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It would be interesting to read (or write) a post mortem on this project some day.
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post describing the University of Phoenix investment of a billion dollars on new IT infrastructure, including hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a new, adaptive-learning LMS. In another post I described a ridiculous patent awarded to Apollo Group, parent company of U of Phoenix, that claimed ownership of adaptive activity streams. Beyond the patent, Apollo Group also purchased Carnegie Learning for $75 million as part of this effort.
And that’s all going away, as described by this morning’s Chronicle article on the company planning to go down to just 150,000 students (from a high of 460,000 several years ago).
And after spending years and untold millions on developing its own digital course platform that it said would revolutionize online learning, Mr. Cappelli said the university would drop its proprietary learning systems in favor of commercially available products. Many Apollo watchers had long expected that it would try to license its system to other colleges, but that never came to pass.
I wonder what the company will do with the patent and with Carnegie Learning assets now that they’re going with commercial products. I also wonder who is going to hire many of the developers. I don’t know the full story, but it is pretty clear that even with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars and adjunct faculty with centralized course design, the University of Phoenix did not succeed in building the next generation learning platform.
Update: Here is full quote from earnings call:
Fifth. We plan to move away from certain proprietary and legacy IT systems to more efficiently meet student and organizational needs over time. This means transitioning an increased portion of our technology portfolio to commercial software providers, allowing us to focus more of our time and investment on educating and student outcomes. While Apollo was among the first to design an online classroom and supporting system, in today’s world it’s simply not as efficient to continue to support complicated, custom-designed systems particularly with the newer quality systems we have more recently found with of the self providers that now exist within the marketplace. This is expected to reduce costs over the long term, increase operational efficiency and effectiveness while still very much supporting a strong student experience.
The post U of Phoenix: Losing hundreds of millions of dollars on adaptive-learning LMS bet appeared first on e-Literate.
Good overview article detailing the history of learning resource metadata. Though technically correct, it's not completely accurate to say that IEEE's LOM was "the first international standard for educational technology". Before LOM there were the IMS learning object metadata protocols, which in turn followed the AICC's protocols. But yeah, IEEE was the first "standard". And it was followed by many other "standards", which are listed in the article. But the point of this article is mostly to describe the latest incarnation, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative, which takes us back into the land of specifications. "LRMI is now a task group of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. That provides us with with the mechanisms and governance required to maintain, promote, and if necessary extend the specification."[Link] [Comment]
With apologies to the 5 Rs oft-cited by David Wiley, writes Martin Weller, here are the three Rs universities are really interested in (quoted):
- Recruitment – depending on who you are, getting students is an issue. If you are an elite university it is not so much a matter of getting sufficient students, but getting the types of students you want. Either way recruiting students is the lifeblood of any university.
- Retention – having recruited students, you then need to keep them. Why do students drop out within a module, or fail to progress to another module? What can we do to help students with particular needs? How can we be flexible enough to accommodate non-traditional students?
- Reputation – what is the reputation of the university with potential students (see recruitment), the general population, the local community, the media, government, etc. What is it known for? What perceptions or misconceptions about it do people hold?
Weller is unquestionably right. These are the things universities care about. My question is: does anyone else care about these three things? Why should we care about them? When universities express these as priorities, are they serving society, they students, or merely themselves? Contra Weller, I ask, why should we make claims for MOOCs and other learning technologies against these three things?[Link] [Comment]
Jon Dron gets it right in his response to Malcolm Brown's defense of the concept of the NGDLE. "It has been done before," he writes, "over ten years ago in the form of ELF, in much more depth and detail and with large government and standards bodies supporting it, and it is important to learn the lessons of what was ultimately a failed initiative. Well - maybe not failed, but certainly severely stalled." You read the history of that here on OLDaily, first as the E-Learning Framework, and then the renamed E-Framework (note that many of the links no longer work). I remember being initially supportive but then becoming increasingly frustrated as the objectives of the program gradually drowned under a maze of standards and projects and disappearing web pages. Then, in 2008: "Our current approach, fundamentally, is totally, completely, utterly wrong, isn't it?"[Link] [Comment]
In these two episodes of e-Literate TV, we shared how Arizona State University (ASU) started using Khan Academy as the software platform for a redesigned developmental math course (MAT 110). The program was designed in Summer 2014 and ran through Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 terms. Recognizing the public information shared through e-Literate TV, ASU officials recently informed us that they had made a programmatic change and will replace their use of Khan Academy software with McGraw-Hill’s LearnSmart software that is used in other sections of developmental math.
To put this news in context, here is the first episode’s mention of Khan Academy usage.
Phil Hill: The Khan Academy program that you’re doing, as I understand, it’s for general education math. Could you give just a quick summary of what the program is?
Adrian Sannier: Absolutely. So, for the last three-and-a-half years, maybe four, we have been using a variety of different computer tutor technologies to change the pedagogy that we use in first-year math. Now, first-year math begins with something we call “Math 110.” Math 110 is like if you don’t place into either college algebra, which has been the traditional first-year math course, or into a course we call “college math,” which is your non-STEM major math—if you don’t place into either of those, then that shows you need some remediation, some bolstering of some skills that you didn’t gain in high school.
So, we have a course for that. Our first-year math program encompasses getting you to either the ability to follow a STEM major or the ability to follow majors that don’t require as intense of a math education. What we’ve done is create an online mechanism to coach students. Each student is assigned a trained undergraduate coach under the direction of our instructor who then helps that student understand how to use the Khan Academy and other tools to work on the skills that they show deficit in and work toward being able to satisfy the very same standards and tests that we’ve always used to ascertain whether a student is prepared for the rest of their college work.
Luckily, the episode on MAT 110 focused mostly on the changing roles of faculty members and TAs when using an adaptive software approach, rather than focusing on Khan Academy itself. After reviewing the episode again, I believe that it stands on its own and is relevant even with the change in software platform. Nevertheless, I appreciate that ASU officials were proactive to let me know about this change, so that we can document the change here and in e-Literate TV transmedia.The Change
Since the change has not been shared outside of this notification (limiting my ability to do research and analysis), I felt the best approach would be to again interview Adrian Sannier, Chief Academic Technology Officer at ASU Online. Below is the result of an email interview, followed by short commentary [emphasis added].
Phil Hill: Thanks for agreeing to this interview to update plans on the MAT 110 course featured in the recent e-Literate TV episode. Could you describe the learning platforms used by ASU in the new math programs (MAT 110 and MAT 117 in particular) as well as describe any changes that have occurred this year?
Adrian Sannier: Over the past four years, ASU has worked with a variety of different commercially available personalized math tutors from Knewton, Pearson, McGraw Hill and the Khan Academy applied to 3 different courses in Freshman Math at ASU – College Algebra, College Math and Developmental Math. Each of these platforms has strengths and weaknesses in practice, and the ASU team has worked closely with the providers to identify ways to drive continuous improvement in their use at ASU.
This past year ASU used a customized version of Pearson’s MyMathLab as the instructional platform for College Algebra and College Math. In Developmental Math, we taught some sections using the Khan Academy Learning Dashboard and others using McGraw Hill’s LearnSmart environment.
This Fall, ASU will be using the McGraw Hill platform for Developmental Math and Pearson’s MyMathLab for Colege Algebra and College Math. While we also achieved good results with the Khan Academy this past year, we weren’t comfortable with our current ability to integrate the Khan product at the institutional level.
ASU is committed to the personalized adaptive approach to Freshman mathematics instruction, and we are continuously evaluating the product space to identify the tools that we feel will work best for our students.
Phil Hill: I presume this means that ASU’s usage of McGraw Hill’s LearnSmart for Developmental Math will continue and also expand to essentially replace the usage of Khan Academy. Is this correct? If so, what do you see as the impact on faculty and students involved in the course sections that previously used Khan Academy?
Adrian Sannier: That’s right Phil. Based on our experience with the McGraw Hill product we don’t expect any adverse effects.
Phil Hill: Could you further explain the comment “we weren’t comfortable with our current ability to integrate the Khan product at the institutional level”? I believe that Khan Academy’s API approach is more targeted to B2C [business-to-consumer] applications, allowing individual users to access information rather than B2B [business-to-business] enterprise usage, whereas McGraw Hill LearnSmart and others are set up for B2B usage from an API perspective. Is this the general issue you have in mind?
Adrian Sannier: That’s right Phil. We’ve found that the less cognitive load an online environment places on students the better results we see. Clean, tight integrations into the rest of the student experience result in earlier and more significant student engagement, and better student success overall.Notes
Keep in mind that ASU is quite protective of its relationship with multiple software vendors and that they go out of their way to not publicly complain or put their partners in a bad light, even if a change is required as in MAT 110. Adrian does make it clear, however, that the key issue is the ability to integrate reliably between multiple systems. As noted in the interview, I think a key issue here is a mismatch of business models. ASU wants enterprise software applications where they can deeply integrate with a reliable API to allow a student experience without undue “cognitive load” of navigating between applications. Khan Academy’s core business model relies on people navigating to their portal on their website, and this does not fit the enterprise software model. I have not interviewed Khan Academy, but this is how it looks from the outside.
There is another point to consider here. While I can see Adrian’s argument that “we don’t expect any adverse effects” in the long run, I do think there are switching costs in the short term. As Sue McClure told me via email, as an instructor she spent significantly more time than usual on this course due to course design and ramping up the new model. In addition, ASU added 11 TAs for the course sections using Khan Academy. These people have likely learned important lessons about supporting students in an adaptive learning setting, but a great deal of their Khan-specific time is now gone. Plus, they will need to spend time learning LearnSmart before getting fully comfortable in that environment.
Unfortunately, with the quick change, we might not see hard data to determine if the changes were working. I believe ASU’s plans were to analyze and publish the results from this new program after the third term which will not happen.
If I find out more information, I’ll share it here.
- The terms remedial math and developmental math are interchangeable in this context.
The post ASU Is No Longer Using Khan Academy In Developmental Math Program appeared first on e-Literate.
Inge de Waard links to this collection of xAPI case studies - these are "short (average 15 min) videos covering xAPI in a variety of settings.... real stories on how people in EdTech are using Experience API in their context. The videos were taped during the Orlando happening, and they include wonderful experts." See also the Connections Forum.[Link] [Comment]
This tells me that exactly the wrong people are in charge of knowledge distribution policy: "Gomez is a student in conservation and wildlife management, and for the most part has poor access to many of the resources and databases that would help him conduct his research. He shared an academic paper on Scribd so that he and others could access it for their work. If convicted, Diego could face a prison term of 4-8 years." I mean, seriously?[Link] [Comment]
I think that the single greatest thing about Instagram - and about the internet generally - is that it breaks through the barriers that would normally keep you apart from other people. "Maybe the jocks don’ t talk to all of the theater and band people," says Kelsey Bageant, another student at Musselman. "They might not know them at all, but they all follow them on Instagram, just because they all go to the same school." We hear sometimes about how the internet pushes people to associate only with their own group (a phenomenon called 'homophily') but my experience is that it's the opposite. People cling together in clans in real life, and cross paths with people of different cultures and beliefs online. P.S. I also identify with the photo-a-day thing.[Link] [Comment]
Michael Feldstein takes D2L to task for what he argues are misleading statistics being offered by the LMS company. "The highlights of the analytics announcements... were incredibly disappointing in almost every way possible, and good examples of a really bad pattern of hype and misdirection that we’ ve been seeing from D2L lately," he writes. He cites a couple of posts from Phil Hill in particular, "Phil recently caught John Baker using… questionable retention statistics in a speech he gave. In that case, the problem wasn’ t that the statistic itself was meaningless but rather that there was no reason to believe that D2L had anything to do with the improvement in the case being cited. And then there’ s the slight-of-hand that Phil just called out regarding their LeaP marketing."[Link] [Comment]
Our online identity is our identity. "Most people who do a search on their name come to realise that the search result is essentially the first page of their online identity – their folio. It could be personal, it could be professional, often it’ s both." So when this is the case, what it the result of handing this identity over to Google? And what are we committing students two when our institutions use Google as a primary educational tool? `What about people who have already built themselves an online workspace, a professional identity and folio? Should they stop with that and rebuild another one? Won’ t they dilute their online identities, especially students, casuals, contractors and other transients?[Link] [Comment]