Blackboard recently posted to its blog about how successful students use LMS tools that are available to them. The interesting part of their study is the most consistent predictor of student success. According to John Whitmer:
The most consistent predictor of student achievement was how frequently a student looked at their grades; this surprised me given that other tools (like assessments) directly and tangibly influence a student’s grade. This is an independent behavioral measure and yet is a very strong predictor.
The most successful students are those who access MyGrades most frequently; students doing poorly do not access their grades. Students who never access their grades are more likely to fail than students who access them at least once. There is a direct relationship at every quartile of use – and at the risk of spoiling results for the other tools, this is the only tool for which this direct trend exists. It appears that students in the middle range of grades aren’t impacted by their use of the tool.
This finding suggests that to change student outcomes, we need to use proactive intervention strategies. Examples include grade notifications within the Activity stream of Blackboard Learn with the Ultra experience, or the alerts provided by Blackboard Predict.
Starting August 29, MIT will be offering “Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness,” through its edX portal with a new twist. Students who pay $300 for the “verified certificate” program will have their work reviewed by “professional philosophers.” Without a “verified certificate,” the course is free.
“Listening to lectures and reading books is great, but philosophy is all about taking complex ideas and organizing them in a simple way. You learn by writing, specifically writing to someone,” said Caspar Hare, an MIT philosophy teacher who will lead the MOOC for its third iteration.
When Bill Ballhaus took over the helm at Blackboard many were openly willing to give him some advice. Michael Feldstein said Blackboard was facing issues with customers who were “increasingly unhappy with the support they are getting on the current platform,” who were “unclear about how they will be affected by future development plans,” and who are “unconvinced that Blackboard will deliver a next-generation product in the near future that will be a compelling alternative to the competitors in the market.” While Joshua Kim at Inside Higher Ed said he should “bet the company on analytics.”
Now Campus Technology has set down with Ballhaus for an interview. The interview is available here.
The 2015 Survey of Online Learning conducted by Babson Survey Research Group has been released. This is their 13th annual report on online learning. This year’s survey and report was co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, StudyPortals, WCET, and Tyton Partners. Babson’s reports have become known as the “leading barometer of online learning in the United States.” (Previous reports are available here for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007)
Lou Pugliese, Founding CEO of Blackboard and currently Chairman and CEO of Moodlerooms, recently published an article at EDUCAUSE.edu on the future of the Learning Management System (LMS). The article is about LMS 3.0 or the Demand Design LMS. This represents the move from avendor supply-side orientation to a user demand-side focus. As Pugliese puts it:
In an LMS 3.0 world, driving more effective, pervasive, and consistent academic achievement will be accomplished by transforming LMS platforms into learning solutions ecosystems. In this new LMS environment, a faculty member is a learning architect (the future) as opposed to a learning manager (the present). The LMS 3.0 world will adapt to the art of teaching as opposed to faculty having to adapt to a particular technology. Content used for enrichment as well as remediation can be subscribed and syndicated to student learning profiles in ways we cannot accomplish today. In the new LMS world, institutions will be able to shape the component architecture to the individual needs of the program, course, or learner. The new LMS world will flip the traditional equation, transforming the LMS from a vendor supply-side orientation to a user demand-side focus.
Pugliese writes that the LMS 3.0 would have several “essential components” including:
Learning Grids: “organized communities in specific subject and learning objective groups that encourage creation, sharing, and interdependencies”
E-Learning Intelligence: “LMS 3.0 design transforms static data reporting into a learning transaction system, transitioning from a management system to a source for real-time data about academic activity, student behavior, and engagement.”
Content Clouds: “LMS 3.0 design expands functionality to include open, flexible digital repositories with components that add context through outcomes measurement, social curation, reporting, analytics, and extensive sharing capabilities.”
Open Architecture: “LMS 3.0 is built on a foundation of openness. In a world where “open” is a term that of late has been used with wide creative license, LMS open architecture is built with and broadly supports widely usable interoperability protocols and standards, open-source applications, open identification, and open digital rights.”
Pugliese provides an interesting look at the future of the LMS from someone who has been deeply involved in it from the start.
Bigatel, Paula, and Vicki Williams, “Measuring Student Engagement In An Online Program.” In Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, vol. 18, no. 2 (Summer 2015).
Abstract: In an effort to measure the effectiveness of faculty development courses promoting student engagement, the faculty development unit of Penn State’s Online Campus conducted a pilot study within a large online Bachelor of Science in Business (BSB) program. In all, 2,296 students were surveyed in the spring and summer semesters of 2014 in order to seek their perspectives on (1) the extent of their engagement in the courses and (2) the degree to which their instructors promoted their engagement. The survey comprised three sub-scales: the first and third sub-scales addressed instructional design aspects of the course, and the second sub-scale addressed attitudes and behaviors whereby the instructors promoted student engagement. The results showed a significant difference on the second sub-scale (sig = 0.003) at the .05 level, indicating that students rated instructors with professional development higher on instructor behaviors that engaged them in their courses than those instructors who received no professional development. There were no significant differences found for the first and third sub-scales indicating that the instructional design aspects of the courses under investigation were not influenced by instructors’ professional development. Qualitative data showed that three quarters of the students who had instructors whose background included professional development geared to encouraging student engagement felt that their courses had engaged them. Future research will focus on increasing the response rate and exploring in more depth both the instructional design and qualitative aspects of student engagement.
Here are some examples of different kinds of peer facilitation prompts that can be used for online discussions. (Obviously these prompts can be used by the instructor as well.)
Example: What is the name of this theory . . .?
Giving Direct Instruction
Example: I think in class we mentioned that . . .
Example: I was once able to solve this sort of problem once when I . . .
Example: Wow, I’m impressed . . .
Providing cognitive task structuring
Example: You know, the task asks you to do . . .
Asking for cognitive elaborations
Example: Provide more information here that explains your rationale.
Example: You might want to write to professor Smith for . . .
Example: Restate again what the scientist did here.
Example: What was the problem-solving process the professor faced here?
Giving general advice
Example: If I was faced with this situation, I would . . .
These examples were adapted from Bonk, Curtis J., and K. A. Kim. “Extending Sociocultural Theory to Adult Learning.” In Smith, M. C., and T. Pourchot, eds., Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology, pp. 67-88. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1998.
Dunlap, Joanne C. “Protocols for Online Discussions.” In Lowenthal, Patrick R., et al., The CU Online Handbook, 101-105.
Joanna C. Dunlap outlines 9 different ways in which you can utilize discussion forums in an online course. Some of formats are designed for asynchronous communication while others are designed for synchronous session. The 9 ways she addresses are:
The Final Post
The Last Post
Posting the Crux of the Matter
Chatroom of Voices
Chatroom Full of Voices
Dunlap bases these formats on the work of Brookfield and Preskill (Discussion As A Way of Teaching) and McDonald, et al. (The Power of Protocols: An Educator’s Guide to Better Practice).