Top 20 in Educational Technology to Connect with through Social Media

Interested in growing your personal learning network? We informally queried the AACE community and beyond resulting in these top 20 suggestions for Edublogs and Twitter Handles. The list includes past AACE conference keynote speakers, conference committee members and EdITLib contributors.

EdTech Scholars' Twitter Profiles

Who is Who in Twitter?

Terry Anderson
Professor in Distance Education at Athabasca University (CA)
Topics: Digital Scholarship, Open Education, Educational Technology, Learning Networks, MOOCs

Tony Bates
Consultant in E-Learning and Distance Education (CA)
Topics: Instructional Design, Open Access, Open Education, Educational Technology, Strategy and Innovation, E-Books, Open Textbooks

Curtis Bonk
@travelinedman Professor of Instructional Systems Technology in the School of Education at Indiana University (US)
Topics: Open Education, Self-Directed Learning, Motivation, MOOCs, OER, Instructional Design, Global Learning

danah boyd
Scholar at Microsoft Research, Founder of Data & Society Research Center, Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center (US)
Topics: Social Media, Youth Culture, Internet Culture, Big Data, Social Networ Blog:

Saul Carliner
Professor of Educational Technology at Concordia University (US)
Topics: Workplace Learning, Educational Technology, Instructional Design, Organizational Development

Grainne Conole
Professor of Learning Innovation at School of Education, Bath Spa University (UK)
Topics: Online Learning, Higher Education, Learning Design, OER, Learner Experience, Learning Theories, Methodologies

Alec Couros
Professor of Educational Technology & Media, University of Regina (CA)
Topics: Personal Learning Networks, Personal Learning Environments

Mark Curcher
Director of 21st Century Educators Program, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (FI)
Topics: Teacher Development, Entrepreneurship, EduPunk, Innovation, Educational Technology

Laura Czerniewicz
Director of Center for Educational Technology at University of Cape Town (SA)
Topics: Higher Education, Digital Scholarship, Open Education, Digital Divide, Mobile Learning, OER

Nellie Deutsch
EFL teacher, faculty at Atlantic University (US), founder of Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning (IT4ALL) and Moodle for Teaches (M4T)
Topics: Online Collaborative Learning, Moodle, Teacher Education, EFL, MOOCs, K-12

Aaron Doering
Associate Professor of Learning Technologies / Learning Technologies Media Lab Director at University of Minnesota (US)
Topics: Adventure Learning, Experiental Learning, Design Based Research, Innovative Learning Design, Photography, Multimedia

Stephen Downes
Senior Researcher at National Research Council of Canada (CA)
Topics: Personal Learning Environments, cMOOCs, Connectivism, Sensemaking, Networked Learning, Educational Technology, Higher Education, K-12

Jon Dron
Professor at School of Computing and Information Systems, Athabasca University (CA)
Topics: Digital Scholarship, Open Education, Educational Technology, Learning Networks, MOOCs

Ann Hill Diun
Professor at Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota (US)
Topics: Organizational Development, Higher Education, Personal Learning Environments, Portfolios, Social Networks

Alan Levine
Educational Media Consultant (US)
Topics: Digital Storytelling, Educational Technology, cMOOCs, Podcasting, Photography, Multimedia

Charles Miller
Associate professor of Learning Technologies at University of Minnesota (US)
Topics: Adventure Learning, Experiental Learning, Design Based Research, Innovative Learning Design, Photography, Multimedia

Howard Rheingold
Researcher, Author, Visiting lecturer in Stanford University's Department of Communication (US)
Topics: Learning Communities, Virtual Communities

George Siemens
Director of Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab (LINK) at University of Texas at Arlington (US)
Topics: Collective Intelligence, Connectivism, Learning Analytics, Learning Networks, Big Data, MOOCs

Martin Weller
Professor of Educational Technology in the Institute of Educational Technology at Open University (UK)
Topics: Digital Scholarship, Open Education, OER, Open Access

Steve Wheeler
Professor ofLearning Technology in the Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University (UK).
Topics: E-Learning, Mobile Learning, Web 2.0, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting, Distance Education, Social Networks

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Is It Possible to Learn Anything Online? A Student’s Perspective

Open learning resources along with web based training and online degree programs on almost every subject have been accumulating at an amazing speed, and become vastly abundant for each individual learner. According to a study conducted by Babson Survey Research Group, at least 30 new courses are released on major MOOC platforms (e.g., Coursera, EdX) every week in 2014, compared with 10 in 2012. Students’ enrollment of online courses is growing even faster. Only 2% of students used to take at least one online course in 2002, in the fall of 2010 this number had increased to 30%. More than 7.1 million students took at least one online course during only fall 2012 . A recent survey by Ambient Insight Research predicts that the online learning market will rise to $49.9 billion by 2015.

Online learning is on the rise - both in formal and informal settings (Image by Alec Couros)

Online learning is on the rise - both in formal and informal settings (Image by Alec Couros)

Is it possible to learn anything online? An effective learner can teach him or herself almost anything with the copious online resources. However, my personal experience in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) makes me doubtful whether college students are prepared for this type of learning.

I took a course named “R Programming” on Coursera last year. This course was very popular, and has been shared on Facebook for more than 6.000 times. The course was presented as an introductory course, recommended to people who have “some familiarity with programming concepts and basic knowledge of statistical reasoning” before taking the course. The less-than-4-hour video lectures of the course covered some very basic programming knowledge, like control structure and loop. However, when it came to assignments and projects, the requirement for programming knowledge suddenly increased to a level far beyond the video lectures and recommended prerequisite knowledge. Many students felt frustrated when working on the assignments/projects and dropped out off the course. I finished the course and got a certificate with distinction, simply because I had been coding in different programming languages for several years, not because I learned very much from the course material. Honestly, I didn’t even watch all the lecture videos.

From my experience, especially in the area of programming, this is not an exception. Many online learning resources are not structured in a way that reaches learners with no or little pre-knowledge.  Though they may contain valuable material and information, it is doubtful that you will learn how to program if you are not a programmer yet. Plus, it is as easy to drop out as it is to sign in. To take advantage of resources like MOOCs effectively, a learner has to be able to think critically, understand clearly the knowledge structure of a subject and his/her own abilities, constantly diagnose learning problems, search online for additional learning material, and seek support through a personal learning network. Is the typical college student ready for this type of learning?

Much of the discussion around MOOCs creates the impression that today’s students are digital natives, held back in our informal learning journeys by outdated brick-and-mortar institutions. My ongoing research and personal experiences tell a different story. In 2014, I conducted  a survey among college students majoring in computer science at the University of Georgia. It included three questions on students’ attitude towards self-directed online learning.

Interestingly enough, the low score of first/second year college students indicate that they did not believe that they can learn sophisticated knowledge through online learning. They didn’t like independent learning very much, and also reported less frequent online search in their learning. A possible interpretation of the difference between first/second year college students to fourth year students is that the college experience actually helps us to develop independent online learning behavior. This is a question worth further exploration.

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Que sera, sera? Predicting Future Trends in Educational Technology – Horizon Report 2015

Since the New Media Consortium (NMC) released the ‘Horizon Report 2015 Higher Education’ at the beginning of February, the 50-page document has been broadly circulated and commented upon in the blogosphere and on twitter. Reactions vary from appreciative “As always it makes interesting reading” (Grainne Conole) to critical “NMC should be obligated to re-examine its methodology” (Stephen Downes).

About the Horizon Project

Horizon2015 Since 2004, the New Media Consortium annually releases the Horizon trend report to identify key issues that are likely to have an impact on education over the next five years. The selection process for the NMC Horizon Report is a modified Delphi process. The Delphi method involves experts in a two-step moderated group discussion to identify possible future developments. This strategy is used to predict the impact of new technological trends or innovations.

From 2004-2009, the New Media Consortium released one single annual edition of the Horizon report. In 2009, the NMC added a K-12 edition to the series, followed by the Museum edition in 2010 and the Library edition in 2014.

Until recently, each report followed the same structure, highlighting six emerging technologies or practices based on time to adoption (one year or less, two to three years, four to five years). In 2013, the report introduced a new section on ‘significant challenges’; and the 2014 edition brought with it a complete structural overhaul, which tripled the number of trends and developments discussed in the report.

2015 Higher Education Edition in a Nutshell

In its current form, the Horizon report identifies 18 topics likely to impact planning and decision-making in the educational technology sector: Six key trends accelerating technology adoption, six significant challenges for technology adoption, and six important technological developments.

2015 Horizon Report for Higher Education - Overview

Six Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption

The Horizon report identifies six key trends that are likely to drive technology planning and decision-making: Long-term trends will influence the educational technology sector over the next five years and beyond, mid-term trends will be influential for the next 3-5 years, and short-term trends are likely to become commonplace or fade away in 1-2 years.
  1. Increasing Use of Blended Learning: In terms of trends in the short-term, the report foresees a rising amount of online and blended learning offerings that complement traditional classroom activities on campus. While blended learning is not exactly a new trend, the report notes changes in its implementation: “Instructors are thinking more deeply about mimicking the types of interactions learners are accustomed to in brick and mortar settings”.
  2. Redesigning Learning Spaces: As another short-term trend, the report identifies the effort of reconfiguring learning spaces to better support new forms of teaching and learning: “Instead of the traditional rows of chairs with writing surfaces facing a podium, universities are creating more dynamic classroom layouts, often with seating arrangements that foster collaborative work.”
  3. Proliferation of Open Educational Resources (OER): As OER is gaining traction across campuses, the report predicts an increased acceptance and usage as a mid-term trend. The broader proliferation of OER hinges on effective leadership: “While data shows that some faculty are integrating OER on their own, institutional leadership can reinforce the use of open content”.
  4. Growing Focus on Measuring Learning: Measuring learning through data-driven practice and assessment is seen as a mid-term trend. As institutions are facing pressure from accreditation bodies and governing agencies to document student achievement and learning outcomes, this process may be facilitated by learning analytics: “The emerging science of learning analytics is providing the statistical and data mining tools to recognize challenges early, improve student outcomes, and personalize the learning experience”.
  5. Advancing Cultures of Change and Innovation: As a long-term trend, the report predicts a cultural shift in institutional leadership and curricular structures towards agile start-up models that foster flexibility, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking: “It will require visionary leadership to build higher education environments that are equipped to quickly change processes and strategies as start-ups do. If these organizational models are designed well, universities can experience more efficient implementation of new practices and pedagogies”.
  6. Cross-Institutional Collaboration: The report predicts increased cross-institutional collaboration as another long-term trend, reflecting the notion that innovation can scale better when ideas are shared between institutions: “The prevalence of consortia underscores a vision of institutions as belonging to part of a larger ecosystem in which long-term survival and relevance in higher education relies on the mutually beneficial partnerships”.

Six Significant Challenges for Technology Adoption

The report lists six challenges that are not charted on a timeline, but categorized as solvable, difficult and wicked, depending on how well we understand the scope of the problem and its potential solutions.
  1. Blending Formal and Informal Learning: As one can learn something about almost anything at the palm of one’s hand, self-directed learning, led by curiosity or serendipitous discovery, has the potential to enrich formal learning in higher education. However, institutions struggle to acknowledge and validate informal learning experiences.
  2. Improving Digital Literacy Skills: As the traditional view of literacy as the ability to read and write has expanded to encompass fluency in using digital tools and online information with aptitude and creativity. In order to improve digital literacy, both students and faculty need support and training.
  3. Personalizing Learning: Universities struggle to design and offer educational experiences that address the individual student’s specific learning needs, interests, aspirations and cultural background. Data-driven approaches to effectively facilitate individual learning pathways have only recently begun to emerge.
  4. Teaching Complex Thinking: Complex thinking describes the ability to understand systems in order to solve problems by deciphering how individual components work together as part of a dynamic unit that creates patterns over time. While data visualization and infographics can make complex ideas digestible for students, the skillful presentation of data has become yet another expectation scientists and researchers need to meet.
  5. Competing Models of Education: As more and more free and low-cost content becomes accessible via the Internet and, at the same time, students face rising costs of tuition, new models of education (i.e., MOOCs, competency-based degree programs) are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional four-year campus experience: “There is a growing need to frankly evaluate the models and determine how to best support collaboration, interaction and assessment at scale”.
  6. Rewarding Teaching: Since both organizational rankings and individual career trajectories are largely determined by research output, universities struggle to acknowledge talent and skill as an instructor as a valuable asset, which impedes the implementation of innovative pedagogies: “Overemphasis on research has caused a number of negative ramifications, including an excessive dependence on part-time faculty”.

Six Important Developments in Educational Technology

In its final section, the report discusses emerging educational technologies that have the potential to foster changes in education within the next five years – for example through the development of progressive pedagogies and learning strategies, the organization of teachers’ work or the delivery of content. Educational technologies are broadly defined as tools and resources used to improve teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. Currently, the NMC monitors seven different types: 1) Consumer technologies, (2) digital strategies, (3) technologies enabling transformative innovation, (4) Internet technologies, (5) learning technologies, (6) social media technologies, (7) visualization technologies.
  1. Bring Your Own Device: The report states that a growing number of best practice approaches are paving the way for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to enter mainstream with an adoption timeframe of one year or less. BYOD is a digital strategy that refers to people bringing their own laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. to their learning or work environment, thus enabling students and educators to leverage the tools that they find most efficient: “The link between the use of personal devices and increases in productivity gets stronger each passing year as more organizations adopt BYOD policies”.
  2. Flipped Classroom: As another digital strategy on the short-term horizon, the report predicts the broad adoption of flipped classrooms in higher education. The flipped model shifts the time spent in class from content transfer to group discussions, project-based learning and other learner-centered activities. The lecture-based information delivery takes place before and after class in form of video recordings, podcasts or reading assignments.
  3. Makerspaces: Makerspaces, community-oriented workshops that engage learners in problem-solving through hands-on design and construction, are forecasted to reach mainstream within 2-3 years: “Widespread enthusiasm behind makerspaces in steadily growing”. A growing number of universities are creating informal learning spaces that support the maker movement, offering 3D printers, laser cutters, Legos, sewing machines and other tools.
  4. Wearable Technologies: As another mid-term trend, wearable technologies are poised to see significant growth in the coming years. This consumer technology is expected to spur experimentation in higher education.
  5. Adaptive Learning Technologies: With an adoption timeframe of 4-5 years, the horizon report describes the advancement of adaptive learning. The term refers to smart learning applications that adjusts over time to user data, thus customizing learning experiences for individual needs on a large scale. This can happen by adapting instructional material according to individual user data, or by aggregating data across a large sample of users to optimize curricula.
  6. Internet of Things: Another trend on the long-term horizon is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT signifies a network of objects that connect the physical realm and the information technology sphere by embedding chips, sensors or tiny processors into objects so that they can transmit information such as age, cost, color, pressure or humidity. Application options in higher education include streamlining processes, automation and data-driven sustainability efforts

Is it Useful?

From Web 2.0 and social media to open education and personal learning environments to Massive Open Online Courses - educational technology research is a trend-driven discipline. Visions of the future in form of technology forecasts and trend reports are common ways for practitioners and researchers alike to stay ahead of the technology curve. At the turn out the millennium future studies in education have seen a definite boom. Various reports, projects, surveys and workshops aim to depict future needs and emerging themes in education, for example the CORE Education’s Ten Trends Annual Report (New Zealand), the Innovating Pedagogy Report (UK), or the European TEL-MAP project.

Among these publications and initiatives, the Horizon report forms an influential resource for educators that are interested in not only learning what the emerging trends are, but also how they might be able to participate in and shape the transformation process.

Que sera, sera

Given the rapidly changing environments of modern societies there is a growing need to know about the development of future technologies and their impact upon societal changes. Reducing risks and identifying opportunities are common motives for studying the future. However, educational technology and technological change are both drivers and results of complex interactions in the context of social, economic, and political forces. Future Studies in the educational technology sector are methodologically tricky and may be compared to forecasting today's weather:
“Very long-range climate trends, alternative scenarios, or panels of experts are less effective than getting a rich contextual picture of the weather (perhaps from the weather channel) and looking at very recent trends such as direction and speed of weather fronts.” (Coates et al., 2001).

At first glance, one would expect that trend forecasts like the Horizon Report thrive to achieve correct prognosis about the future and that thus their quality is simply measured by the number of correct predictions in a given time frame. However, at a closer look, it is not that simple. The report is conducted to influence and inform strategic planning. Thereby it impacts future developments and may foster or prevent certain developments. Hence, its strength is to inspire discourse within the community by depicting alternative futures for educational technology adoption.

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How Faculty Adapt their Practices to Teach Online – An Interview with Donna Murdoch


Donna Murdoch: Digital Learning and Online Teaching Specialist

Donna Murdoch is a Digital Learning consultant who is currently working with UNICEF to build an architecture that embeds digital learning into the organization. She also teaches educators how to integrate online and blended instruction into their practice at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in the new VOLT program (Virtual and Online Teaching.) As part of her doctoral dissertation, Donna Murdoch investigated the incorporation of online learning into faculty's regular practice. She surveyed 20 faculty members from across the U.S. who had been face to face instructors in higher education for at least 3 years prior to teaching online, and were currently teaching at least two course per semester, with at least one of them online. Her interviews focused on faculty’s perception of their own experience as adult learners during the transition, the challenges they faced, how they overcame them, and the perceived quality and value of the online courses they taught.

How do traditional face-to-face teachers become e-teachers? What are challenges and milestones in the transition process? It was my pleasure to talk to Donna about her research project. transition Online Learning: From enigmatic phenomenon to everyday practice (Adapted from algogenius Flickr collection, creative commons, some rights reserved).

Donna, can you sum up your findings in a few headline-grabbing sentences?

Headline grabbing –

Adults don’t like the change they encounter when new technologies are introduced – and you won’t believe the reasons why!!!

Faculty member stays up all night answering email from students doing online work at 2 a.m. – find out her 10 secrets to napping during the day!

All kidding aside, I did have three distinct findings, and they were almost unanimous. First, the vast majority of participants expressed concern about the quality of online instruction. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman also found this in the 2014 Babson Survey “Tracking Online Education in the United States.” The difference in my survey was that most participants expressed more concern about the quality of their colleagues’ courses. They perceived they had overcome most obstacles, but that others at their institutions had not.   They did not believe that others were teaching courses that were on par with face-to-face classes in terms of quality. This is because of findings 2 and 3. The second finding was that the overwhelming majority did not feel support from their institutions when transitioning to online modalities, rather they indicated that experiential learning in the form of mentorship, learning by doing, and dialog with peers were most critical when overcoming the challenges. The third finding was that the majority of participants indicated the time required for preparation and intrusion of time on an ongoing basis during the course of an online class were significantly greater than time requirements of a face-to-face course.

What gave you the idea for this project?

When I began developing an online program at a very large university, I experienced a phenomenon. Highly educated faculty members, popular with students and/or dedicated to research and well respected in their field were reluctant to teach online. Not only were they resistant to online instruction – I should not limit it to one modality. Many were resistant to any kind of change to what had traditionally worked for them, and emphatically so when it came to change that meant they would need to use technology. I was fascinated. These super intelligent people were overly resistant – there seemed to be something more to it. There were so many different reasons stated, but I sensed it was about something more overarching. I was often successful in “convincing” them, but when I did, it was not very easy!   When I did work in corporate education, I saw the same resistance. Very few people like the change that accompanies technology integration, whether in an academic setting or a corporate university. I wanted to know why this was happening.

What challenges did you face during data collection and analysis?

Interestingly, the only challenge I faced during data collection was not putting enough time on my calendar for each interview!   People who had been through the transition really wanted to talk about it, more so than I had anticipated. The parameters of the study included “must teach at least two classes online” so if we refer to the results of the study which highlight the time that is devoted to online instruction, it is easy to understand why they wanted to talk about such a big part of their lives. Analysis was not too difficult – I’m really infatuated with a new cloud based analysis tool called Dedoose, which can replace some of the traditional software programs - it is quite magical.

How can your results benefit faculty development initiatives?

The focus of technology, e-learning, or blended learning initiatives is often the shiny toys. It frequently involves working with the platform and perhaps some “training” on the tools themselves. Technical support is common, but technical competency is a very small part of what it takes to be successful in online instruction. The results showed that we really need to view the adoption and acceptance of e-learning in a more systemic way that educators will feel is supportive. This is change management, but it seems many experience support by means of an IT hotline number, LMS instruction, or a quick lunch and learn. Faculty are adult learners, and my research showed that they don’t feel IT oriented support is giving them what they need in order to feel confidence in the process they go through to build and sustain a high quality online course. We need to assess them in advance to find out what they need to know and how they will learn best. The benefits will be clear when the most common challenges are addressed via adult learning methodologies.

What are your next steps?

I will be defending my dissertation in the spring at Columbia University Teachers College. I got so much unanticipated data, there are a number of papers I hope to publish. Everything I learned was so worthwhile! That will come next. I also really enjoy applying research to practice, and I’m excited about PennGSE’s new VOLT graduate certificate in online learning, as I’ve been part of it from the beginning. I think it will be different than anything we’ve seen before. I enjoy my corporate work, and have been helping corporate universities (and NGOs) build digital learning that works for adults. And I really enjoy working with education entrepreneurs, especially when they are working to build tools for adult learners.

Did you know?

Donna and I met through the AACE Special Interest Group on ‘Assessing, Designing and Developing E-Learning’ (ADD E-Learn). You do not have to be an AACE member or an attendee of previous AACE conferences to join an AACE Special Interest Group– simply connect on Academic Experts.

Are you currently conducting a research project that you would like to share with the AACE community? Let us know! Contact us via FaceBook or Twitter @AACE.

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Informal Learning: New Challenges for Designers and Educators

By Till Credner (Own work: [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

By Till Credner (Own work: [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

I first realized the power of Informal or Out-of-School Learning as I lay looking up at the stars in my backyard with my young daughter. We lay together looking up, and I pulled out my phone and opened up a Sky/Constellation science app. Together, we looked at the stars, and she looked up information and saw high quality photos about constellations, stars and other objects that we couldn’t view without this augmented reality. In that moment, she was engaged in this informal learning in a way very different from a classroom setting. It was a great experience.

Informal learning happens all around us. Many educators and instructional designers are taking notice. According to Julian Sefton-Greene, there are two scales to consider when looking at informal learning. First, learning can be considered on a scale from informal to formal in terms of setting (e.g., in-school vs. out of school). Secondly, learning can be considered in terms of the curriculum (e.g., self guided educational apps vs. a highly structured MOOC). Considering where your designs fall on this scale can be a powerful tool for educators and designers as they look at ways to improve learning.

Informal Learning Scale

The Indian edublogger Sahana Chattopadhyay explores how the changing landscape of work and learning impacts the requirements for learning material, the design process and the skill profile of instructional designers. Chattopadhyay argues that instructional design needs to respond to an education landscape that is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

"An instructional designer today is required to not only understand the fundamentals of good instructional design but must also expand his/her skill sets to include an understanding of community management, the spectrum of learning from formal to informal, the impact of social, local and mobile on user behaviour, the need to equip users with self-managed learning skills".

A first step to develop these skills is to develop an understanding of user behavior and learner activities that span formal and informal learning. Here is a brief list of informal learning articles and publications from 2014. It offers a gateway into current research on social learning activities, online communities and informal learning in a variety of contexts.

Further Reading

Chunngam, B., Chanchalor, S. & Murphy, E. (2014). Membership, participation and knowledge building in virtual communities for informal learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(5), 863-879. Retrieved from

This study, looks at the design of a virtual community for informal learning about Thai herbs. The community relied on social networking tools and a database of expert knowledge as well as community coordinators. Results show findings that relate the importance of access to expert knowledge and interest in a subject in informal learning contexts.

Ferguson, R., Faulkner, D., Whitelock, D., & Sheehy, K. (2014). Pre-teens’ informal learning with ICT and Web 2.0. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, (ahead-of-print), 1-19.

This study looks at the habits of pre-teen informal learning with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Web 2.0 tools. There are still restrictions of how technology is used in many school environments and this study takes a look at some of the distinctive elements of pre-teens use of these technologies.

Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. M. (2014). The Maker Movement in Education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-504.

In this essay, the authors provide context, give theoretical background, and consider the role of making in education. This form of informal learning is increasingly popular with the decrease in price of 3D printers, Laser Cutters, and other consumer manufacturing equipment. They finish with exploring the potential pedagogical impacts on teaching and learning.

Hou, H. T., Wu, S. Y., Lin, P. C., Sung, Y. T., Lin, J. W., & Chang, K. E. (2014). A Blended Mobile Learning Environment for Museum Learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(2).

This study looked at three varieties of museum learning. (1) The traditional museum visit accompanied by a learning website, (2) paper - based learning sheets used during museum visits accompanied by a learning website, and (c) an interactive mobile learning system used during museum visits accompanied by a learning website.

Jones, W. M., & Dexter, S. (2014). How teachers learn: the roles of formal, informal, and independent learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(3), 367-384.

In this qualitative study of math and science teachers at two middle schools, the authors iden- tifies how their system for learning to integrate technology into their teaching goes beyond what school leaders typically consider when planning for teachers’ learning. It considers the roles of formal, informal and independent learning for today's teachers.

Maier, M., Rothmund, T., Retzbach, A., Otto, L., & Besley, J. C. (2014). Informal learning through science media usage. Educational Psychologist, (ahead-of-print), 1-18.

This article reviews current research on informal science learning through news media. Based on a descriptive model of media-based science communication the authors distinguish between (a) the professional routines by which journalists select and depict scientific information in traditional media and (b) the psychological processes that account for how media recipients select, process and integrate such information.

Schreurs, B., Van den Beemt, A., Prinsen, F., Witthaus, G., Conole, G. & de Laat, M. (2014). An investigation into social learning activities by practitioners in open educational practices. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(4).

This research investigates how educational practitioners participate in activities around open educational practices (OEP). The results show how practitioners of six different OEPs learn, while acting and collaborating through a combination of offline and online networks.

Song, D., & Lee, J. (2014). Has Web 2.0 revitalized informal learning? The relationship between Web 2.0 and informal learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Web 2.0 technology allows researchers to shed a new light on the importance and prevalence of informal learning. The present study investigates the relationship between Web 2.0 levels and the evaluation of over 250 informal learning websites.

Ziegler, M. F., Paulus, T., & Woodside, M. (2014). Understanding Informal Group Learning in Online Communities Through Discourse Analysis. Adult Education Quarterly, 64(1), 60-78.

While informal learning may tend to occur as an individual endeavor, group learning can also be powerful. This study presents an exploratory analysis of a single thread from an online hiking community to introduce discourse analysis as a framework to study informal learning as a group meaning-making process.

Join the discussion

Want to join in the discussion about informal learning? Share your comments and other references below.
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Learning Adventures in the Red Rock Canyon Park: Michael Searson on Wearable and Mobile Technologies

Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket.” Horizon Report Wiki 2015

Wearable technologies are seamlessly integrated with a user’s everyday life and movements. They enable users to see information about their surroundings, allow them to engage with social media, email and web services, and can be used to track and monitor an individual’s physical functions such as sleep, movement, blood pressure etc. Together with the already ubiquitous presence of mobile devices, wearable technologies are likely to shape our personal learning ecosystem.

How can we leverage these exciting new technologies for formal and informal learning? It was my pleasure to talk to Mike Searson, immediate Past President of SITE—Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, Executive Director of the School for Global Education & Innovation at Kean University and on the Education Advisory Board for the US National Parks Service.

Explore Red Rock Canyon State Park during SITE 2015 (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Explore Red Rock Canyon State Park during SITE 2015 (Image Source: Wikipedia)

During SITE 2015, Mike Searson offers conference participants a unique experience: Exploring the Red Rock Canyon Park and delving into the possibilities of mobile and wearable technologies at the same time. As the US National Parks approaches its Centennial in 2016, Searson and SITE are excited about the opportunity to weave together rich, place-based education experiences with emerging technologies.

Q: What wearable and mobile technologies make up your personal learning environment?

Of course, the answer to that question depends on how one defines “wearable” and “mobile” technologies. In some cases, that’s pretty easy: my Fitbit is a wearable, my Android phone is a mobile. My MacBook Air is neither (although some may feel an “ultra” laptop is a “mobile,” I don’t). And, I’d classify my iPad as a mobile. Currently, the mobile/wearable landscape is changing very rapidly, and will continue to do so for some time. For example, some items at the SITE conference may disappear, while others may emerge just around the corner. For example, Google recently announced that it was “shelving” its Glass. And Apple is about to release its Watch. And, Google Cardboard offers some very interesting possibilities, especially for educators exploring place-based learning opportunities. We’re hopeful to have a good array of mobiles and wearables with us at the SITE conference.

However we define “mobile” and “wearable” devices, we should explore the possibility of BYOD tools to their fullest educational potential. In other words, we should leverage the devices people carry around with them everyday, as powerful tools for learning.

Q: What National Parks are you planning on visiting this year?

Well, for the SITE conference, we’ll be spending time at the Red Rock Canyon, which is under the US Bureau of Land Management. It’s wonderful and beautiful park, just outside of Las Vegas. Perhaps I should mention that I sit on the US National Parks Service Advisory Board for Education, which allows me unique opportunities to “explore” parks. However, as I live in the Northeast US, I devote considerable time to “urban” parks. Over the next few months, along with various colleagues, I will be exploring the Federal Hall National Monument in NYC and the Independence National Park in Philadelphia. Also, I spend a lot of time biking at the Sandy Hook Gateway in NJ, along the Atlantic Ocean that has great views of the NYC skyline. As an educator, I am intrigued by the educational possibilities that Parks offer to urban youth and their teachers. I should mention that the year 2016 is the Centennial of the US National Parks Service, and many people are exploring the rich opportunities that parks—from national, to state, to local levels—offer the public, including place-based education experiences.

Q: What specific potential do you see for mobile devices and wearable technologies to enhance place-based education?

Before answering that question, I’d like to acknowledge a remarkable phenomenon that has occurred over the past few years. When smart phones were first introduced, they had to be regularly tethered to computers; that is, if you wished to add new apps to your phone or update its operating system, you had to connect it to a computer. Over time, smartphones worked as truly independent devices. You could enjoy their full potential without ever connecting to a computer. Access to the “cloud” was the only requirement to optimize their value. Now smartphones have become the hub for wearable devices, i.e., with very few exceptions, your wearable device is not fully optimized unless it is either directly connected to or within a short distance of its smartphone hub. Yet, this coupling does allow for true 24-7 experiences. For example, I wear my fitness band all day; thus, certain fitness data are constantly monitored. And, when in range of my smartphone, these data are shared and uploaded to the cloud. Although, I was provided a dongle to “connect” my Fitbit to my computer, I never use it. I really like the mobility and ease with which I can carry/wear the smartphone/wearable combo all day long. So, within a few years, the smartphone went from a device that had to be tethered to a computer to one that is now a hub for other devices.

As education leaders, I believe it is our responsibility to explore the potential of such devices, especially when used in tandem, as rich learning technologies. And, due to their mobility, they are perfect tools to explore place-based education opportunities. While I could take my laptop and use its camera to take pictures of flora and fauna in National Parks, I’d never consider doing so. I would do what I do in other interesting daily experiences, take out my phone and take the desired picture. I could then use Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat to share with my community. And, at the same time, my wearable device may be collecting spatial and temporal data—I could easily find out the distance and elevation of the trail that I just walked.

In the end, it may be best to say that we really don’t know the answer to your question. We are in the early stages of exploring how mobiles and wearables can “enhance place-based education.”

Q: What distinguishes wearable technologies from other mobile learning devices, such as smart phones?

First, I need to repeat what I said above, for the most part, wearables function best when they utilize a smartphone as a hub. Currently, there are very few exceptions to this. But, again, the landscaping is changing quite rapidly—there are wearables embedded in clothing, wearables “connected” to medical devices, wearables that transmit (and receive) data directly to (and from) your car. With that in mind, here are some of the notable distinctions: wearable are true 24-7 devices. My laptop is with me much of the day, but only when I am indoors. My smartphone is with me most of the day, but usually not around when I sleep nor (hopefully ;-) when I drive. Yet, the only technology that is with me 24-7—indoors or outdoors; asleep or awake; driving, watching TV or hiking—is my fitness band. Currently I find the notification systems on my wearables to be more functional and less intrusive. Frankly, many of the notifications on my smartphone are little more than annoyances—often some type of marketing message. Yet, on my fitness device, the subtle buzz when I’ve reached ten thousand steps or a flashing light that I need to recharge my battery seem just right. Again, as we gain more experience with wearables, this may change, but at the moment, for me, it seems that their notification ecosystem is just right. Finally, and this feature could cause alarm—many of the features in some wearables are tacit. In other words, without being consciously aware of it, I transmit and receive data to and from my fitness band 24-7.

However, all of this should raise some concerns for educators. As described above, since most of these data reside in the cloud, it is possible that they could be hacked. So, if they wished to do so, a law enforcement agency or a good ole hacker could tell precisely when (and even roughly where) I went to sleep. Should we begin to more formally incorporate mobile and wearable devices into classroom experiences we need to be concerned about who might be accessing the data students produce, and for what reasons.

Q: For many people, me included, National Parks are a place for disconnecting from devices and re-connecting with silence. Are we old-fashioned curmudgeons missing out on crucial learning opportunities?

Actually, many of us on the Parks advisory board would agree with you. On the one hand, we recognize the need to make our parks as connected as possible; on the other hand, we should be concerned about the distraction issue. Ideally, connectivity in the parks, and other placed-based education spaces, would only enhance the overall experience, and not distract from it. For example, remarkable “apps,” available on both iOS and Android platforms, developed by National Parks Service staff (see, provide true added value to the Parks experience. For example, the NPS Mall App, which can be used when in DC national parks, offers a unique augmented reality tool that allows the visitor to alternately view actual monuments and then access cloud-based media.

Yet, there are times that the unvarnished experience is the purest reality. For example, if you seen a herd of moose running across a plain in Yellowstone Park, put down your camera, stash your cell phone and just enjoy! In fact, one of the Parks subcommittees is simultaneously recommending that Parks be empowered with Wi-Fi/4G connectivity; yet, have strategically placed signs that say “Power Down Zone,” indicating the visitor has reached a space that could be best enjoyed with no filters, especially technology driven ones. In the end, those of us who support place-base experiences are confronted with the same issues faced by 21st century contemporary society—how do we best used our devices to enhance, rather than distract from, our lives.

Q: Could mobile data collection by everyday visitors eventually inform park management and help curate national treasures?

Absolutely! Actually, that’s an easy transition from what’s been happening for years. Consider the numerous monarch butterfly tracking projects, where naturalists and other scientists work with students and teachers to track and collect data on monarch migrations. These types of activities are designed to create citizen scientists, everyday people who, under the right conditions and paired in some way with real scientists, can participate in actual scientific activities, such as providing tracking data on butterfly migrations. While some of the initial projects were PC based, we’re already seeing the availability of citizen scientist projects on mobile devices. For example, there are the Project Noah and Marine Debris Tracker apps that leverage active communities, such as students and teachers, to work with scientist in data collection and documentation.

Of course, even without apps, mobile and certain wearable devices come with inherent geo-tagging and time-stamp features, which are useful for data collection and curation activities. For example, in many of these devices, the very act of taking a picture invokes an array of meta-data—such as the location, time, and sometimes weather conditions—that were present when the picture was taken. And we can add text or audio notes to our pictures and videos, providing rich documentation of the experience.

Later this year, a group of educators, working with National Parks staff, will explore the historic sights in Philadelphia’s Independence Park to explore ways that we can use mobile and wearable devices to document some national treasures. We’ll then examine the classroom implications of such activities.

Q: What learning experiences and outcomes do you hope your participants will take home from the SITE 2015 workshop?

Well, I guess I’ll begin with a point you raised earlier. If nothing more happens than enjoying the beauty and surroundings of Red Rock Canyon, we would have had a rich experience. However, if we use the mobile and wearable devices that we carry around with us on a daily basis to collect data and document our experiences, then our trip to the park will become more engaging. Finally, we end with some reflective time addressing issues that concerns many educators: How can we best incorporate our exciting informal learning experiences into formal classroom activities? For example, can data and documentation collected in the Red Rock Canyon with our mobile and wearable devices then be integrated into lesson plans and curriculum standards?

Want to Learn More? Register for SITE 2015

Do not miss the SITE 2015 workshop ‘Taking it Outdoors: Personalized Learning Technologies and Place-Based Education’. To register access the SITE website at

Taking it Outdoors: Personalized Learning Technologies and Place-Based Education

This innovative workshop will examine the role of personalized learning technologies as a place-based education tools. For example, how can wearable devices and mobile technologies be transformed to support informal and formal learning experiences for students? Working with the US Bureau of Land Management and the US National Parks Service, workshop participants will be transported to the scenic Red Rock Canyon Park. Once there, we will take a guided tour through key areas of the Park. Facilitated by workshop leaders, participants will use wearable technologies and mobile devices to collect data and document their experiences in Red Rock Canyon. Returning to conference headquarters, participants will then engage with workshop leaders on how personalized learning technologies (PLTs) can be incorporated into formal classroom experiences. While workshop participants are encouraged to bring their own mobile and wearable devices to this workshop, a limited handful of new devices will be on hand to explore their potential as learning tools.

Posted in AACE, Conferences, SITE Tagged with: , , ,

Tinkering with the Idea of Bricolage

“Bricolage is a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. It involves continual transformation, with earlier products or materials that are ready to hand becoming resources for new constructions”. Innovating Pedagogy Report 2014
Bricolage: Taking available pieces and assembling them to make something new

Bricolage: Taking available pieces and assembling them to make something new

Bricolage means to engage in a dialogue with a heterogeneous collection of materials and tools, in which items are repurposed and rearranged to solve a problem. Bricolage does not necessitate having a clear end in sight. On the contrary, it requires the stakeholders to be open and start with a vaguely defined idea. The project and its components take shape over time.

Bricolage comprises tools and artifacts that were accumulated over time. This may include material that was collected without any specific purpose, and picked up simply because it might be useful someday; as well as outcomes, products or ‘leftovers’ from other projects. The typical bricolage setting is one of constant remix: Its tools and artifacts are not limited to only use nor does one need specialized expertise to adapt and use them.

Instructional Design Implications
  • Learning Process: Engaging in bricolage means learning through creative improvisation, just as a toddler may turn a leaf pile and sticks into an airplane. ‘Rather than replacing forms of informal, self-organized pretend play by school education, bricolage can contribute to creative practices in adult education such as experiental learning activities.
  • Transfer Learning / Personal Learning Environments: When looking at learning over time, bricolage is a collage fabricated when students combine little bits and pieces from different domains and learning experiences. As such ‘bricolage’ is a helpful concept to illuminate the process of transfer learning. Allowing room for ‘bricolage’ that can furnish a students’ personal learning environment ties together the often fragmented experience that may potentially derail students’ learning trajectories.
  • Educational Technology Systems: In contrast to the traditional engineering approach in which the end product determines the means and methods, bricolage offers opportunities for stakeholder involvement through open, participatory design processes. It allows for unforeseen and chaotic developments as the end product is not clearly known at the outset. It focuses on building, refining and testing (and potentially discarding) rather than defining, planning and implementing.
  • Organizational Innovation: Bricolage offers a basis for creative innovation through combining and adapting tools and theories to generate new insights. It fosters collaboration and exchange across disciplinary, divisional or cultural divides. The reasoning process does not use deduction, but is a creative design process.
Recommended in EdITLIb
Jon Dron, Researcher at TERKI (Athabasca University)

Jon Dron, Researcher at TERKI (Athabasca University)

Dron, J. (2014). Ten Principles for Effective Tinkering. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 505-513). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Jon Dron argues that ‘bricolage’ is better suited to networked, social, open-ended learning than traditional learning design approaches. He offers ten principles and patterns for effective bricolage:

  1. Do not design - just build
  2. Start with pieces that are fully formed and useful
  3. Surround yourself with both quantity and diversity in tools, materials, methods, and perspectives
  4. Dabble hard - gain skills, but be suspicious of expertise
  5. Look for exaptations and surf the adjacent possible
  6. Avoid schedules and goals, but make time and space for tinkering, and include time for daydreaming
  7. Do not fear dismantling and starting afresh
  8. Beware of teams, but cultivate networks: seek people, not processes
  9. Talk with your creations and listen to what they have to say
  10. Reflect, and tell stories about your reflections, especially to others
Posted in AACE Tagged with: ,

Threshold Concepts for Learning

The 2014 Innovating Pedagogy report describes 'threshold concepts' as a trend with significant impact over the next 2-5 years:
"Momentum for using threshold concepts to help teaching is growing across disciplines".
The idea of threshold concepts emerged from a national research project in the UK, where researchers looked into the possible characteristics of strong teaching and learning environments for undergraduate education. Disciplines have ‘conceptual gateways’ or ‘portals’ that lead to a new, previously inaccessible way of thinking. An example from the social sciences is that ‘you cannot make causal inferences from correlational data’.

A threshold concept is "a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something" (Meyer and Land, 2003).

Mastering a threshold concept puts learners in a liminal state where they oscillate between old and emerging understandings - just like an ethnographic researcher who is not outside, but also not quite inside the group he or she is working on. Characteristics Meyer and Land (2003, 2005) characterize threshold concepts with the following qualities:
  • transformative (significant shift in the perception of a subject),
  • integrative (exposing a previously hidden interrelatedness),
  • oftentimes bounded (meaning that they separate academic disciplines),
  • probably irreversible (unlikely to be forgotten, or unlearned only through considerable effort)
  • and potentially troublesome (often problematic for learners, because the concept appears counter-intuitive, alien, or incoherent).
Applications in Instructional Design
  • Identifying thresholds for a specific domain
  • Informing curricula design
  • Inspiring lesson planning
  • Developing creative, authentic and meaningful assessment
  • Adopting student-centered, motivating approaches
Further Resources from EdITLib

Kiley, M. & Wisker, G. (2009). Threshold Concepts in Research Education and Evidence of Threshold Crossing. Higher Education Research and Development, 28(4), 431-441.

While most work on threshold concepts is related to discipline-specific undergraduate education, this article identifies six generic doctoral-level threshold concepts: Learning challenges experienced by research students and their supervisors. The research involved 65 experienced research supervisors across six countries (Australia, England, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand and Trinidad) and across Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering and IT and the Sciences.

Chetty, J. & van der Westhuizen, D. (2013). "I hate programming" and Other Oscillating Emotions Experienced by Novice Students Learning Computer Programming. In Jan Herrington et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 1889-1894). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). View paper as Open Access in EdITLib.

The paper explores the range of of emotional reactions while learning a threshold concept, program dynamics. It helps educators understand students’ emotions so that they are not only communicators of information but also motivators.

Posted in AACE

2014: Thanks for AACE Community EdITLib Contributions & 12 Most Popular Articles

For a growing number of researchers and practitioners, EdITLib--Education & Information Technology Digital Library is the go-to resource for high-quality content. In 2014, the library greatly increased the value for researchers and educators by adding a number of journals and proceedings.

Special thanks to the AACE community who enriched the dialogue around educational technologies and innovative pedagogical approaches as AACE conference participants, speakers, presenters, reviewers, editors, and journal contributors.

The infographic below gives an overview of  EdITLib and AACE activity followed by a list of the 12 most popular articles for the year.

The Year 2014 – Trends, Facts & Figures

Search Terms 2014

World cloud of the 20 most popular search terms of 2014 (produced with

12 Most Popular Articles in 2014

The selection of the 12 most popular articles in 2014 offers a potpourri of trends, ongoing issues and current debates. The full text of each paper is available in EdITLib. Enjoy, reflect, learn and connect to the AACE community.

1. Comparative Analysis of Learner Satisfaction and Learning Outcomes in Online and Face-to-Face Learning Environments
This empirical study compared a graduate online course with an equivalent course taught in a traditional face-to-face format on a variety of outcome measures. Results revealed that the students in the face-to-face course held slightly more positive perceptions about the instructor and overall course quality although there was no difference between the two course formats in several measures of learning outcomes.

2. Characteristics of Adult Learners With Implications for Online Learning Design
The online educational environment is increasingly being used by adults and should be designed based on the needs of adult learners. This article discusses andragogy, an important adult learning theory, and reviews three other adult learning theories: self-directed learning, experiential learning, and transformational learning.

3. What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)?
This paper describes a framework for teacher knowledge for technology integration called technological pedagogical content knowledge (originally TPCK, now known as TPACK, or technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge).

4. Social Presence Theory and Implications for Interaction and Collaborative Learning in Computer Conferences
This paper examines research on social presence theory and the implications for analyzing interaction, communication, collaborative learning, and the social context of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Even though CMC is considered to be a medium that is low in social context cues, it can be perceived as interactive, active, interesting, and stimulating by conference participants.

5. Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital era
Digital literacy involves more than the mere ability to use software or operate a digital device; it includes a large variety of complex cognitive, motor, sociological, and emotional skills, which users need in order to function effectively in digital environments.

6. Integrating Technology into the Classroom:  Eight Keys to Success
There are many issues related to the successful use of technology in the classroom. While attention to choosing the appropriate hardware and software for the classroom is prerequisite, it is the skill and attitude of the teacher that determines the effectiveness of technology integration into the curriculum.

7. Teachers’ Views on Factors Affecting Effective Integration of Information Technology in the Classroom:  Developmental Scenery
This article reports on an exploratory, longitudinal study, which examined six teachers' views on the factors that affect technology use in classrooms. The research examined teachers of grades 4, 5, and 6-for three years, studying the teachers both as a group and as individual case studies.

8. Issues in Distance Learning
This review of literature and research into the effectiveness of distance education systems deals with a number of factors which affect their success or failure.

9. Humanizing the Classroom by Flipping the Homework versus Lecture Equation
Innovative educators are using technology to revolutionize teaching by inverting or flipping the homework versus lecture equation. In an inverted or flipped classroom, students review pre-recorded lecture content online before class, freeing class time for active learning.

10. Moodle: Using Learning Communities to Create an Open Source Course Management System
This paper summarizes a PhD research project that has contributed towards the development of Moodle - a popular open-source course management system ( In this project we applied theoretical perspectives such as "social constructionism" and "connected knowing" to the analysis of our own online classes as well as the growing learning community of other Moodle users.

11. iPads in the Classroom – New Technologies, Old Issues: Are they worth the effort?
This paper presents the results of a research project that involved introducing iPads into two elementary school classrooms to support the development of student digital storytelling skills. This project resulted in many positive learning experiences with the technology, with storytelling and across other components of the curriculum and the community.

12. Key Factors for Determining Student Satisfaction in Online Courses
One-hundred five respondents out of a sample of 303 online learners completed the resulting Online Course Satisfaction Survey. The results indicated student satisfaction with online courses is influenced by 3 constructs: instructor variables, technical issues, and interactivity.

Posted in AACE, EdITLib Digital Library

Big Data and Education: Prospects and Problems

The Data & Society Research Institute, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and New America’s Open Technology Institute recently organized a conference on “Data & Civil Rights”. The organizers released a series of research briefs that summarize current research literature, practical challenges and emerging questions surrounding ‘big data’ in different areas of society – including education:
“Many education reformers see the merging of student data, predictive analytics, processing tools, and technology-based instruction as the key to the future of education and a means to further opportunity and equity in education.”
Big Data

Big Data: Discovery of Patterns and Relationships

For educators the ‘Data & Civil Rights: Education Primer’ offers a balanced view of both the opportunities and risks associated with learning analytics and other uses of data mining in education.


On the plus side, leveraging large datasets has the potential to improve efficiency, effectiveness of education providers and the learning experience of individual students.

“Data mining can support a variety of education-related functions, including building student models to individualize instruction, map learning domains, evaluate pedagogical support, and contribute to learning science. Analytics techniques can be used to create models to predict registration, student performance, and retention. The wealth of new information about students is used to detect cheating or plagiarism, create college or course recommendation engines, and identify abnormal results. It can also be used for administrative, recruiting, and fundraising purposes.”

Though data-driven education has the potential to improve access to and the quality of teaching, it does not come without risks and potentially severe side effects:

“It may perpetuate persistent labeling, deepen rather than lessen concerns about resources, violate peoples’ expectations of privacy, and enable inappropriate or harmful repurposing of educational data in non-educational contexts. For example, students or their guardians may find it impossible to eschew or reverse flawed algorithmic assessments. The identification of students as “at risk” might not allow them to remove any harmful record of their failures if they improve later on. Students may see labels as self-fulfilling prophecies and predictive analytics may prime educators to make prior judgments about students’ capabilities and character.”
Further Information EditLib offers free access to several interesting case studies on the use of learning analytics. Review these papers from past AACE conferences to gain an idea how educational data mining is applied in practice:
Posted in AACE