Adapting student assessment to the needs of a digital age

In digital environments there is still not a clear answer about best practice or efficacy of assessments.  One thing we do know – digital environments require a different type of assessment and contextual lens through which to gauge meaning-making  .  But how do learning designers make decisions about effective and comprehensive assessments of understanding?  Every course is different – whether quantitative or qualitative.  In this article, Tony Bates shares his thoughts about assessment in the digital age.  “instructors should think about design through the lens of constructing a comprehensive learning environment in which teaching and learning will take place. I have been working through the various components of a learning environment, focusing particularly on how the digital age affects the way we need to look at some of these components.”

via Adapting student assessment to the needs of a digital age.

2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies

1/3 of faculty have taught an online class in the past year, and 62% of those faculty say that online learning will lead to pedagogical breakthroughs, according to a new study done by Educause.  Educause, a higher ed technology organization, is likely sharing information from its own member base who are all technology users – which is a subset of the total faculty population – but it is still very interesting.  Shared by Daniel Christian, here are some key findings.


“Faculty recognize that online learning opportunities can promote access to higher education but are more reserved in their expectations for online courses to improve outcomes.

Faculty interest in early-alert systems and intervention notifications is strong.

The majority of faculty are using basic features and functions of LMSs but recognize that these systems have much more potential to enhance teaching and learning.

Faculty think they could be more effective instructors if they were better skilled at integrating various kinds of technology into their courses.

Faculty recognize that mobile devices have the potential to enhance learning.”

via 2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies [Educause/ECAR].

These are the trends and challenges shaping online learning



It is interesting to see where online programs “live” in a school.  Sometimes each school within a University makes its own decisions and has its own faculty readiness program and expectations, but increasingly the decision making is being moved to one centralized location.  This infographic from Education Dive shares the results of a survey of 675 administrators, and depicts the online program roll out strategy that they found was most common.


These are the trends and challenges shaping online learning [Infographic] | Education Dive.

Academic Branding – Your Online Presence, By Design

Establishing an online presence as an academician increases dissemination of research and improves impact.  It also allows for discovery of others with similar interests, potential collaborations, and richer knowledge construction.  This is how PLNs are born and expanded.  The presentation below by Sidneyeve Matrix is full of excellent suggestions.


Social learning is not something you make other people do


People often ask how to make their workplace learning more social.  They set up space and make structure the environment, but it doesn’t happen.  It’s like asking the question “how do I make a video go viral?”   You just can’t force it.  Jane Hart offer the advice below.

You can’t just “add on“ a discussion space to an online course and expect people to be social

You can’t just “design in” social interaction into online courses and expect people to be social

You can’t force people to be social

You can’t enforce social interaction

You can’t equate social interactivity with learning

via Social learning is not something you make other people do | Learning in the Modern Workplace.

Higher education: Creative destruction

Higher education evolution, or Creative Destruction as this article calls it, typifies the tendency of costs to soar in industries where labor costs rise as productivity remains the same.  This article in the Economist was surprising in the way it combined MOOCs, which are not for credit – the only MOOC, at Georgia Tech, that is for-credit – and the ASU Online program, which is not a MOOC.  The author predicts a higher ed future of MOOCs, whereas I see them in their current form as an interim solution.  Nonetheless the virtual migration of a good deal of higher ed will most likely continue.  The victims, such as the small towns that rely on universities, will likely feel some pain.   “Whereas the prices of cars, computers and much else have fallen dramatically, universities, protected by public-sector funding and the premium employers place on degrees, have been able to charge ever more for the same service. For two decades the cost of going to college in America has risen by 1.6 percentage points more than inflation every year.”

via Higher education: Creative destruction | The Economist.

Unizin – Higher Ed’s Own Path to Scale

Unizin is a pro-active, offensive approach to pressure mounting inside higher education institutions.  It puts Universities in control, and lets them achieve economies of scale by joining together and sharing resources, costs of licenses, assets, services for infrastructure, and leveraging contracts through bargaining power with publishers and other content providers.  The founder of the group of institutions is Brad Wheeler, CIO of Indiana University, who had the vision and was able to execute the opportunity.  Higher Ed has always focused on independence, rather than interdependence, but that’s the path to scale, he states.  So far, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Colorado State, and University of Florida have officially joined (thanks Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein, who uncovered Unizin well before it happened.)  Phil and Michael also reported six other universities who are reportedly joining, but it is not public yet.  “The Unizin Consortium is universities coming together in a strategic way to exert greater control and influence over the digital learning landscape.  It enables each institution, its faculty, and students to draw on an evolving set of tools to support digital learning for residential, flipped classroom, online courses/degrees, badged experiences for Alumni, or even MOOCs if desired.  Unizin supports the differing missions and strategies of universities.

via Unizin.

From Badges to Breakthroughs: Unleashing Learner Potential through Competency-Based Achievements

Focused on personalized learner outcomes, a new program at Northern Arizona University utilizes OER as well as customized content for a program that enables participants to earn a degree in a model that is both high quality and efficient.  Students can test out of parts, or sometimes all, of each class.  The classes offer content in many modalities, and learners decide when they are ready to take the final assessment which can be a project, paper, or test.  There is no such thing as failing – the student continues to do work until they are able to pass.  Badges are collected as they complete.  This is pedagogy of the future – a fantastic idea.  Research from Educause.  “Students in the Personalized Learning bachelor-degree programs in computer information technology, small business administration, and liberal arts work with a mentor faculty member before enrolment to develop a personalized learning plan to help them successfully achieve a life, work, and school balance. Once students are enrolled, they talk with their mentors at least once a week for the first six months. In subsequent subscriptions, students and their faculty mentor work out an appropriate level of contact. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and prescribed — there are no electives.”

via From Badges to Breakthroughs: Unleashing Learner Potential through Competency-Based Achievements EDUCAUSE Review |

Five-Minute Film Festival: The Basics of Blended Learning

The question comes up over and over again.  What’s the difference between blended and hybrid learning?  There really isn’t a difference, but Edutopia put together a number of short films addressing how to navigate and take advantage of blended learning.  “The key to understanding blended learning is that it’s not about the technology; it’s about transforming instructional design to maximize teacher time, to better utilize digital resources, and to build a community of engaged learners of all stripes.”

via Five-Minute Film Festival: The Basics of Blended Learning | Edutopia.