Interactive visualization tools for MOOC data

Harvard and MIT have made a suite of open source interactive visualization tools for the data of moocs. This is a follow up of their release of a series of working papers:

The technologies, dubbed Insights, draw upon near real-time, de-identified data of course registrants, dynamically updating at frequent intervals.

Developed collaboratively by Sergiy Nesterko, a Research Fellow at HarvardX, and Daniel Seaton, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, the tools showcase the potential promise of “big data” generated from massively open online courses (MOOCs) to help advance learning science.

Harnessing information on 1,055,562 total registrants, the tools provide an intuitive way to review individual courses across a number of metrics, including global enrollment, certificate attainment, gender and age composition, and education levels, all viewable country-by-country on a world map. The tools also feature HarvardX-wide and MITx-wide statistics. 

“These tools provide our faculty and course developers, as well as the general public, usable, visually interpretable data from course offerings in near-real time,” says Nesterko. “This can help to guide instruction while courses are running and deepen our understanding of the impact of courses after they are complete.”

For example, Insights shows how HarvardX and MITx course registrations from China, highlighting how technical barriers such as the blocking of YouTube and firewalls influence participation. In addition, the tools can shed light on common claims like MOOCs serving primarily male, highly educated students. It turns out to be less black and white, as there is dramatic variability in gender and education across different countries and courses.

“Our hope is that these tools will be useful to everyone, including researchers, journalists, course developers, and the public, for the purpose of understanding how these courses work and who our students are,” says Seaton.

Moreover, the code is open source and the aggregated datasets are downloadable, allowing interested users to modify and build upon existing functionality. In the future, the pair plans to expand the Insights toolkit to include distinctions between “auditors” and “enrollees.”

The tools can be viewed here:

European MOOC Summit 2014

European MOOC Summit 2014

Last week I attended the second European MOOC Summit in Lausanne and I was not the only one. More than 400 attendees from a lot of different countries, not only European. There were 20 participants from the Netherlands. The conference was held in the Rolex building on the EPFL campus.

Although the conference was about MOOCs, the discussion was as much about online learning. Their were four tracks at the conference:

  • Policy
  • Experience
  • Research
  • Business

The conference had good and interesting keynotes. I personally didn't like the the setup of the parallel tracks. That were very long session with multiple presentations with limited interaction and not easy to switch within a session.

During the conference I tweeted  a lot. My tweets can be found in my tweet archive. Summit proceedings are available online (PDF, 294 pages), video recordings of keynotes will follow soon.

Other interesting blogs about the conference:

The NMC Horizon Report 2014

New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) recently released  the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Higher Education Edition. This eleventh edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. They’ve also released this video summary:

Interest is to see the developments NMC Horizon has identified over the last couple of years:

Time to adoption
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Now-1 year Mobile Computing Mobile devices Mobile apps Tablet Computing Flipped Classroom
Now-1 year Open Content E-books Tablet Use
PC
MOOC Learning Analytics
           
2-3 yr Elektronic Books Augmented Reality Game Based Learning Game based Learning 3D Printing
2-3 yr Simple Augmented Reality Game based Learning Learning Analytics Big Data & Learning Analytics Games & Gamification
           
4-5 yr Gesture Based Computing Gesture Based Computing Gesture based computing 3D printing Qualified Self
  Visual Data Learning Analytics Internet of things Wearable Technology Visual Assistants

The six trends featured in the report were selected by the project’s expert panel in a series of Delphi-based voting cycles, each followed by an additional round of desktop research and
discussions:

Fast Trends: Driving changes in higher education over the next one to two years

  • Growing Ubiquity of Social Media
    For educational institutions, social media enables twoway dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. As social networks continue to flourish, educators are using them as professional communities of practice, as learning communities, and as a platform to share interesting stories about topics students are studying in class. Understanding how social media can be leveraged for social learning is a key skill for teachers, and teacher training programs are increasingly being expected to include this skill.

  • Integration of Online, Hybrid, and Collaborative Learning
    Education paradigms are shifting to include more online learning, blended and hybrid learning, and collaborative models. Students already spend much of their free time on the Internet, learning and exchanging new information. Institutions that embrace face-to-face, online, and hybrid learning models have the potential to leverage the online skills learners have already developed independent of academia. Online learning environments can offer different affordances than physical campuses, including opportunities for increased collaboration while equipping students with stronger digital skills. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented successfully, enable students to travel to campus for some activities, while using the network for others, taking advantage of the best of both environments.

Mid-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education within three to five years

  • Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment
    In online environments especially, students and professors are generating a large amount of learning-related data that could inform decisions and the learning process, but work remains on structuring appropriate policies to protect student privacy.

  • Shift from Students as Consumers to Students as Creators
    A shift is taking place in the focus of pedagogical practice on university campuses all over the world as students across a wide variety of disciplines are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content. Creativity, as illustrated by the growth of user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects in the past couple years, is increasingly the means for active, hands-on learning. University departments in areas that have not traditionally had lab or hands-on components are
    shifting to incorporate hands-on learning experiences as an integral part of the curriculum. Courses and degree plans across all disciplines at institutions are in the process of changing to reflect the importance of media creation, design, and entrepreneurship.

Long-Range Trends: Driving changes in higher education in five or more years

  • Agile Approaches to Change
    There is a growing consensus among many higher education thought leaders that institutional leadership and curricula could benefit from agile startup models. Educators are working to develop new approaches and programs based on these models that stimulate top-down change and can be implemented across a broad range of institutional settings.

  • Evolution of Online Learning
    Over the past several years, there has been a shift in the perception of online learning to the point where it is seen as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. The value that online learning offers is now well understood, with flexibility, ease of access, and the integration of sophisticated multimedia and technologies chief among the list of appeals. Recent developments in business models are upping the ante of innovation in these digital environments, which are now widely considered to be ripe for new ideas, services, and products. While growing steadily, this trend is still a number of years away from its maximum impact. Progress in learning analytics, adaptive learning, and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of online learning and keep it compelling, though many of these are still the
    subjects of experiments and research by online learning providers and higher education institutions.

 

Open Education Week 2014: Call for Participation

Open Education Week 2014: Call for Participation

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

The Open Education Week Organizing Committee invites your contributions to and participation in the third annual Open Education Week, featuring online and in-person events around the world.  

Ways to Contribute

There are many ways you can contribute to Open Education Week: upload an informational or inspirational video, host an event in your community, send us links to resources about open education, hold a webinar, and promote open education week in your social media networks. To contribute a video or resource, or to have your event or webinar featured on the Open Education Week Events calendar, please use the submission form at www.openeducationweek.org.  To get the website ready, we need your submissions by 28 February 2014. You are welcome to submit multiple resources or events.

Please visit www.openeducationweek.org for more information, ideas and FAQ, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @openeducationwk, or contact us at info@openeducationweek.org.

Help us spread the word and make this year's open education week a huge success!    

MIT and Harvard working papers on EdX

Earlier this week MIT and Harvard University announced the release of a series of working papers based on 17 online courses offered on the edX platform. The working paper series features detailed reports about individual courses; these reports reveal differences and commonalities among massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The papers analyze an average of 20 gigabytes of data per course and draw on interviews with faculty and course teams as well as student metrics.

Key Takeaways
Takeaway 1: Course completion rates, often seen as a bellwether for MOOCs, can be misleading and may at times be counterproductive indicators of the impact and potential of open online courses.

Takeaway 2: Most MOOC attrition happened after students first registered for a course. On average, 50 percent of people left within a week or two of enrolling. After that window, attrition rates decreased substantially. The average probability of a student ceasing to engage in the second week of the course declined to 16 percent.

Takeaway 3: Given the “massive” scale of some MOOCs, small percentages are often still large numbers of students — and signify a potentially large impact.

More information on their websites:

Also interesting to read is the review of Tony Bates.

Beyond MOOCs: Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions

The guys from CETIS have written an interesting white paper on the next phase after MOOCs:

The key opportunity for institutions is to take the concepts developed by the MOOC experiment to date and use them to improve the quality of their face-to-face and online provision, and to open up access to higher education. Most importantly, the understanding gained should be used to inform diversification strategies including the development of new business models and pedagogic approaches that take full advantage of digital technologies.

According to the authors three key themes emerge from the MOOC experiment:

  • Openness – new approaches to online learning, including models for scalable provision that may generate revenues, and promote open learning, which goes beyond institutional boundaries through the use of online communities. [Increasing impact & long term, likely for most institutions]

  • Revenue models – different revenue models taking the established ideas from technology start-ups, such as applying the concepts of freemium and premium offers into online learning, providing institutions with new ways of thinking about marketing and income generation. [High impact & medium term, more likely for institutions looking for new revenue streams]

  • Service Disaggregation – experimentation with business models that include unbundling and re-bundling of courses and delivery related services, such as offering paid for assessment and/or teaching and support, on top of free online course content. This may have a wider impact across institutions in the future through better deployment of existing resources to add value to customers where there is greatest benefit and to reduce costs through outsourcing (unbundling is already happening independently of MOOCs). [High impact & short term, likely for most institutions]

Institutions should consider exploring a set of opportunities that have been brought to the attention of mainstream education by MOOCs, and experiment with new approaches for developing technology-enabled changes in teaching and learning to improve opportunities for individual learners.

Download the white paper.

EP Hearing "New technologies and open educational resources"

Last monday I attended a public hearing of the committee on Culture & Education of the European Parlement. The subject of the hearing was "New technologies and open educational resources". I was nominated as expert by the MEP Marietje Schaake of the ALDE group. There were three experts selected to present their intervention on the subject.

  • Are European education institutions ready to welcome OER and ICT-related innovation?
    Presentation by Mr Claudio DONDI, Member of the advisory group to the Commission on Opening up Education, MENON, European network for research and innovation (summary)
  • The future of education is online
    Presentation by Mr Willem VAN VALKENBURG, Coordinator of TU Delft Open Education Team, TU Delft
  • Opening Up Education – Noble goals, important demands, effective measures? A critical assessment of the initiative and options for increasing acceptance and effectiveness in secondary education
    Presentation by Mr Harald MELCHER, Managing director at educational publisher m2more GmbH, Berlin (summary)

Here is the presentation that I used:

The complete hearing is also recorded and available online.

An important change I noticed is that the discussion on online education is less about why we should do this and more about how Europe can help. That is an interesting and good discussion. The new Erasmus+ programme is also more focused on this. In Erasmus+ the European Commission is specifically looking for impact of a project proposal.

World Economic Forum launches Forum Academy

This week the yearly world economic forum in Davos is taking place. One of the announcement is the launch of Forum Academy. They do this in a partnership with EdX and will use the Open.EdX platform:

Davos, Switzerland, 22 January 2014 – The World Economic Forum today launched Forum Academy, an online learning platform, in partnership with edX, a non-profit initiative created by founding partners Harvard University and MIT for online education. Forum Academy will provide continuous leadership development and updating, offering courses for professionals and organizations to enhance their strategic knowledge in a fast-changing world.

Forum Academy will:

  • catalyse an online global learning environment for continuous and certified professional development
  • create a world-class curriculum, providing cutting-edge global, regional and sectorial knowledge
  • establish a network of academic and other members to develop standards, best practices and joint certification models

As rapid technological, economic and social changes affect the context of professional work, there is a pressing need for insights into the latest developments and best practices on relevant topics. Forum Academy will help to address this need for yearly certified updates on the latest professional developments, leveraging the Forum’s worldwide multistakeholder network of the best and most relevant knowledge providers. The professional leadership courses will focus on specific global issues and industries. It will also focus on regional developments and provide updates related to professional and technological issues.

This is another interesting platform that is using Open.EdX. I think it is a very good development that more organisations are using the platform. This will improve the platform and strengthen the EdX Consortium.

TU Delft starts Extension School for online education

A small but import step for Delft University of Technology. Today we announced the appointments of a Dean of Open and Online Education and a  Director of Education for Open and Online Education:

The Executive Board of TU Delft has appointed Professor Rob Fastenau, Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science as Dean of Open and Online Education. Dr Ernst ten Heuvelhof, Director of Education in the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management is to take on the role of Director of Open and Online Education.

Together they wil lead an innovation programme to realize the strategy of TU Delft for the next phase of open and online education. Within two years, we will realize a Delft Extension School, based on the model of the Harvard Extension School, in which the open and online education is offered to students from around the world.

In this new extension school we will bundle all of our existing activities, such as OpenCourseWare, DelftX, Online Distance Education and Blended Bachelor programmes, and will expand this with new online and blended courses. I will be responsible for the production and delivery of all this courses. An interesting and exiting new challenge for me and our team.

Media-aandacht voor online onderwijs op de TU Delft

Afgelopen woensdag zat minister Bussemaker van onderwijs bij De Wereld Draait Door om te praten over de brief die zij naar de Tweede Kamer heeft gestuurd (persbericht). In 13 minuten is dit besproken:

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