Recently in Learning platform Category

Some of you might already have been using Google hangout, the online face-to-face chatting tool.

I think Google hangout can be used as a live online teaching/learning tool because you can present learning content to others while discussing online.

Note that you can chat with up to 9 people in Google hangout, though. So Google hangout may be better for small group discussions than whole class lecturing.

There are two ways in which you can present your content (for example, ppt slides) in Google hangout. You can share your screen itself or share slides using SlideShare app.

First, sharing screen is simple. When you start Google hangout, you can see 'Chat', 'Invite', 'App' and 'Screenshare' in the menu bar.

By clicking 'Screenshare', you can choose and share your computer screen with the people you invite. Whatever you have in your computer screen including power point slides and Youtube video will be on your friends or students' screens, too.

Below is the screenshot image of sharing a computer screen in the Google hangout. You can see a Youtube video is being played in the screen.

Google+ Hangouts-2.jpg

And if you want to use SlideShare app, you need to first upload your slides into SlideShare. Then after starting google hangout, click 'App' menu then choose 'SlideShare' app. And you need to search and select the presentation slides you uploaded to share with others.

Below is a screenshot image of using SlideShare app in Google hangout.

Google+ Hangouts-1.jpg

Visit here for more information for using SlideShare in Google hangout.

How to share your content with public

Do you have good content you want to share with public? Or do you want to create a podcast?

University of Minnesota provides members of the University a good podcasting tool with which they can share their content with public. That is University of Minnesota Public iTunes U.

If you are interested, please download and read a manual explaining the required process.

If you have any question on the process, please fill out the technical support request form.

Adding a face & voice to online learning

Who says online learning has to be impersonal, detached and a lonely endeavor? Who says online classes are about staring at a screen full of content with minimum interaction with course mates?

Many faculty members are challenging these misconceptions by incorporating technology in their online classes as well as harnessing the capabilities of web 2.0 to increase student engagement and boost online student retention rates. A few faculty members at Lexington Theological Seminary are no exception. Several faculty members at the seminary have introduced technology into its online classes that allows students and faculty to interact via video and audio, as reported in an article by Campus Technology. Known as the MegaMeeting, the program lets instructors show PowerPoint slides, post questions to students on a noteboard application, teach using audio in addition to supporting text chat features.

MegaMeeting's potential for building a sense of community among online students who would otherwise never meet face-to-face is great. Instructors are able to set up virtual rooms (not unlike virtual chat rooms) that are available 24/7 so that students can meet with one another to collaborate on group projects and work on their assignments. One of the faculty members who have been using MegaMeeting said one of the advantages of this program is its ability to let students see the professor and vice versa, which is not (yet) too common in other online programs. In addition, the audio and video features of this program allow students to discuss articles and readings as well as ask questions during lesson time. In typical online courses, students would likely have to do that via emails.

Lexington Theological Seminary has already set up several online communities in its learning management system, which allows students to communication freely with one another about courses and professors without staff intervention. These online communities are Lexington's efforts to foster relationship-building amongst its online learners. However, the method of combining video and audio, and using the program's applications to its fullest in the classroom has enabled faculty members to bring this relationship to a whole new level.

Individualized e-learning by data mining

Boy with laptop computer.jpg

Have you ever wondered how Google, Facebook, or Amazon recommends you something or show online ads that are very close to your interests? As many people know, these online services heavily gather and analyze user data including previous visited websites, friends network, keywords entered, and so on. With the data, they customize user experience accommodating each user's interest and need. This is how they make money.

If commercial services can do it, why not higher education? Similar efforts are emerging in higher education, especially in an e-learning field. According to a news report from Inside Higher ED, the University of Phoenix, a big for-profit higher education institution, announced at the 2010 Educause conference their ambitious "Learning Genome Project", which they hope to revolutionize online learning by individualization.

According to Angie McQuaig, director of data innovation at the University of Phoenix, the Learning Genome Project is "building a new learning management system (or LMS) that gets to know each of its 400,000 students personally (i.e., infer students' details from their behaviors in the online classroom) and adapts to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of their learning DNA."

For example, if students learn better from watching a video than reading a text, the system will feed them more videos. If a student is bad at interpreting graphs, the system will recognize that and present information accordingly.

While it sounds great, the project is just a conceptual framework for now. However, if the project comes to true, it may provide significant benefit to students and may be better than traditional offline learning in terms of accommodating individual differences. It is very difficult for instructors to meet individuals' different learning styles in an offline class of 20 to 30 students.

There are, of course, challenges. First, it would be very expensive and difficult to build the learning management system. Second, the privacy issue will be huge. One could imagine how people would worry about and want to protect their personal data. McQuaig later said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the University of Phoenix will let students choose how much information they submit to the system.

Despite these challenges, it seems that some other higher education institutions will follow the University of Phoenix in order to enhance their online learning and student success. In a near future, we may be able to see individualized e-learning become popular and its impact on educational achievement.

Purdue releases course management and retention tool

Purdue University, in partnership with SunGuard Higher Education is releasing a course management system called Signals. Signals was initially tested at Purdue and developed by its associate vice president of Academic Technologies, John Campbell. Like other course management software, it provides space for electronic grading and disseminating course materials, but Signals goes further. Signals is a student retention program, designed to designate struggling students early on in courses, allowing instructors and other academic resources to reach out and provide support.

Signals works by allowing both students and professors to monitor progress and success in a certain course. Color-coded signals--red, yellow, and green like stoplights--indicate a student's risk level for failing the course. The students see these signs whenever they log onto the course's website. Depending on the signal, it offers suggestions and resources. For example, a student doing poorly in chemistry might be reminded by the program of a tutoring program available for schools. The program also reminds professors of their students' progress and gives them options to offer help and insight. For examples of how Signals works, check out this presentation. In addition to the information professors input like grades, Signals also has access to previous student information and grades. It also integrates into existing BlackBoard technology.

In this new story on the software, one professor with 900 students over three lectures praised the software, particularly it's early detection. Signals starts tracking students by the second week of class. Often professors must wait for the first major assignment to realize a student is behind. Overall, professors at Purdue have praised the program. It will be exciting to see how other universities integrate this product, especially with the University of Phoenix moving towards personalized course management (check out TEL Blogger Michelle's post about that here!).

For more information on Signals' release, check out these new stories:
NBC Nightly News Report
"Signals" help studnts stay on track

Want to help students succeed? The answer can be found online.

Start a Home Tutoring Business – The Right Time, The Right Industry.jpgOnline learning resources can potentially be the missing link needed to ensure the success of students, asserts Mark Milliron in The Chronicle. Milliron points out that one of the fastest growing segment of higher education today are non-traditional students such as adult learners and part-time students, among others. Traditional classroom methods aimed at traditional students will not work as well for these students who require more flexibility and convenience to manage their work-study-life commitments. Institutions' teaching methods need to evolve and make full use of the online resources at their disposal (or in the market).

In order to help non-traditional students stay in the program, sometimes the solution can be as simple as adding an online section or online component to the course, which can significantly increase the likelihood of success for a working student or parent. This is because having an online alternative to traditional face-to-face courses can help remove barriers that allow students to complete degrees in a time that best fits their schedules. Other tools such as online-learning-management systems can help students improve their academic performance. For instance, Signals project, which is a program that detects early warning signs in the students' academic performance and provides early intervention can help students succeed at higher rates. The program works by giving up-to-the-minute, predictive-model-based feedback in the form of traffic lights--red, yellow, and green, which lets students know how they are performing in a course before it is too late. Some institutions have turned to online student-service support systems such as Atlas/Life map, which is a system that keeps students on track academically, to ensure that they graduate on time. This system was such a hit with students that the institution which implemented it went on to see their graduation rate (almost) triple that of its peer institutions.

Online learning systems can not only help students complete courses, especially gatekeeper courses, and succeed in them, but may sometimes even help those students outperform their peers who took the same courses the traditional way. In fact, a 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that students who took all or part of their classes online performed better than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction, as reported in another article in The Chronicle. In addition to the opportunities for meeting learner needs, the ability to attract new students also is great, said The Chronicle. Institutions such as Central Penn have seen a substantial increase of 97% (average) in new student enrollments per term after implementing the Blackboard Learn system. The above results are hardly surprising since online learning systems and tools can provide a rich and supportive learning experience for students, which has allowed online education to meet the needs of so many students.

Unlocking the secrets of the "learning DNA"

driessen.jpgUniversity of Phoenix, in its effort to unlock the secrets of the "learning DNA", is building a new learning interface that aims to get to know each of its students personally, as reported in Inside Higher Ed. The goal of this learning platform is to deliver a customized learning experience for students by adapting to the idiosyncrasies of students' learning habits and style. Ambitiously dubbed the "Learning Genome Project," The University of Phoenix draws its inspiration from Facebook's ability to revolutionize web advertising through the use of web analytics.

Similar to Facebook, Phoenix's new learning platform will be designed to infer details about students from how they behave in the online classroom and adapt to the student's learning style. Lesson content will be delivered in a way that helps students learn best. If the student encounters a problem with his/her assignment, the platform can help connect the student to a fellow classmate who could be of assistance. In a way, this learning platform may well spell the end of the one-size-fits all model of education.

The University of Phoenix is definitely not alone in its endeavor. Other institutions are also trying to incorporate some of the principles that have made Facebook and Netflix so successful in their own learning management systems. However, as rightfully pointed out in the article, there are still some concerns that need to be ironed out such as cost of producing and maintaining this system since it requires a lot of data collection and processing. Another issue that is perhaps more troubling is the issue of privacy.

Due to the recent media attention on cyber-bullying and privacy issues related to social networks, users of social networks are more cautious and careful about the type of information they put out online. Furthermore, as institutions become aware of online privacy concerns, many have taken steps to help students navigate social networks safely such as providing counseling on online privacy and some institutions even have a policy on student use of social media. Hence, the idea that a learning platform will monitor a students' behavior and habits in their virtual classroom as well as their interests will undoubtedly make some people feel uncomfortable.

Learning platform: Great resource tool for online learners

Great technology tool to help students stay organized and keep track of their classes and progress as well as manage their busy schedules. Students can access itunes U, student discussion boards, professor contact information and library materials.

This is a wonderful tool to use especially if you are not on campus. You can access the learning platform from anywhere with an internet connection. In fact, with its rich features, you can access almost every necessary resources you may need as a student without ever having to leave the comfort of your home or coffee shop or where ever else you may be!

Online students use the learning platform all the time to stay in touch with professors, interact with fellow course mates, download course materials and upload assignments and keep track of their academic progress.

Faculty tech selector: how-to and why you should use it.

The Faculty Technology Selector is a tool that makes it easy for instructors to share online and digital resources with students in myU.

Lois Eaton, an instructor in the Kinesiology department shares her experiences with the tech selector. She uploaded videos onto the portal and students can view it at their leisure instead of having to check out the lecture video from the library. Instructors can easily associate websites, electronic media, wiki and class messages with each class they are teaching.

Completely sold on this idea but do not know how to use the technology selector? This video provides a step-by-step guide to use the selector.

Discover myU

Instead of having to click through several links just to pay tuition or have several programs running on your computer at the same time to help you keep track of emails, schedules, deadlines, myU is a one-stop website that helps you manage your busy life as a student.

You can manage all your classes, find exact locations on the map, keep abreast of latest events, search for opportunities to volunteer, keep track of your schedules/calendar, download transcripts, pay tuition fees and manage emails all on 1 website - myU.

myU learning platform also enables students to share information, exchange tips and advice, ask questions and get answers from fellow course mates.

Gartner: E-learning Market Pushing Toward Open Source

Campus Technology online reports on a Gartner study indicating that Open Source e-learning/course management systems such as Moodle and Sakai are gaining ground on commercial systems. Part of this is attributed to the uncertainty created by the Blackboard lawsuit against Desire2Learn.

Moodle available at the University of Minnesota

Moodle, the open-source course management software, is now being supported by the University of Minnesota through the Office of Information Technology (OIT). Moodle is an alternative to WebCT, and is being used at colleges and universities in the US and internationally. Currently at the University, there are about 362 courses using Moodle.

Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. It was first released three years ago by a development team in Perth, Australia. As open-source software, Moodle is continually being expanded and improved upon by a network of developers worldwide. Because it is modular, it is relatively easy to add new functionality or specific tools, and can be more customized than typical "out-of-the-box " software.

Any faculty member can use Moodle in their courses. Moodle provides many tools for collaboration and interaction between students and between the professor and students. See below for a list of features available in Moodle.
The University Technology Training Center offers short courses on Moodle. UTTC also has a resource page with useful links, downloadable help materials, and links to helpful print materials.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Learning platform category.

Engagement & participation is the previous category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.