But more technology doesn’t always mean better results. Within K-12 learning environments, the digital divide means that students in low-income and rural households have less access to reliable internet and fewer connected deviceson which to complete the online portions of their homework. And while Pearson’s initiative applies only to textbooks in higher ed, the shift to digital has implications at the collegiate level as well.
Just as traditional software has a thriving open source community, textbooks have Open Educational Resources, complete textbooks that typically come free of charge digitally, or for a small fee—enough to cover the printing—in hard copy. And while it’s not an entirely new concept, OER has gained momentum in recent years, particularly as support has picked up at an institutional level, rather than on a course by course basis. According to a 2018 Babson College survey, faculty awareness of OER jumped from 34 percent to 46 percent since 2015.
One of OER’s leading proponents is OpenStax, a nonprofit based out of Rice University that offers a few dozen free textbooks, covering everything from AP Biology to Principles of Accounting. In the 2019–2020 academic year, 2.7 million students across 6,600 institutions used an OpenStax product instead of a for-profit equivalent.
The knock against OER is that, well, you get what you pay for. “One faculty member told me only half-jokingly, that OER is like a puppy that’s free. You get the free puppy, but then you have to do all the work,” says Cengage’s Hansen, who argues that traditional publishers provide critical supporting materials, like assessment questions, that OER often lacks, and can push more regular updates.
By virtue of being free, OER materials also heavily skew toward digital, with hardcover as a secondary option. (Or you can download the PDF and print it out yourself.) The same caveats about efficacy apply. But at least OER doesn’t lock you into one digital platform, the way the major publishers do. OpenStax alone counts around 50 ecosystem partners to provide homework and testing support.
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Or you could always split the difference.
That’s the territory Cengage wants to stake out. Late last summer, the educational publishing behemoth—it announced a planned merger with McGraw Hill in May; the combined company would surpass all but Pearson in market capitalization—rolled out Cengage Unlimited, a “Netflix for Textbooks” model that rolls all textbook rentals and digital platform access into a single rate: $120 for a semester, $180 for a full year, or $240 for two years. Almost a year in, the US-only program has a million subscribers.
Flipgrid is a free service that you can use to post prompts for your students to respond to with short videos that they record through their laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, or phones. Your prompts and your students’ replies can be kept private or you can make them public. a complete set of Flipgrid tutorial videos available here.
Faced with increasingly complex communication technologies—voice, video, multimedia, animation—university faculty, expert in their own disciplines, find themselves technically perplexed, largely unprepared to build digital courses.
instructional designers, long employed by industry, joined online academic teams, working closely with faculty to upload and integrate interactive and engaging content.
nstructional designers, as part of their skillset, turned to digital authoring systems, software introduced to stimulate engagement, encouraging virtual students to interface actively with digital materials, often by tapping at a keyboard or touching the screen as in a video game. Most authoring software also integrates assessment tools, testing learning outcomes.
With authoring software, instructional designers can steer online students through a mixtape of digital content—videos, graphs, weblinks, PDFs, drag-and-drop activities, PowerPoint slides, quizzes, survey tools and so on. Some of the systems also offer video editing, recording and screen downloading options
As with a pinwheel set in motion, insights from many disciplines—artificial intelligence, cognitive science, linguistics, educational psychology and data analytics—have come together to form a relatively new field known as learning science, propelling advances in a new personalized practice—adaptive learning.
Of the top providers, Coursera, the Wall Street-financed company that grew out of the Stanford breakthrough, is the champion with 37 million learners, followed by edX, an MIT-Harvard joint venture, with 18 million. Launched in 2013, XuetangX, the Chinese platform in third place, claims 18 million.
Former Yale President Rick Levin, who served as Coursera’s CEO for a few years, speaking by phone last week, was optimistic about the role MOOCs will play in the digital economy. “The biggest surprise,” Levin argued, “is how strongly MOOCs have been accepted in the corporate world to up-skill employees, especially as the workforce is being transformed by job displacement. It’s the right time for MOOCs to play a major role.”
In virtual education, pedagogy, not technology, drives the metamorphosis from absence to presence, illusion into reality. Skilled online instruction that introduces peer-to-peer learning, virtual teamwork and other pedagogical innovations stimulate active learning. Online learning is not just another edtech product, but an innovative teaching practice. It’s a mistake to think of digital education merely as a device you switch on and off like a garage door.
Goldie Blumenstyk, called it the “embedded for-profit university” because there’s all these different for-profits operations within a nonprofit higher-ed institution.
One of the MOOC founders who said five years later, well MOOCs have failed as an educational experiment. And my comment to that was, they never were an educational experiment.
Anya Kamenetz called “DIY U” people cobbling together an education from various sources
And we are in a world of multiple new models. The work I’ve done in the last 20 years in online or technologically enhanced learning suggests that fewer than 10 percent of the people who are learners are able to self-direct—or really more like 4 percent.
It’s much more likely that students will get lit up by learning if they come in for office hours and they present a very imperfect argument and the teacher says, the mentor says, that’s not really right. That’s not really where it should be, but come back again. Come back here again. I’ll be here for you again.
So many faculty are kind of going in the opposite direction or saying we’re putting things online and you can take the course online.
definition flipped classroom
In a flipped classroom the idea is the students are learning the technical material at home and then the classroom time is designed to be about discussion of the material and questions about the material.
part of the narrative of a flipped classroom is that it’s somehow responding to a crisis of a deadened classroom instead of an enlivened classroom and that isn’t necessarily true.
an open laptop or an open iPad opens up a kind of cone of silence and attentional disarray around itself because students’ attention has sort of been taken by the open device.
We’re not using the technology really the way we should. And I think that education is a tough case because so much has been pitched and so much has been sold. Schools have been told that this is the future, and parents are told that this is the future. Actually, it’s not clear, it’s not clear how much of this is the future and how much some of this is just our feeling
Open Textbook Webinar — a 90-minute online meeting to learn about open textbooks.
Peer review of open textbooks is a critical component of assessing quality and supporting faculty looking for resources to use in their own classes. After the workshop, you’ll be eligible to earn a $200 stipend if you provide a short review of an open textbook from the OpenTextbook Library. Reviews are due 6-8 weeks following the workshop.
To prepare for the webinar, please take a few minutes and visit the Open Textbook Library (http://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/). Glance through the Open Textbook Library and look for textbooks in your discipline that may be appropriate for you to review. In order to receive the $200 stipend, you must 1) participate in the webinar and 2) complete a textbook review. (Please note: There may not be texts available for review in your areas of expertise.)
When:Wednesday, November 14, 2018; 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Note that additional Open Textbook Webinars are scheduled throughout the academic year. Please contact Karen Pikula, OER Faculty Development Coordinator, at Karen.Pikula@minnstate.edu if you cannot attend the meeting on Monday.
An interactive discussion on MOOCs, online learning, and the goal of 100 million learners by 2022
The Future Trends Forum welcomes
Anant Agarwal , the founder and CEO of edX, a non-profit venture created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies.
He aims to help bring quality education to everyone, everywhere. Anant has also been a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT for 30 years.
documented here how educators use Trello to manage project-based learning activities that involve group work and peer review.
Slack has been described as “ a private Twitter on steroids.” At first glance, the tool looks like a chat room—but it’s got more going on inside.
Like Twitter, Slack features hashtags that denote specific “channels” dedicated to topics, but each channel operates like its own chat room. Users can send messages to a channel or directly to one another (one-to-one), and also create private groups for focused discussions (one-to-few).
connected Trello to Slack so that he receives a notification whenever his students make edits on a Trello card. He turns to Slack to communicate directly with students and groups, often leaving feedback on assignments. “It hasn’t been effective as a way to broadcast information to the entire class,” Green admits. “But it’s become a very important tool for us to share resources for kids, and have 1-on-1 conversations with students.”
Other educators are exploring how to use Slack as a professional learning network.