Data Driven Learning and Assessment
I have seen a huge rise in the amount of data we are able to collect about our students and use to inform our planning for learning. The Horizon Report identifies online learning as a good source of data that can be mined for insights. The report states "Learning analytics experiments and demonstration projects re currently examining ways to use the data to modify learning strategies and processes." At ASB we conduct a yearly tech audit where teachers submit student artifacts based on the ISTE NETS-S standards. These artifacts are then further categorized into type of artifact and where they fall on Bloom's Taxonomy. Over the past 2 years we have used this data to pinpoint changes that impact student learning, for example we are seeing more teachers intentionally planning for higher order thinking with students, and we are able to track the adoption of new tools such as augmented reality. We are using the services of a data scientist to visualize the data and can see clear year on year trends. The hope is that he will develop an app for us that will make the collection of this data even easier. This fits well with the trend indicated in the Horizon Report that "there is a growing interest in developing tools and algorithms for revealing patterns inherent in data and then applying them to the improvement of instructional systems.
A Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators
This is another trend identified by the Horizon Report that will impact higher ed in the coming 3-5 years. Again I'm already seeing this shift in K-12 education at ASB. The report states: "A shift is taking place on university campuses all over the world as students ... are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content." Makerspaces are appearing in colleges and universities, and libraries are also developing physical building spaces equipped with craft tools, lazer cutters, microcontrollers and 3D printers, as well as places for creating video and publishing, where students can create together. At ASB the ground floor of our secondary school library was transformed into a Makerspace this year. A further trend identified in the report is that crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter or Indegogo are allowing student projects to be brought from model to fruition.
I was surprised to find this in the long-range trend section of the report, especially considering the findings of a recent article in The Journal that states 83% of high schools offer online courses to prepare students for higher education and careers. The Horizon Report indicates that more higher education institutions are developing online courses to replace and supplement existing courses. Having taken and facilitated quite a number of online courses over the past 2 years, I was interested to read that the use of voice and video tools is improving the quality of such courses. Tools such as VoiceThread and SoundCloud allow the capture of human gestures, voice and eye contact and body language which are important ways of communicating. I've found a huge difference between my first online course (a photography one where I had no connection with the instructor or with others on the course) and the ones I'm doing now where video and discussion forums are regular features.
Tying this with one of the earlier trends, online learning can produce a huge amount of data, which can in turn lead to a more personalized experience as technology detects patterns of students' successes and failures with the course material and adapts accordingly. Combining data driven analytics and online learning can certainly lead to courses catering to all types of learning styles, leading to more student success.
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