Today’s students juggle multiple demands, which significantly impact their ability to study & focus.I don’t think it’s ever been easy to be a college student, although I may tend to idealize the experience somewhat given the number of years since *I* was one. But it has become more difficult. Today's college students are juggling multiple demands and are also entering school lacking essential skills, which is significantly impacting their ability to study and focus:47% of students are employed full- or part-time. More than 30% of students say they are distracted by personal issues like caring for family members or finances31% say they don’t feel connected to the instructor22% say they don’t feel connected to the others students…a problem in a world where group learning is more important than ever32% don’t believe the material is relevant.On average, instructors believe that one in four (27%) students enter the classroom without basic math or literacy skills. Transition: Students and instructors *both* believe technology can enhance engagement and learning outcomes.
This is all about attitudes, but the belief is widespread, and it does seem reasonable:Increasing engagement makes for better learningWell developed technology *does* increase engagement. In fact we can all think of concepts that are just more effectively taught using simulationAnd ready access to references and alternate explanations can make a world of difference in learning, particularly in soft sciences and humanities.The final bullet there is telling: Instructors have seen engagement and learning outcomes improve as a result of educational technology. Transition: The need for educational technology is increasing
The percentage of students who prefer courses that use technology is increasingAnd the percentage of professors who prefer *teaching* with technology is also increasing.Transition: So what’s the issue? As in many things these early stages are only indicative of what’s possible. We haven’t yet achieved the full potential of educational technology
Let’s take a look at the pieces that need to be available to the student and instructor:Content. Here I’m talking about traditional learning content –readings and case studies -- as well as interactive and rich media content. More on this in a momentNext is Functions and Tools. This includes the various tools to aid studying (think Highlighting, Annotating and Note-taking) as well as other tools to prepare and deliver courses and manage academic activities.External tools. No provider is going to be able to develop the best-of-breed in all kinds of tools. Language learning labs, lecture capture, and outcomes management are examples of these diverse applications. Again, more on this in a moment.Platform and Infrastructure. There are a number of things that are required across the PLE, but in the background to make it work effectively. Taxonomies are an example of this, but there’s also a common API framework, as well as the infrastructure required to deliver tools and content onto different platforms.Transition: First, let’s take a look at content.
Content these days goes way beyond the narrative and images found in traditional textbooks, but those still represent a huge portion of how learning is delivered. These can take a variety of forms ranging from something as simple as a reading, to being the front end for a full database (which I’m capturing below in links).Interactive learning objects are next on the list. These can range from simple simulations to full-blown games. I’m also including compiled assessment here, too, although the uncompiled version would more likely go into narrative. The hard part here is that most of these interactive objects to date have been done in Flash. That, of course, has become very problematic with Apple’s stance on Flash on the iPad. I haven’t seen any demos yet, but I’m not convinced that Wallaby is going to address it. Maybe for rich media, but I doubt for the more complex interactive objects. We’ll see.Rich Media. Movies, video clips, animations, just what you’d expect. [JUMP OUT]Notes. This is an interesting one. It could even be called user-generated content, and, as we’ll see in a moment, there is a big social media aspect to this. So it’s important not only to be able to capture this kind of information, but also to be able to share it, present notes upon notes, and so on. It also includes wikis and discussion boards.And finally I have Links. This can either be a link out to references, real time data, etc. or it could even be a way of incorporating third party material into the platform experience. As we see interoperability standards develop further, I would expect to see more of that, but for now this is primarily outbound.Transition: The next chunk,Functions and Tools, is where a PLE really comes into its own.
Here are two examples of a rich media environment that goes beyond the “p”Book and the eBook. On the left is video embedding and an interactive exercise in graphing. What we see are In-line media along with integrated contextually-relevant and aware AppsEasy navigation for non-linear learning[JUMP BACK]
This is where you see the ultimate mash-up of pedagogy, content and technology:There are two views that are necessary here. The first is a “library” view, incorporating a rich library of reference and learning material, the second is the learning path. Everyone pretty much has a library view – this is equivalent to a Bookshelf or even a TOC. What’s not so obvious is the Learning Path: how a student would proceed through the material. Certainly every textbook author has a perspective on this, so you would expect to see a traditional scope and sequence of learning objectives attached to any particular course. But many instructors would like to add their own material or have found that a different sequence of lessons works better for their classes. Through customization tools the instructor can alter this learning path. I should also note that this is where adaptive learning engines would go to *really* personalize the experience. [JUMP AHEAD]Content management is how new material is added into the curriculum or modified.For general study tools I think of highlighting, annotating, note-taking and excerpting. [JUMP AHEAD]Discipline-specific study tools are interesting…and this is the area in which many efforts have foundered. What works in one discipline, say World Languages, where you need language lab capabilities, just isn’t relevant in a different discipline, where you might need a way to access and compare primary source documents (say in History), or Chemistry where you might need tools to model molecular interactions. We’ll talk more about it in a minute, but this is where there must be a capability to integrate third party tools.Assessment is obvious, although to be effective it need to link tightly to the content, and if it’s for a grade, to the grade book and grading tools.Group learning. [JUMP AHEAD]The blue blocks are external tools. I’m showing the likely spots for external tools, although it’s likely that there would be rudimentary capabilities for these things in any reasonable platform:Grading tools: interesting developments in artificial intelligence-based essay gradingGradebookCalendarAccess to online tutoringTools to record and review lecturesTransition: This brings us to partner tools and services.
This shows one possible view of a learning path, and would be one of several possible views including thumbnail, syllabus and calendar views. This particular view shows the status view of all activities (graded, due dates, % complete, etc.)[JUMP BACK]
This is a pretty rudimentary example of note taking to get the pont across. I’m seeing these tools developing very quickly and it may well be that a general purpose application for notes may exceed the capabilities of native platforms.What we’re attempting to achieve is easy capture, sharing, persistent markup, say tagging, and synchronization of notes, highlighting and so on.[JUMP BACK]
Remember the scene in “The Social Network” where MarkZuckerberg is using his newly developed Facebook to get a crowd-sourced analysis of four paintings? That’s one value of group learning: I think it depends on the assignment to determine whether that was cheating or not, but I guarantee he learned quite a bit about those paintings by extracting out the ideas he was going to write about.Some key features of group learning:Presence features allow real-time collaboration and communicationCommunication occurs within the environmentThreaded persistent communication via bulletin boards or wikisOther integrations are supported: Facebook is a key example of this.[JUMP BACK]
You’ve already seen the blue highlights on the previous page indicating the likely scope of external apps. This page shows how those apps link to outside tools and services. There are two issues here:There are very few institutions where it wouldn’t be necessary to integrate with an LMS or other campus systemsThere are no examples of any platforms that have uniformly excellent tools across all disciplinesConsequently you have to plan to integrate with third party tools and services.Transition: Here’s an illustration about how this might work.
This shows tools and App docking at right, that links out to Google Docs in this case for joint document development and sharing.The idea is that these apps should be available from multiple channels: a marketplace, within the application, or elsewhere.Transition: Now let’s transition to one of my favorite topics: the kinds of things that are needed behind the scenes to make it all work.
These are a few of the more important pieces that go behind the scenes. The first three make sure that the various content elements and tools interoperate seamlessly. Taxonomies allow linking huge amounts of content so that only the most relevant is pulled for the particular use. There are very well-established methodologies for doing this which, given where I am at the University of Michigan Library, I most likely don’t need to go into. For those of you that aren’t aware, Gale is a part of Cengage Learning, and I have a team that does nothing but develop and maintain taxonomies and another that does nothing but index our content with those taxonomies. [JUMP AHEAD]Markup is also key. It’s a little hopeless to try to get *all* of your content into a single schema. DocBook, for example, works well for some narrative content, but not all. TEI might be another markup that’s used for another discipline, and then there is all of the descriptive, bibliographic and learning object metadata that might be encompassed in an IEEE LOM, or SCORM schema.Public APIs are critical if you want apps that will interoperate. And finally there is user and session tracking, permissions to control who has access to what content (remember that grades are in here), and various tools to allow the content and applications to operate on a variety of end-user platforms such as Mac, PC, iPad, etc.Transition: Speaking of end user platforms, the key concept is anytime, anywhere…
This is an example of a curricular taxonomy for principles of economics. You can see that it’s a nested set of concepts that can be used to organize content so you can easily find related materials for ease of use together.[JUMP BACK]
The Personal Learning Experience should be available across any platform the student or instructor desires. Clearly some content might not work on some devices, but the goal is pervasive access.Transition: Okay, let’s put it all together:
This kind of framework provides the ultimate mash-up of pedagogy, content and technology:Students and instructors can customize the personal learning experience through a library of apps, including homework solutions, online tutoring, text-to-speech, plagiarism checking, social media integration, etc. A “Library” view incorporates a rich library of reference and learning material of all sorts.Learn “anytime anywhere” via multiple devices because the solution runs in the cloud, but can also be used offlineLearn concepts through activities and interactive exercises, quizzes and assignable homeworkAccess multimedia content such as videos, podcasts and images with the ability to capture lectures in video for future studyingUtilize text-to-speech tools, highlight, take notes, link to external sites and even get tutoring helpAllow instructors and students to incorporate open content in the context of the overall syllabusInstructors can quickly assess student comprehension and adapt to ensure success. Students can create their own personal experience that combines course material with social connectedness.Transition: OK, that’s it for my prepared comments.
The New Textbook: Moving Beyond Paper
The Future of E-textbooks: a Symposium<br />University of Michigan Library, March 18, 2011<br />The New Textbook:Moving Beyond Paper<br />Ken Brooks, Jr.<br />email@example.com<br />
Today’s students juggle multiple demands.<br /><ul><li>Forty-seven percent of students are employed full- or part-time.
More than 30% of students say they are distracted by personal issues like caring for family members or finances, 31% say they don’t feel connected to the instructor, 22% say they don’t feel connected to other students, and 32% don’t believe the material is relevant.
On average, instructors believe that one in four (27%) students enter the classroom without basic math or literacy skills. </li></li></ul><li>Technology enhances engagement and learning outcomes.<br /><ul><li>A majority (58%) of instructors believe that technology in courses positively impacts student engagement.
86% of students report that their academic engagement and learning outcomes have improved as they have increasingly used digital tools in their coursework.
87% of students believe online libraries and databases have had the most significant impact on their overall learning.
79% of instructors have seen the average levels of student engagement improve over the last year as they have increased their use of digital tools in the classroom. </li></li></ul><li>There is increasing need and support for educational technology.<br /><ul><li>In 2009, 58% of students preferred courses that use a great deal of technology. In 2010, 67% say they preferred courses that use a great deal of technology.
The proportion of instructors who say they prefer teaching courses that use a great deal of technology increased from 48% in 2009 to 58% in 2010.</li></li></ul><li>There has been no perfect answer up to now.<br /><ul><li>There are lots of tools out there, but they don’t fit together to provide real value.
Authoritative content, not just technology, needs to be at the core of any solution.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for students or instructors. They need choice and flexibility.
Digital solutions have not yet delivered on their promise to improve the educational experience.</li></ul>5<br />