I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Are MOOCs, Bootcamps and Other Alternative Education Options Effective?


According to this article, "A new study questions the quality of these programs, as well as the evidence that demonstrates their efficacy." When an article questions whether any form of online learning is "effective", the first question to ask is, "what do they mean by effective?" This is what I wondered on reading this article. I was disappointed, on multiple accounts. First, American Council on Education study cited in the article in no way resembles the coverage in this article. After gnashing my teeth I did some hunting and found a second article by the same authors published by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences which does cover the topic. But on a reading of the article I found nothing questioning their effectiveness (save the oft-repreted comment about MOOC completion rates), only an assertion that there is insufficient research on their quality. Both these reports - by researchers Jessie Brown and Martin Kurzweil - are quality reports. It's a shame the U.S. News & World Report treats them so disrespectfully.


Today: 156 Total: 306 Kara Voght, U.S. News & World Report, 2017/07/24 [Direct Link]

The Complex Universe of Alternative Postsecondary Credentials and Pathways


This is a survey document (56 page PDF) tracking research and commentary on the rise of alternative credentials (such as microcredentials, badges and certificates) and alternative learning pathways (such as word-based learning, MOOCs and short courses. The report has very little to say about effectiveness (see the executive summary) though it does make comments in passing as it cites other articles (eg. by the Chronicle). It looks into the historical antedecents and is a detailed examination of the rise of these alternatives, including how they are beginning to be incorporated into traditionaal programs. At the end, it remarks on the dearth of quality assessment for these alternatives: "evidence of the efficacy and value of these alternatives—for students and taxpayers—is still thin. Robust data on many programs’ features, cost, enrollment, and outcomes are simply not available."

Today: 164 Total: 298 Jessie Brown, Martin Kurzweil, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2017/07/24 [Direct Link]

Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances


This newly released report from the American Council on Education (25 page PDF) begins up front with a definition of instructional quality - sort of: "we maintain that the most sensible approach is to consider both inputs and outcomes, or to look at how actionable instructional inputs impact student outcomes." Reading through the report, though, we ssee the usual: persistance, completion rates, and GPA. It should be noted that this report seems far more interested in their impact on institutional revenue. I read this as an extended logical model; although "we are not aware of any study that directly evaluates the impact of improvements in instructional quality on net revenue" the report makes the case that such a link is there. As such, it does the job quite well.

Today: 134 Total: 262 Jessie Brown, Martin Kurzweil, American Council on Education, 2017/07/24 [Direct Link]

Feed your need to know


I search a lot, and I search in fairly precisely defined areas, and I need to keep up on news in these areas, so the new Google service - a feed based on my search interests that updates with news daily - would seem to be perfect. Except, first, it's only available in the U.S.; I'll have to wait a few weeks. And second (and worse, in my mind) it's only available in the Gogle App (for Android, iOS and Pixel Launcher).

Today: 117 Total: 261 The Keyword, Google, 2017/07/24 [Direct Link]

The principles of learning to design learning environments


This is a chapter from the recently released OECD Handbook for Innovative Learning Environments, the entirely of which appears to be accessible for reading online (knowing OECD, this may be an accident, so download it quickly). The principles in and of themselves are interesting. There's seven in all, and each is a conjunction of sevaral points, so if we teased them out there might be a dozen or two. These pronciples, which are learning-centered, are then applied to teaching and to learning environments. As Grainne Conole says, "One to explore in more depth…"

Today: 71 Total: 334 OECD, 2017/07/21 [Direct Link]

DIY VR Viewer


How much was oculus Rift again? OK, you're probably not getting the same quality of virtual reality, but you can't beat the price. "YouTube "celebrity" Roman UrsuHack offers the following video that provides an overview of making your own VR viewer."

Today: 64 Total: 306 Richard Byrne, Free  Technology for Teachers, 2017/07/21 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.