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What will student life be like in five years?

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What will student life be like in five years?
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Picture of Cath EllisThe most interesting presentation of at this year's MoodlePosium in Canberra, Australia was that given by Assoc. Prof. Cath Ellis (@cathellis13) of UNSW. The presentation was titled 'Lessons from the Future' and it describes a potential educational setting in five years time (2019). The scenario is fictional and told from the perspective of three student characters, but the story is based on literature and research (a bibliography was provided).

A number of technologies suggested in the story are already possible in Moodle, such as sharing recorded lectures, alerts for grading feedback, structured feedback, draft submissions, peer feedback,... but perhaps they could be simplified. Some of the other ideas are institutional or happening outside the LMS.

The areas that interest me most are the ones which are still requiring research before they can be developed. What made Cath's presentation so interesting was that she was able to envisage practical use of technologies that people want, but have not yet articulated.

  • A learning dashboard containing
    • student grade trends and
    • grade comparisons with peers, including habits of high-performing students.
  • Reports of student attention to feedback
    • with analysis of course-wide patterns in feedback
    • available to current teachers and teachers later during subsequent grading.
  • Adaptive testing that hones in on students' problem areas.
  • Ability to self-evaluate submitted work.
  • Tools that identify surface learning including
    • statistics on recorded lecture viewing including viewing duration and
    • social network analysis showing peer interactions.

The presentation was recorded and is really worth watching. The video below is the entire presentation and Cath's story begins about 5:40min in.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think the education setting will be like in five years?
  • What research is needed to achieve the future educational technologies suggested by Cath?
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Re: What will student life be like in five years?

What do you think the education setting will be like in five years?

Education setting, in regard to Higher Education/University Education spanning five years?

Well Moodle 1.9 ish was around five years ago.  So, since then introduction of Web five years time we should have Web 3 comfortably established and a joined up approach for learning and teaching that connects data/information/analytics/communication across agents to support learning.  

What I mean, is that information-sharing could/should be seamless  (meaning access to the student's holistic learning development/trajectory is available to a wide range of agents such as, the student/employability-training agents/lecturers/admin/student liaison agents etc). 

I am talking about Semantic web technologies, as outlined for practice in Cath's narrative, which she informed by student-voice.  Such semantic web technologies could/should drive forward M-learning opportunities if we are to agree that learner/student engagement/experience does not necessarily start and stop in the lecture theatre.  

 What research is needed to achieve the future educational technologies suggested by Cath?

1. Cath spoke about personalised learning and immediacy in terms of providing the student with up-to-the minute personal development information/progress as well as keeping the learner informed.  So, research that focuses on the student experience with educational technologies is essential-as ever.

2. Online peer-review/support and related research might focus on pedagogical strategies that provide opportunities for this type of engagement-having the tools to do so in Moodle is a great idea. Really offers an agentive/ownership-type of approach for the learner.

3. A focus on skill development was the core theme in Cath's presentation.  Never mind the domain, all case studies in the story had a major thing in common and that was the need for development in skill-set, both academic and in soft skills for the world of work.  This area can, and should be addressed in Moodle given the pedagogical implications that underpin its tools. Currently, other software on the market is not joined up enough, for example the inclusion of rote practice tests that fail to support application.

4. Future educational technologies might focus on handing over the management of learning to the learner, certainly in terms of personalised dashboards that can be connected up-anonymously too. And, I am still on my best behaviour-just a slip on the way....why do we call Moodle an LMS?  Ergo, the concept of an LMS might be re-considered in terms of the teacher/learner balance. Research about that has started...I know the gradebook research project gauged student voice too. Much more needed in that direction.

5. MCQs/Multi choice quizzes  are always going to be popular-that will not go away, certain subjects rely on them for an iterative approach in learning and best practice combines them with case study obs/analysis.  The inbuilt differentiation is a superb idea for future research in terms of Moodle, I think. Such algorithims as in the CATs scores are not new....but I am not sure how prevalent they are in terms of usage in the university sector....I am sure Tim is up to speed on this. But, this area in terms of research might be fruitful for Moodle/future ed technologies. 

6.   E-text books........I am going to move on, I struggle with the whole concept to be honest.

7. Getting students to read and act on assessment feedback-I am sure Moodle are aware of the many opportunities for development with this with regard to Web 3 possibilities.... how that is meted out? Well research, I suggest is a must.

8. Cath made a pertinent point at the end, not all students enjoy social learning (am not that keen myself-but can do it).   And as Cath noted, this can be for a number of reasons, so there needs to be a selection of tools that achieve the same end-in different ways...offering the learner choice in how to engage in order to excel. Again back to the notion of personalised learning.




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