Back home in Richmond, VA tonight, but my brain is still buzzing from the excellent sessions and networking at ELI 2011. My post on the first day of ELI 2011 is here.
David Wiley kicked off the second day with a keynote address on Open Educational Resources and Learning Analytics. Wiley noted that “open” carried many connotations, so he defined it as free teaching materials with the permissions already given for re-use or re-mixing. He discussed the “Four R’s” of education – Reuse, Redistribute, Revise and Remix. To illustrate, he went into advanced search in Google and looked for items with Creative Commons licensing, and found over 350 million items. He compared this to our out-dated legal system that allows us to be stingy on a scale never seen before. There were chuckles as he compared academics who do not want to share with your basic 2-year-old yelling MINE, MINE, MINE. From David’s perspective, openness is the ONLY way to do education.
If one shifts the higher education model away from “you must come to us for the learning” and instead acknowledge that the content is already out there, then new business models are possible. David mentioned Western Governors University and the new University of the People, where students sign up and pay for assesments, but self-organize their own learning groups. This would not work for all disciplines, but I could see some real advantages to programs where demonstrated performance is part of the assessment.
The real “ah-ha” moment for me was when David began discussing learning analytics. We are all used to analytics. If we buy a book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble online, we always see recommendations for other purchases…based on tracking tons of data of previous purchases. In a similar manner, David demonstrated how he could look at data for a class and track online activity versus time and GPA ranking. The resulting waterfall of dots was darker for students with higher GPAs (i.e., more time on task online) and lighter for lower GPAs. Getting to that type of data is difficult for most faculty, but as the latest Horizon Report noted yesterday, learning analytics are on the horizon. Increased use of learning analytics will allow for the customization of learning for each student…something I find pretty cool! For David, the combination of open education resources and learning analytics can lead to processes that allow continuous improvement in teaching and learning.
ELI used IdeaScale to gather and rank questions for David. This was an interesting use of crowdsourcing to set up the Q&A portion of his talk. One person asked if computers were replacing teachers. David said YES – replacing them as broadcast machines and allowing them to concentrate on the human side of teaching.
The next session I attended was with Cole Camplese and Barton Pursel of Penn State on Exposing Emerging Pedagogies: Can Web 2.0 Tools Influence Teaching and Learning? In another example of learning analytics, they looked at usage patterns of wikis and blogs at their university by schools and departments. They noted that their students have expectations not being met by the university. Students expect a Facebook-like level of interactivity and get Blackboard instead…which is by just about any measure pretty unengaging. The Penn State dorms have cable TV but the data shows that it gets little use. Instead, students watch their “TV” on their computers when they want to watch it (not when it is “on”).
The data showed them that schools tended to adopt single platforms and not the range of Web 2.0 tools. Information tech students like wikis, but science majors like blogs. They could also see gender differences surfacing. Women were more active both in posting and in commenting, including continued conversation after semester’s end. Some courses found greater traction using a course-wide blog rather than individual blogs, though I agree with Gardner’s tweet:
After all, Jeff Nugent and I have both had our students blog individually and then aggregate the class blogs into either Netvibes or Google Sites.
I took a break and hit the “power room” to recharge my laptop. Luckily, Jim Groom, Matt Plourde and Mike Caulfield were hanging out there as well. We talked about Jim’s current MOOC on Digital Storytelling – ds106 (worth following on Twitter under hashtag #ds106 for great examples of student work). That led us to recall one of the better storytellers – Tom Woodward, and the video he and Jim did two years ago about RSS. I have put a link to that video in my current class for this week’s readings on RSS!
After lunch, I attended a session by Paul Fisher and Danielle Mirliss from Seton Hall University on supporting a mobile campus. Seton Hall has been issuing laptops for years but now recognizes that the vast majority of students show up with computers in their back pockets (smartphones) with capabilities that exceed those of the older laptops. Their surveys show that while faculty heavily rely on email as a ways of communicating with students, 60% of their students do not routinely use email – they text or Facebook instead. The folks at Seton Hall University are looking for ways to capitalize on the technology their students already possess and use. The definition of “mobile” is changing and evolving, so they want applications that are device non-specific and carrier agnostic. They showed some neat projects students completed this year using smartphones to capture video and audio (similar to the NPR StoryCorps project). While this was going on, there was a fairly active backchannel conversation about the original “mobile” devices – books! That prodded Derek Bruff to post “Here’s my (tongue-in-cheek) take on the book as a mobile device: http://is.gd/vRuuY6“. Loved it!
Dinner Tuesday night was in an unexpected yet delightful place that many of my colleagues knew…but my wife and I just stumbled on – Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe. Good people, good food, and some nice wines. Plus I checked in using FourSquare to note our good time, and they tweeted back a thank you! Good food and socially networked as well!
Today was spent at our poster session. I previously posted our slides here. Valerie Robnolt, Ibironke Lawal, Alma Hassell and I had a good flow of people come by and talk, and we had a chance to circulate around to some of the other posters. Our colleagues Terry Carter, Joan Rhodes, and Fran Smith had a poster on moving learners into the open, so VCU was well represented. I also enjoyed talking to Linda Futch and Francisca Yonekura of University of Central Florida about their online faculty development process. And I finally got to meet Kelvin Thompson of UCF…someone whom I have tweeted with for several years!
So, a wrap up of a very good conference! I know that I have missed some interactions in these two blog posts, but rest assured, it is not because these interactions were not important. Rather, there simply was a lot to process…and I will be doing that for days!