo de 2014 de http://blog.fernandotrujillo.es/abpintef-que-aporta-principales-dificultades/

Referencias de las imágenes:

Laurie Sullivan. DSC09264. CC BY

Julie Linsay. Social Entrepreneurship Student Workshop. CC BY

CeDeC. La pócima. CC BY SA

Tess India. 0002 - P1000031. CC BY SA

New Swivl Update Lets Remote Students Control Robotic Telepresence

Campus Technology - 14 Abril, 2015 - 23:49
A new element to a live conferencing program will allow students in remote locations to participate in classroom activities, thanks to their ability to independently operate new remote control robotic functions.

Pearson Selects Student Coding Contest Winners

Campus Technology - 14 Abril, 2015 - 23:10
Pearson has selected the winners for its second annual Student Coding Contest, which asks students to create apps designed to help others learn.

Kirkpatrick Model Good or Bad? The Epic Mega Battle!

OLDaily - 14 Abril, 2015 - 22:01
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Will Thalheimer, Clark Quinn, Will at Work Learning, Apr 14, 2015

The Kirkpatrick Model is a mechanism for evaluating learning programs; you can read about it here. The idea is to take evaluations of learning events beyond the 'reaction sheet' and to look at the actual results, including "to what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement." These targeted outcomes are often, in a corporate setting, the impact of changes in behaviour (lower losses, keeping on schedule, etc). This post debates the merit of the Kirkpatrick Model. In particular, we have to ask whether it's fair to old training designers and instructors to targeted outcomes. "Employees should be held to account within their circles of maximum influence, and NOT so much in their circles of minimum influence." There's only so much a trainer can do to improve performance, just as there's only so much a cleaner can do to ensure clients are impressed, and only such a lawyer can do in a lawsuit.

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Corporate Culture in a Venn Diagram

OLDaily - 14 Abril, 2015 - 22:01
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Dan Pontrefact, Apr 14, 2015

You can read the article for yourself; I want to use this post to flag the misuse of the term "Venn Diagram". In this article, the diagram has four circles, while in a proper Venn diagram there are only three. Why does this matter? Well, the whole purpose of a Venn Diagram is to display all possible overlaps of different categories (specifically: A and not B or C, B and not A or C, C and not A or C, A and B and not C, A and C and not B, B and C and not A, and A and B and C). By this means categorical inferences can be diagrammed and proven. But the four-circle diagram does not display all possible overlaps. Any categorizations produced by means of such a diagram will therefore be miscategorizations. For example, in Pontrefact's diagram, there is no space for "relationship and connected and not committed or open". You may argue that this is an empty category, but this is surely an empirical truth (if it is true) and not a logical truth. Bottom line: don't use four-circle Venn diagrams, or your readers (some of them, at least) will know you don't understand basic categorical reasoning.

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Someone Calculated How Many Adjunct Professors Are on Public Assistance, and the Number Is Startling

OLDaily - 14 Abril, 2015 - 22:01
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Jordan Weissmann, MoneyBox, Apr 14, 2015

When people are living on low wages in North America, the government is essentially subsidizing their employers. It's as though we are saying "we (the taxpayers) are willing to contribute directly to their basic needs for food and shelter so you can have low prices at Walmart and McDonalds." All this would be out-of-scope for this newsletter were it not for the fact that so many academic workers fall into the same category (I had an argument with a York university administrator recently while in Armenia; he felt it was perfectly fine for sessionals to live on $10,000 per semester). As this article notes, in the U.S., 25% of adjuncts are on social assistance. This means governments are subsidizing colleges and universities by paying adjuncts things like food stamps directly. It's shameful, and academic employers should be ashamed.

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Media, kids and mad parents

OLDaily - 14 Abril, 2015 - 22:01
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Dean Groom, Playable, Apr 14, 2015

I think this article describes a very narrow segment of media-rich kids, but the message and warning are relevant. Dean Groom writes, "Kids  live in a world which is presented to them though inescapable media messages where persistent ‘ calls to action’ .... I’ m describing this culture as neo-evolutionary where the media created for them is more powerful than any media created by them." This culture removes from kids the need to have money or credit cards - everything they need is delivered to them right through the media they consume. "The media has accepted that children will live in a neo-evolutionary closed community where the messages are there for just about any other purpose than critical thinking."

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Survival to Success: Transforming Immigrant Outcomes

OLDaily - 14 Abril, 2015 - 22:01
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Government of Canada, Apr 14, 2015

panel "led by experts in the areas of newcomer integration, diversity and certification" is conducting interviews in a bid to determine how best to help new Canadians integrate into the economy. There is an online consultation available here. The panel reports that "there is insufficient emphasis on follow-up for alternative careers and enhanced soft-skills training," recommend a "pan-Canadian standard" to assess the skills of prospective immigrants, collaboration "to maximize the effectiveness of the tools and services that help immigrants gain meaningful employment," and a focus on "on how to increase retention outside large metropolitan areas."

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