Wednesday, January 30, 2013

1/30 MOOC Update: Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application (FOEPA)

The Coursera course Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application (FOEPA) started on Monday with a number of issues;


  • We were instructed to create groups of 20 students using a Google Spreadsheet. Seems simple enough, but with a few thousand people trying to edit a single document at a time, it quickly became a morass. Rows were copied, people were deleted from groups, and the site used their mobile theme because of the load.
  • I never realized how limited Coursera's discussion forums are. I can't search by discussion forum, see a person's posts (namely mine) on one page, and change the default viewing method. 
  • Having the default to a discussion forum be that you subscribe to it, with no options for digest emails, has blown up my inbox. Sure its a pretty simple thing to change, but its annoying.
For the first assignment we were asked to respond to a few readings. Below is one of my responses.

The article Online Teaching and Classroom Change: The Trans-Classroom Teacher in the Age of the Internet by Susan Lowes focuses on research based solely on survey results. I find the reliance of survey results in education research, and specifically education technology or online education research, an overused and inappropriate research method. Survey results in most research are based on a person's own perceptions of their performance, and are colored through the participants' biases. I would find research that contains both survey results of participants, with objective data gathered from the LMS, student performance, and possibly outside reviewers with a standardized rubric/scoring mechanism, to be much more convincing.
For example, from the results they claim that "... computer science or programming reported making the fewest changes." This could easily be confirmed by having an outside reviewer look at both the online and face-to-face course, and with a rubric, determine how different they were.
Moving away from research, I know this ties into a bugbear education folks have about data, it is viewed as making people (instructors) accountable for human (student) behaviors. I'm not suggesting that schools, colleges, and universities require objective criteria to measure faculty, but we have to put this data in context, and use it appropriately. I would be very uncomfortable with an administrator looking at this data from a business perspective. I know if the data is available it may be misconstrued in this way, but if faculty don't develop a context around this data first, administrators, deans, and chairs will.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1/27 MOOC Update: Data Analysis and Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application through Coursera

Today is the last day of the first week of the Data Analysis course offered by Coursera, taught by Jeff Leek. In going through the videos I'm a bit surprised by Jeff's reference of Wikipedia as an additional resource for students. I always get the feeling that academics are always suspicious of Wikipedia, and that its a dark secret that all people, including themselves, actually use the site. As soon as he mentions Wikipedia, I had kind of a 'Well duh!' moment. Why wouldn't you use such a huge database of semi-reliable information? Naturally he has a caveat emptor moment in one of his videos, but most people taking the course (I would imagine) have grown up with the site, or at least know its quirks.

I am also enrolled in Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application offered by Coursera, taught by Dr. Fatimah Wirth, which starts tomorrow (1/28). Her experience at NASA, and doctorate thesis are particularly impressive. She uses the ADDIE method of instructional design, which I've read a bit about, but would like to know more about. It seems to use backward design, but develops a consistent framework for it. She is also a Quality Matters reviewer, so I'm interested in how she applies her methods to meet their rubric.

I also received a survey for Professor Tucker Balsch's course, Computational Investing I. The focus of the survey was to identify areas of improvement for the course. I don't remember getting a similar survey for the Computing for Data Analysis course I took, and am taking it as a sign that they recognize that the course was not ideal. I would be very interested in taking another course by Professor Balsch, but with more instructional design or technology support.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New company: AdaptCourseware

In order to develop a rich community of courseware developers, there needs to be a variety of people, companies, and organizations whose aims, costs, and product offerings are different. On this front, over at the Higher Ed Management blog, Dr. Keith Hampson (who is 'publisher' of the site? Is he bounding blog entries and publishing them? Is this a boomer thing?) has an interview with Dr. John Boersma, CEO for Adapt Courseware. In the interview he discusses the company's courseware development process. Two things caught my eye, the first;

 We start by fine-graining course content – defining 200 or more learning topics for a typical three-credit course, each with its own set of learning objectives.
This is a time intensive process which, on face value, should increase the level of tracking student performance, and would allow for a wider amount of feedback. I've had similar thoughts of doing this for the CCSS for Mathematics, breaking down each standard into smaller sub-standards. In general I think this is a great approach, you can align your content to these smaller standards/topics, and build from there. In practice though I could see issues pop up around interpretation of standards, differences in the pedagogical theories of participants, and making measurable standards/topics from generalized ones.

The second was;

Academic object analytics look at the same data through another lens – just how effective is that instructional video, text, or multimedia interactive across all students? We work on continuously improving our content based on this feedback loop.
This is an area I would like to research at my home institution, utilizing learning analytics for resource, activity, or item analysis. Classical Test Theory has been used for item analysis for 50 some years, and I'm interested if there were a way to apply it, or other psychometric theories, to a larger scale.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Job Opportunity: MATH CURRICULUM WRITER (Grades 9-12) (Nationwide)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: MATH CURRICULUM WRITER (Grades 9-12) (Nationwide). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist seattle | all jobs search "math " at January 21, 2013 at 10:14AM

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Job Opportunity: Curriculum Writers (Anywhere)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Curriculum Writers (Anywhere). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist los angeles | writing gigs search "math" at January 19, 2013 at 05:09PM

Job Opportunity: Freelance Math Assessment Item Writers needed! (virtual office)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Freelance Math Assessment Item Writers needed! (virtual office). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist new york | all jobs search "math" at January 18, 2013 at 12:10PM

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Job Opportunity: Temporary Math Production Assistant (Seattle)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Temporary Math Production Assistant (Seattle). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist seattle | all jobs search "math " at January 17, 2013 at 12:11PM

Job Opportunity: Math Professional Development Designer

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Math Professional Development Designer. I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via Monster Job Search Results math at January 15, 2013 at 09:47AM

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Job Opportunity: Math CCSS Curriculum Writer (New York)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Math CCSS Curriculum Writer (New York). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist new york | all jobs search "math" at January 08, 2013 at 04:01PM

Job Opportunity: STEM Professional Development Designer

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: STEM Professional Development Designer. I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via Monster Job Search Results math at January 08, 2013 at 03:56AM

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Job Opportunity: Mathematics problem writing (Boston (home office))

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Mathematics problem writing (Boston (home office)). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist boston | writing gigs search "math" at January 04, 2013 at 05:17PM

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Webinar Listing: Data-Driven Curriculum Mapping - Closing the Loop on Accountability

I've signed up for the webinar Data-Driven Curriculum Mapping - Closing the Loop on Accountability, on January 9th, by Dr. Jane Souza. Granted its through ExamSoft, and I'm sure there will be some product pushing, but the description sounded interesting;

Dr. Jane Souza, Associate Dean of Assessment from St. John Fisher College, explores curriculum mapping as an essential aspect of the educational process as institutions face increasing accountability. The presentation will discuss how the process implemented by St. John Fisher College has engaged faculty and provided valuable evidence to improve curriculum mapping, foster research of scholarship and teaching, offer real-time personal feedback to students, and provide direct evidence of learning that can be used for institutional reporting.
I'm mainly curious about the 'real-time personal feedback to students' portion, and how its setup. I find it challenging to develop courses with real-time constructive feedback.