Tag Archives: wcol2017

Jazzing Up Your Curriculum: Applying Principles of Jazz to Collaboration

I’m presenting at the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada, with co-authors Amy Spath, Ken Conn, and Roxanne Glaser.

This presentation is part of a collection of presentations on Professional Development. In this short post, I’m including some additional references and resources.

The full presentation is on this Google Slidedeck

“Jazz workshop” Resources

edu@2035: Big Shifts are Coming!

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

This session is presented by Richard N. Katz, Contact North Research Associate

Prediction is Hard

It’s hard, but increasingly essential. Read Richard’s full paper on this topic online here.

It’s difficult to do forward thinking without using the past as a frame of reference.

He shared a cool serious of pictures from Jean Marc-Cote from 1899 predicting 2000 paired with how that has turned out now. Interesting how many early ideas still required human intervention with the technology.

We’ve all seen examples of famous people, CEOs, saying things that were wrong. My favorite: Bill Gates in 2004, within “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Oh if only!

Past vs. Future

Will we be pushed by our past memories, or pulled by our future dreams? – Rev. Jesse Jackson

Richard suggests we can gain more by reading science fiction than by looking backwards.

He quoted Thomas Friedman:

Finally, we’re going through a change in the “climate” of technology and work. We’re moving into a world where computers and algorithms can analyze (reveal previously hidden patterns); optimize (tell a plane which altitude to fly each mile to get the best fuel efficiency); prophesize (tell you when your elevator will break or what your customer is likely to buy); customize (tailor any product or service for you alone); and digitize and automatize more and more products and services. Any company that doesn’t deploy all six elements will struggle, and this is changing every job and industry.

Richard replaced “company” in the last sentence with post-secondary institution. To what extent do we think we are employing these six strategies, then to what extent do we think we will struggle?


  • What we read on social media is a product of algorithms
  • What we see and do on the web is a product of algorithms
  • Algorithms help gadgets do all kinds of cool things
  • Artificial intelligence is built on algorithms

Teaching Changes

Consider the Jetsons image:

The robot teacher?

vs. the Jean Marc-Cote from 1899:

The technology enabled classroom

We do still have the teacher!

Some Scenarios to Visualize the Future

Nice collection of videos: one that has a smartphone falling down and smashing a campus; one where Disney and Pixar decide to improve the production quality of Open University courses; another with people talking about the human impact of the campus residential experience.

See the image on page 12 of his paper – where technology giants are attacking academe with faculty using pens, books, and ink to defend.

Invent our Future?

What are our choices? Do we avoid the topic? do we have paralysis by analysis? Do we choose mindful incrementalism? Or do we invent a new future? What would it take to do that? To construct scenarios, develop models, identify risks, extract themes, and iterate that over and over. These are behaviors that academe knows how to do.

The Future is Now

  • Algorithms helping us with everything; 80% of the top 100 companies will have cognitive intelligence and/or artificial intelligence in their products
  • Chatbots: Jill Watson, Woebot, Eno, Abie, HealthJoy, Poncho, Melody, LARA
  • Explosion in R&D investments
  • The technology giants are “all in” on artificial intelligence: Google assistant, home, allo, messenger, watson health, echo, alexa, siri, cortana
  • Jill Watson – a way to provide faster answers and feedback to students: read more about the experiment and experience here
  • Pew Research Center referenced – thinking about code-dependent: pros and cons of algorithms – the need grows for algorithmic literacy, transparency and oversight
  • Knowledge is on networks now

The Future of Learning Management Systems – Development, Innovation and Change

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

Phil Hill presenting. His slides are online here:


Phil commenting on the hype of MOOCs, the hype of higher ed going away entirely, the lack of business models for educational technology start ups. He recommends healthy skepticism on new trends such as adaptive learning.

Phil suggests that ed tech people have been children happily playing in the corner, but now the children are loose in the house. Funny metaphor – interesting how twice this morning I’ve heard that ed tech people just talk to each other (playing in the corner).

Online Students Survey by LearningHouse – good to understand student views of online learning.

Students want their own pace, but also instantaneous feedback. – PPIC, Successful Online Courses in California’s Community Colleges report

A problem-based learning method used in Habitable Worlds, a science course for non-science majors by Arizona State University – an example of the new direction of online learning that we need to consider. Focused on the big concepts, not the details. It’s multidisciplinary too – physics, sociology, etc. Students said, it was the best course I’ve ever taken. This course was built on Piazza – a wiki based discussion space.

Phil’s question – how can the LMS support this kind of course. This course was not in an LMS, because the standard LMS could not support what they wanted to do.

Some areas to consider: competency-based, gamification, adaptative, personalized learning. These are areas where people are trying to innovate in LMSes.

Having an LMS is like having a minivan – you’re not proud of it, but you have it. You buy it because you need it – it solves a particular job. A metaphor goes a long way to explaining a point!

A course management system is a better description – how do you take a course and how do you manage it? Learners are a list of people inside the course. They aren’t really “learning” management systems. The LMS isn’t really thinking about the learner outside the course or across the courses.

Phil has a slide with both LMSes and free consumer tools (i.e. blogger, wordpress, ning, pinterest, etc.). Interesting that we have both – faculty want these in the LMS or we expect the LMS to be easy to use like the cool tools. 

Some info on LMSes: Moodle has the largest installed base; Canvas is currently the fastest growing and the dominant for new implementation. Interesting comments that the competency based attempts aren’t very successful, not enough market. 

Cloud hosting or externally hosting is a huge new trend. A big issue – LMS going down on exam week or the first week of school. That is partly what’s driving the move to the cloud – to be able to scale up resources as needed. Security concerns also drive hosting decisions.

In North America, it appears that open source LMSes – Moodle and Sakai – installed base peaked about 2013, and is going down. Also that open source for open source’s sake is no longer such an issue.

Phil talks about the tension – what should be in the LMS vs. “cool tools” but then should those be inside the LMS? Initiatlly LMSes were a walled garden: forum, assignments, announcements, syllabus, etc. Nothing in or out. Over time though, there are consumer tools faculty and students want to use – blogging, social networking as two examples. Initial reaction by the LMSes was to give you a terrible version of it inside the garden. Lots of laughs from the audience. Feature bloat. Too many tools crowded in that were poor imitations of the outside. The new trend is LTI integration – we don’t have to have all activity. The LMS provides the basics, and hooks in other tools via LTI to connect to other items.

Now we think, the LMS is central; but it should enable me to use third party tools, but without being too confusing for students or too many logins!

Other tools coming to integrate are XAPI and Caliper – so in the future – we should have interoperability standards where we toss out the imitation tools from the LMS, and integrate easily with third party applications. Most competency based systems though are sticking with the walled garden idea.

Phil thinks that Canvas is pushing the competition – to reduce feature bloat and get a cleaner design.

Corporate learning is doing better with integrating tools; in the education market the integration of tools is more basic and somewhat clunky. The education market could learn from corporate learning.

Re mobile: The LMSes are moving their slowly. Offline access and responsive design for mobile are two major areas they are working on. It’s just slow.

Re learning and data analytics – the movement is more towards – we want the data, but we aren’t as interested in your graphs and learning analytics. Given our work in Intelliboard, I see this. What the data means depends on course and institution policies – and it’s better for the institution to be building up the meaning around the data.

Great session to get an update on what’s happening with LMSes. The evidence seems clear that LMSes are not dead nor dying.

Review of Canadian and U.S. Survey Results on Online and Distance Education in Post-Secondary Education

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

Presenter(s): Tony Bates, Ross Paul, Brian Desbiens, Denis Mayer, Eric Martel, Tricia Donovan, Russell Poulin

Babson & IPEDS have been collecting data in the U.S.; it has impacted policy at the state and federal level. But no comparable Canadian data across the whole system. So hence the new survey that is being reported on for the first time here at ICDE, and released to the public today.

This survey was done with a volunteer team, plus Babson and WCET to assist. Funding was raised, there wasn’t a federal base for it. They developed a national database of institutions to do the survey as well.

They had a 69% response rate; about 78% of the student population covered. Almost all of the post secondary institutions offer online for credit. They also checked websites and provincial records to identify what institutions were doing, even those who didn’t do the survey. It’s really a mature market – institutions have been offering online learning for 15 years or more. The growth rate has slowed because most institutions are already doing online (it’s about 2% measuring institutions; 15% colleges; 10% growth for universities 2010-2015). Online is about 16% of the teaching at the university level.

They made a distinction between distance education and online – print based being included in their distance education definition.

72% institutions rate online learning important and are developing a strategy for online.

Some technologies are hard to track because it might be at the individual professor level instead of at the institutional level.

They defined hybrid learning as a reduction in face to face time to allow time for online – that’s our blended learning definition at Andrews too. 

On hybrid learning – faculty were rethinking their teaching to better use online and face to face pedagogies. This type of learning is hard to track.

There’s no MOOC mania in Canada…. it’s neat and interesting and might be helpful but it won’t change our business.

Benefits of online learning: flexibility, increased enrollments, innovative teaching.

Challenges included lack of resources, faculty resistance or lack of training, lack of government support (lowest in Ontario, highest in Quebec).

Challenges with the survey – many Canadian institutions aren’t counting their online enrollments regularly; and even basic student counting of data is widely different across provinces; the need for a standard method of counting; post-secondary oversight is entirely provincial. FTE definitions are not the same across provinces.

Another challenge with the survey was whether to do a snapshot or an annualized version of the learning. A snapshot, for example, may not take into account summer online learning.

Comparisons between Canada and the U.S.

  • Similarities:
    • Difficulties with definitions for data collection
    • Institutional commitment and growth rates
    • Larger institutions are more likely to be doing online / distance ed
    • Institutions see online education as a strategic part of the institution moving forward
  • Differences
    • Canada: course enrollments / U.S. headcounts
    • Canada has almost all public institutions offering online; U.S. about 3/4ths public institutions involved in online


  • Scaling up faculty support – do faculty have to go to a central unit? can they get the support on their own and on demand?
  • Planning for digital learning
  • What about small institutions and the resources they need
  • What could or should the government be doing?
  • Organizational issues
  • Online course enrollment data

Links and Resources

UX Design for Learning

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada. This session is just one presentation shared by the Centre for Extended Learning at the University of Waterloo.

Presenters: Meagan Troop, Darcy White, Pia Zeni; Matt Justice, Kristin Wilson (University of Waterloo)

They have instructional designers, media developers, technology consultants, librarians, copyright specialists and more.

UX Design – popularized by Donald Norman. “Design decisions should be based on the needs and wants of users rather than informed solely by clients or developers.”

Desire Path by Wikimedia

Desire Path by Wikimedia

For us, the user is the learner. Why should I involved learners in the design process? Design without user input results in the user sometimes not even using what you designed. i.e. a “desire path” where users pick a path more efficient.

They got funding from ecampus Ontario to do a large research project on what users want in their e-learning experiences.

How do we keep the focus on the UX design where there is a big production pressure for getting courses launched?

Peter Morville is an information architect, UX expert. He developed the UX honeycomb – with valuable in the middle of the honeycomb.

UXLDL 1.0: They surfaced the literature on these areas, and focused on the various areas of the online learning experience. See their honeycomb website.

In this session, we are looking at two cells from the honeycomb: useful and desirable.


How can we create useful learning experiences for students? building on Richard Mayer’s work. 

Not just putting out information – but how do we get students to engage in “appropriate cognitive processing”. The idea is that we are processing visual and verbal information using different channels. We experienced watching a video where the words being spoken didn’t match the words – which is a problem because the brain is working on both but then can’t make sense of it because they don’t match. We need to engage both channels of the brain – visual and verbal – in a way that they match. If you add audio, you need to give the user a choice to use it or not. Also the visual should enhance the learning and add meaning or make the meaning easier to grasp, not just be added on.

The honeycomb website goes into much more detail on how to work on all of these areas.

Sometimes new material is complex, learners are novices. We need to help students process the new material. Segmenting short chunks, introducing key concepts first, using narration, not text to accompany pictures.

Four different kinds of visuals – decorative (they add nothing), representational (they represent one element of the concept; they don’t really enhance learning), organizational visual (depict relationships between one or two elements – do help with learning), and finally explanatory visual (like the water cycle – these help with learning). Need to focus on visuals that help explain the concepts. Metaphor visuals can act as a visual cue for retrieval of memory.

Media done poorly distracts learning!


It should Look Good (visceral design), Feel Good (behavioral design), and Make You Think (reflective design) aka Beauty, Function, and Reflection.

How do we create positive affect in online learning? Read more from the honeycomb here. We want to capture student’s attention, curiosity. Students need to watch the content to learn it, so how do we get them involved?

Surprise, a story, emotional design. How are we ensuring this is included in our courses? Is it easy for students to go from text to video and back to text? For function, do they have to mess around very much to get to the content and to engage in the course? We want to be creating a positive affect within the course.

What about the fact that some of these things take so many resources to create? And we have so many courses to create?

Images that engage emotions, that catch attention.

Researching the Honeycomb

The honeycomb was launched in 2016, and spring 2017 the research questions are around validating the honeycomb.

They focused on the literature on cognitive and affective work in online learning. They identified a gap in the literature. They are collecting data via surveys, in depth interviews, and user research.

They are looking at four courses – STEM and non-STEM – that were intentionally designed with the honeycomb in mind.

Results include students wanted: ongoing interaction, self-directed, self-paced, high quality, meaningful, fair assessments, same rigor in a classroom experience, flexibility, social aspect of learning, individual learning, humanizing learning.

The honeycomb is really about content – which would make sense because it is based on web design principles. For 2.0 they want to include the other types of interaction also – with the instructor and with peers.

Students ranked features in order of importance to them. Content and activities being easy to find (top feature, findable & usable on the honeycomb). Easy to read instructions, also high. Only 2% wanted opportunities to interact with their classmates. They think that interaction seems inauthentic or forced (i.e. discussion forums). This was undergraduate (and only a very small percent were adult learners) – I really think that undergraduates struggle much more with discussion than graduate students.

The honeycomb doesn’t really focus on humanizing learning, and this is an area they want to work on more.

I really appreciate a session where a team of people took a concept or framework and worked on it deeply, exploring the concept deeply, researching, experimenting with course design, etc.