Government Elearning! Magazine

DEC 2015 - JAN 2016

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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Page 18 of 51

Governement Elearning! Winter 2016 19 methodology continues to be a very suc- cessful approach. Inspiring stories were shared, like a fre- man who locked himself in his bedroom for two years, studying Sal's video "pearls," until he was able to go on to college and reach his lifelong dream to become a math teacher. Today, he's an eighth-grade math teacher living his personal dream. Many more people have come forward to tell how their lives were changed by Khan Academy's approach to learning. In my mind, this is a great testimonial of how we can use simple, existing technology to help solve at least the frst leg of this battle, the "mastery learning" teaching methodology. Sal's work has helped to throw the whole e-learning industry into high gear. Sal understood the mastery learning notion, intuitively, and he used YouTube technology and e-learning teaching tools to accomplish his goals. Tat same level of mastery would be very difcult in a conventional classroom with- out the use of technology. You would have to focus your pace on the slowest learner, by topic, to avoid leaving learners behind. But that's not fair to the fast learners. So the solution has always been to "keep on going," using a model that's too fast for one-third of the class, too slow for another third, and about right for the remaining third. Tese classroom shortcomings have caught the attention of many of our political leaders — some more than others. And that added attention and discussion is also fueling the EdTech investment space, as we seek to fnd better answers to teaching and learning. But here's where we need to be a bit more cautious and think through our solutions a bit more carefully, armed with work like Bloom performed. Just because we can do something with technology doesn't mean that it's going to work out of the gate. Consider how a "live" MOOC operates (Massive Open Online Course). Isn't that simply the classroom model on technologi- cal steroids? One-to-thousands seems to completely sidestep the need for the one- to-one mentoring that really helps students thrive. Could this be one of the elements that added to the high dropout rate? Prob- ably, along with the need for some creden- tialing upon completion. But don't despair. MOOCs are fguring it out. Let's take a look as some of the solu- tions that have arrived. I'm going to skip by the massive "ofce hours" model that everyone has seen, and I'm going to throw Udemy and Udacity into this discussion mix. Tis somewhat expands the defnition of MOOCs, but I think it will help us see how other solutions are forming. Both Udemy and Udacity deliver courses to the thousands, just like Sal Khan, and just like the original MOOCs did. Tey all use the one-to-many model. So how are these players helping students thrive? Udemy puts a lot of the responsibility on the instructors to provide that one-to-one support when a student gets stuck. Udemy uses a text-based question and answer seg- ment throughout the course. And, consider- ing the myriad of time zones, that's a pretty heavy burden for an instructor. But the instructors do take that role on, lest they get a bad course rating from a student. A bad rating afects their sales for that course. So in this model, there's an inherent reward for doing the extra one-on-one mentoring. It's not perfect, however. Sometimes it can take 24 hours before you get your answer, and it may not be the one that gives you that "ah-ha." Te only other alternatives to wait- ing for a 24-hour reply are to (1) pause your learning; or (2) start Googling for answers — if you can't aford to stop. So that's one type of solution that I'll call "continuous ofce hours." Te notion starts to change the instructor's role: "If I don't have to teach every day, then I guess my role is going to move more towards the tu- toring and mentoring side of the equation." But we like that, right? Tink about the "fipped classroom," where students listen to recorded video lectures at night and then spend the class time "discussing and doing." Lot's more fun for everyone. But are there other technology-enabled solutions bubbling up in the mix? It looks like Udemy and Udacity are both trying to improve on the one-to-many model by using partners and formal call-in centers that are continuously stafed. Udemy announced in December 2015 that it was creating a partnership with Codementor to provide one-on-one live tutoring for their coding classes. And back in 2013, Udacity had already introduced its own team of call- in coaches. Tey were using text chat, video calls, and even phone calls to solve the one- to-one mentoring problem. Te downside will be whether the people providing that coaching understand the course's content and the instructor's method of teaching con- cepts. But that's part of the requirement to provide this type of solution. So I think you can see the importance of the 2 Sigma Problem to these new business Conventional 1-30# Summative Achievement Scores #Teacher-student ration Mastery Learning 1-30# Tutorial 1-1# Source ( FIGURE 1. Achievement distribution for students under conventional, mastery learning, and tutorial instruction.

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