Tag Archives: Ed Tech

Sticky Notes and Small Groups: Digital Work in the Classroom

Via ProfHackerProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://ift.tt/2gdcvqe

I’m one of those humanities professors who is increasingly introducing technology-intensive assignments and activities into what would otherwise be more conventional, analog courses on writing and literature. And if you teach a large or largish class that involves in-class, hands-on work with digital tools, you would do well to come up with teaching strategies appropriate for that particular situation.

I recently stumbled across a very useful post from Miriam Posner about this very topic: “A better way to teach technical skills to a group.” Posner describes an all-too-common scenario for workshops that involve introducing participants to new and unfamiliar technologies:

The instructor issues directions while students try to keep up at each step. Some students accomplish each step quickly, but some students take a little longer to find the right menu item or remember where they’ve saved a file. No matter how often you tell students to please interrupt or raise a hand if they need help, most students won’t do this. They don’t want to slow everyone else down with what they’re sure is a stupid question. Eventually, these students stop trying to follow along, and the workshop becomes, in their minds, further evidence that they’re not cut out for this.

Posner writes that after trying a variety of possible solutions to this problem, she finally decided to take advantage of the “detailed, illustrated tutorials” she was already creating anyway and have her students go through the tutorials together in small groups. In this way, she writes, students can pace themselves without worrying about how far along the rest of the class is, and they can quietly ask questions of the others in their small group instead of raising their hands in front of the entire class.

But wait! There’s more!

The final missing piece was Post-It notes, a strategy I borrowed from Deb Verhoeven. (Thanks, Deb!) Every student starts with a green Post-It note on her laptop. That means everything’s OK. Run into a problem that they need me for? Swap it out for red. Finished? Swap it out for white.

I haven’t had a chance yet to give this technique a try, but I plan to experiment with it in future courses.

What are your favorite in-cass teaching strategies for introducing students to unfamiliar digital activities? Please share in the comments.

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by Karen Chappell]

Schooling the Platform Society – DML Central

Ideas about platform society and platform capitalism raise significant issues for education, and for schools specifically. As platform companies are increasingly penetrating into the education system, they are seeking to fundamentally reorganize education institutions and practices of teaching and learning according to the in-built mechanisms and architectures of the platforms themselves. We are used to thinking of schools as built architectures. In a platform society, schooling looks set to take place within technical architectures too, but the consequences of this reconfiguration of schools have yet to be studied or understood.

Source: Schooling the Platform Society – DML Central

Rethinking the Discourses of Higher Education Innovation

Via Inside Higher Ed: http://ift.tt/2cIuh5I


Anyone who reads the vast, rapidly expanding literature on innovation in higher education will be struck by the pervasiveness of certain discourses and tropes.  Three stand out.

The Discourse of Crisis
This gloom and doom viewpoint regards the current system of higher education as broken and warns that many existing institutions are at risk due to escalating costs that have resulted from administrative bloat, country club amenities, easy access to government-funded financial aid, and a single-minded focus on institutional prestige, as well as declining per student funding by state legislatures and stagnating federal research expenditures.

The Discourse of Disruption
This is the Clayton Christiansen-inspired perspective that higher education is ripe for radical transformation, as traditional colleges and universities, for the first time, face serious competition not just from for-profits, which are under siege, but from rapidly expanding dual degree programs, low-cost online programs (like Arizona State’s Global Freshman Academy), and Alt-Ed providers like General Assembly that are gradually displacing existing Master’s programs. In Christiansen’s view, acceptable but lower-cost models – even those that offer inferior quality – gradually acquire a growing market share, undermining incumbent institutions.

The Discourse of Techno-Transformation
This is the techo booster claim that a revolution in technology – especially the rise of personalized, adaptive courseware — will radically transform education, offering better ways to deliver learning at lower cost with no diminution in quality.

The proponents of innovation are certainly right on one point:  Higher education faces challenges that are real and inescapable.  These include:

  • A cost challenge – that middle-income families, in particular, are finding it more difficult to pay for college;
  • A completion challenge – that too many students fail to graduate and many of those who do take too long;
  • A student engagement challenge – that too much time dedicated to work or extracurricular activities has reduced time devoted to study;
  • An equity challenge – that funding for broad-access institutions, which serve the country’s most needy students, is substantially lower than at more selective institutions.
  • A business model challenge – as a result of declining per student public support, rising costs, and the erosion of the cross-subsidies that helped fund smaller upper division courses.   

But many of the points that the critics make are certainly overblown.  As Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman have persuasively shown, higher education’s financial challenges are rooted not in wasteful spending on prestige competition, luxury amenities, or bloated staffing, but in factors not susceptible to easy fixes, such as the costs of expert faculty, advanced technology, financial aid, and expanded student support services.

Even as institutions have sought to trim administrative expenses, improve financial management, and make procurement more efficient, costs inexorably rise.  This is due, largely to the increasing costs of plant maintenance and operations, health and retirement benefits, technology, and especially the non-faculty professionals who provide student services (including disabilities services, psychological services, career services, and advising) and who monitor compliance with various governmental mandates.

In addition, there is a sharp increase in spending on the research, grants, and contracting infrastructure, as institutions seek new sources of revenue from contract research, patents, grants, philanthropy, investment income, and auxiliary services.

In fact, many of the steps that hold out the greatest promise for improving graduation rates and time-to-degree will further increase costs, at least in the short run.  These include instituting:

  • Exploratory majors or meta majors to allow students to test their aptitude in certain broad fields of study without wasting credit hours.
  • e-Advising systems to help students select courses and majors, plan their schedule, and monitor their progress.
  • An enhanced data infrastructure to allow administrators to check, in near real time, on course availability and scheduling, curricular bottlenecks, courses with high failure rates, instructor variance in grading, and student profiles at risk of failure.
  • Expanding course availability through accelerated vacation courses, increased online options, and alternate approaches to course delivery, such as emporium models.
  • Financial incentives for timely graduation.
  • Block scheduling options for first year or working students.
  • Coaching models that provide students with a single points of contact for academic and non-academic support.
  • Care coordinators to help students navigate difficult transitions, such as transferring credits from other institutions or shifting majors.

What, then, can be done to address the innovation challenges and cost pressures that institutions face?

One proposed solution is a differentiated system of higher education, with distinct student profiles receiving an education better tailored to their needs, life circumstances, and aspirations.  In many respects, this trend is already taking place.  Better funded, more selective institutions are devoting more resources to experiential-, project-, and challenge-based learning, while less well-funded, broader access institutions, in particular, expend funds on remediation, competency-based models, and online instruction. The danger, of course, is a higher educational system that is even more stratified than it is today.

Another proposed solution: Increased funding for institutions that serve larger number of low-income students.  Government might provide financial incentives for those institutions that enroll and graduate large numbers of Pell Grant recipients, much as Title I of the Elementary and Secondary School Act provides funding to local school districts to improve the academic achievement of disadvantaged students.

A third approach, which might be particularly well-suited for broad-access institutions, is to devise more optimized, coherent curricula, with a greater emphasis on skills development (including a greater emphasis on writing skills and numeracy) and better alignment with workforce needs.  Such a learning model might also incorporate a more modular curriculum, making it easier for students to receive credit for prior learning, accelerating time to degree.

A fourth option focuses on better serving untapped markets.  In recent years, many institutions, in a bid to increase revenue, have aggressively pursued out-of-state and international students and have rapidly expanded master’s degree offerings.  But other potential markets remain largely underserved: These include adults with some college but no degree, working professionals who need want to enhance their skills or retool, and those who seek professional certifications but not a degree.

Steven Mintz is Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning and Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Rethinking the Discourses <br>of Higher Education Innovation

Free Technology for Teachers: 5 Common Classroom Blog Mistakes



5 Common Classroom Blog Mistakes

A classroom blog can be a powerful tool for improving communication with parents, for building a sense of community amongst your students, and for creating a record of what you and your students have learned throughout a school year. But you can only reap these benefits of classroom blogs if you maintain the blog and avoid some of the most common mistakes made in classroom blogging.

1. Making it optional:
If you make it optional for students and parents to visit the classroom blog, they’ll generally opt not to view it.

2. Inconsistency:
It is better to post once a week on the same day than it is to post three posts in one week and two the next and four the following week.

3. Lack of purpose:
I often hear people say, “I don’t know what we should blog about.” Without a defined purpose for a blog it is hard to come with ideas for individual blog posts. If you identify a purpose, “weekly reflections on learning” is a good purpose, you will find it easier to come up with topics for individual blog posts.

4. Not publicizing your blog:
You might be thinking, “but my blog is public, isn’t that enough?” In the old days of blogging, it probably was enough to just make your blog public. People weren’t distracted by social media networks on their phones and in their web browsers. Today, you need to remind people that your blog exists. Schedule your blog posts to be automatically Tweeted, shared on Facebook, and sent in email.
5. Leaving out the visuals:
Apply the old adage of, “a picture tells a thousand words” to your blog posts. Putting an image or two into every blog post helps to draw readers into your posts. If you don’t have a picture that exactly matches your blog post’s topic, create one in service like Canva.

I’ll be covering these topics and many more in my upcoming webinar series Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.

The technology of higher education

For nearly 30 years, pundits have predicted that education technology would disrupt higher education. Online courses will reduce costs and create unprecedented access to higher education, so the argument goes. Likewise, adaptive learning will improve — or replace — the art of teaching as the right digital content is delivered at the right time to each individual learner.

It’s looking increasingly like none of these are the game-changers we expected. While online learning is commonplace, higher education remains firmly in the crosshairs of critics targeting high tuition, student debt, poor completion rates and unemployed and underemployed graduates — demonstrating a growing skills gap.

But all is not lost. It may be that technology’s transformation of higher education lies not in the transformation of teaching and learning, but the advent of a new digital language that connects higher education and the labor market and, in so doing, exerts profound changes on both.

The historic disconnect between higher education and the needs of the labor market is a data problem. In the past, data translating the discrete skills or competencies that employers need was not easily available or meaningful to faculty who create courses, or the students who take them.

Meanwhile, hiring managers have consistently relied on signals supported by anecdotal evidence, at best — for example, assuming that philosophy majors from Brown made terrific analysts, or that teachers with master’s degrees performed better in the classroom.

Today, technology is changing the relationship between education and the workforce in four distinct ways.

First, competency data is becoming increasingly available. Online psychometric assessments, e-portfolios and micro-credentials are surfacing student competencies beneath the level of the terminal credential (i.e. degree). In addition, many colleges and universities are in the process of migrating to competency-based models, which will allow for the output of transcripts that better describe the competencies of graduates.

No longer will students fork over $200,000 in tuition for a standard four-year bundle.

Second, there is a clear path for employers to interact with this new data. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are incorporating analytics and will soon begin gathering new competency data as inputs for assembling candidate pools for human hiring managers to evaluate. As such, ATS is transitioning from a backwater of HR technology to Application Information Systems that will radically reduce the preponderance of false positives and false negatives in candidate pools, thereby significantly reducing bad hires that cost employers about $15,000 each, on average.

Third, this data is being extracted and parsed into competency statements by algorithms originally developed for purposes other than human capital development (i.e. search, e-commerce). On the other side, the same algorithms are extracting and parsing competency statements from job descriptions, then matching the two.

Of course, regardless of the caliber of student competency data, matching students with jobs only works if employers’ job descriptions accurately capture and describe key competencies. So the fourth major development is the advent of “People Analytics” technologies, allowing employers to track employee performance with a feedback loop to job descriptions. The result is that job descriptions continuously improve, moving from vague and data-poor to precise, data-rich renderings of the profiles of top performers.

Together, these four technological developments will close the gap between higher education and the labor market and usher in a new era in human capital.  The resulting “competency marketplaces” will help students understand the jobs and careers that they’re most likely to match and help employers identify students who are on track, or on a trajectory to match in the future.

Competency marketplaces will inform students’ direction through postsecondary education by providing a human capital GPS to help them select which credentials, courses, assessments, projects or virtual internships move them most efficiently and effectively toward target professions or employers.

The core of the competency marketplace is the candidate or student profile. Your profile will include your resume and transcript, along with badges, projects, the results of standardized tests taken over the course of your life (SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT) or new industry- or employer-specific micro-assessments. Students with more comprehensive profiles (i.e. more competency data) will be given preference by employers via the ATS. Colleges and universities that fail to recognize this may find that their students are at a relative disadvantage in the labor market and, over time, may face enrollment pressure.

The market for competencies will ultimately put unprecedented pressure on colleges and universities to unbundle the degree. As employers move to competency-based hiring, many will determine that degrees are not a priority — or even required for certain jobs. Over the next few years, degrees will become MIA in many job descriptions.

Unbundling doesn’t mean liberal arts will disappear. It may be that liberal arts courses provide high-value competencies that predict career success across many professions. But it does mean that revenue per student will decline, and that colleges and universities will need to work a lot harder and be a lot more creative to capture the lifetime value of student-consumers. No longer will students fork over $200,000 in tuition for a standard four-year bundle. Postsecondary education will become increasingly affordable. Completion rates will rise. Placement will improve.  This is how technology will ultimately disrupt higher education.

While this seems like the stuff of science fiction, it is not far off. Millions of new job descriptions are posted online every month. Colleges and universities are issuing millions of micro-credentials, millions of students are posting work in e-portfolios. Thousands of employers use Applicant Tracking Systems that are transitioning to Applicant Information Systems.

As the new language of competencies disrupts higher education, we will need to be vigilant to protect the central role that our colleges and universities play in civil society and economic development. At the same time, colleges and universities must take no comfort in the fact that prior predictions of technological disruption have proven false. This time really is different.

Featured Image: Andrea Danti/Shutterstock

from TechCrunch http://ift.tt/2912SGJ

3D Printing in the Classroom: Outcomes and Reflections on a Slavic Course Experiment (1/2) | Scholars’ Lab

Cross-posted on my personal blog. In a previous post, UVA’s Slavic Librarian, Kathleen Thompson, and Slavic Lecturer, Jill Martiniuk, outlined the early

Source: 3D Printing in the Classroom: Outcomes and Reflections on a Slavic Course Experiment (1/2) | Scholars’ Lab