It’s only February and 2015 is already shaping up to be a watershed year for Acrobatiq. We finished 2014 very strong by releasing major enhancements to our personalized learning platform, and further enriching the data insights available to faculty using The Learning Dashboard. In October 2014, we were honored to be selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to receive a Next Generation Courseware Challenge Grant which we plan to use to significantly enhance our current courseware, and to fund the development of new courseware for pre calculus. In addition to pre calculus, we also announced we would be expanding our courseware portfolio with the addition of 25 more adaptive courseware products — many targeted at the largest general education “gateway” courses and available by this summer, in time for fall classes.
Here’s a look forward into what else we’ve got planned in 2015:
New Courseware Enhancements
As part of the Next Generation Courseware Challenge grant, Acrobatiq is significantly enhancing our adaptive courseware with more dynamic media to deepen engagement and enrich the student learning experience. Examples of dynamic media elements include:
- Self-contained “mini” presentations that guide students through a concept using interactive images and formative assessment
- Interactive images with call-outs, hotspots and “pan and zoom” features that allow students to explore topics from multiple perspectives
- Expanding photo galleries highlighting time-lapsed events that can be viewed in-line, as part of a narrative, or full-screen
- More video and animation to help simplify difficult concepts and boost student achievement and engagement
Here’s a peek at the hotspot feature:
Many of the new dynamic elements also include clickable anchor points to formative assessment activities so students have ample opportunity to practice skills and demonstrate learning mastery.
Acrobatiq also is developing an additional range of assessments that will provide even more flexibility for instructors who want to use our courseware in traditional classroom settings as a textbook replacement or as part of a hybrid or even fully online course. Examples of these new assessment types include:
- Personalized, adaptive exercises emphasizing synthesis and application of concepts added to the end of each module. These personal practice sessions can be graded, or not.
- Scored summative, item-based module-level quizzes and unit-level tests. Enough items will be developed to support multiple attempts for both quizzes and tests.
New Courseware, Coming Summer 2015
Helping institutions improve course completions and shorten time-to-degree are central to what we do. In order to provide students with a productive pathway to program completion, with the most flexible options, we are developing personalized, adaptive courseware for many of the largest “gateway” courses. These courses often become the bottleneck for students working toward a degree or certificate. By offering students more choice in delivery modalities, institutions can dramatically improve the chances of students progressing and graduating on time.
New Courseware Authoring Environment
Critical to courseware adoption and usage by faculty is the ability to easily remix or adapt courseware to match specific instructional needs or desired delivery modalities. Many instructors would like to use digital courseware in both on-ground and online teaching modalities, but need assistance to overcome set-up, delivery, and content challenges.
Here at Acrobatiq we’re taking on those challenges. By systematically developing from the ground up a new courseware authoring environment, we can help teaching faculty, TA’s, or an instructional design team to develop comprehensive, integrated courseware based on the Acrobatiq course-design methodology, grounded in learning science.
Features of the authoring environment include:
- A simple interface, based on the proven Open Learning Initiative course design methodology to author or edit learning objectives, skills, and expository content, in addition to coordinating formative/summative assessment items
- Twenty-four different activity types including not only the basic tools such as multiple choice and drag n’ drop, but also more sophisticated tools that will really stretch creative instructional design such as the ability to make basic images interactive
- Functionality enabling the addition of self-made video clips captured from almost any device, or the addition of links to videos on YouTube and other sources.
Here’s a sneak peek at the new courseware authoring environment:
New Acrobatiq Enterprise Learning Platform Developments
The Learning Dashboard™
Over the last several months, we have iteratively released enhancements to The Learning Dashboard. These improvements help instructors, course mentors, and course designers get even more insight from the data, and provide tighter integration with leading Learning Management Systems.
New Data Card “How Well Are My Students Self-Assessing?” This new data card asks students to rate their confidence level in their learning on a scale of 1-5 and to provide feedback on areas within the course where they may be struggling. Instructors can pin this card to their dashboard as an easy way to see ongoing and topic-specific feedback from students.
Improved Data Organization
The overall look and feel of the Learning Dashboard is more streamlined with the most common questions about student learning performance organized in one trim column. Users simply click on a data card or a question to see the data insight rendered in a visual graphic. The data can also be viewed and sorted in table format.
Learning data can also be manipulated in the following ways:
- Pare down the data based on parameters, such as population (all or selected students), time, learning objective, location in course (units or modules), and more
- Switch between graphical and table views of the data
- Filter the data when it’s displayed as a data table
- Export the data by printing, creating a PDF, creating a CSV-format spreadsheet, or by copying the data to your clipboard so you can paste it into an existing document or email
- Add an at-a-glance card to the default dashboard
Over the next year, we will continue to make iterative improvements to both the underlying statistical models that generate the learning data, and to the data visualization tables.
What Our Learning Scientists Are Researching
Creating more personalized learning experiences has been a recent theme for online educational resources. To date, the work in this area has focused on the following approaches to personalization: providing immediate feedback tailored to learner responses, selecting examples or contexts to match learner interests, and adjusting material (e.g., topics, problems) and/or support (e.g., degree of scaffolding, problem difficulty) to fit learners’ current knowledge. It is noteworthy, however, that online educational resources have not yet incorporated the rich literature on human individual differences to create additional modes of personalized, adaptive learning.
The goal of individual differences research is to identify and measure particular features of the student that are relatively stable across time and consistent across contexts, and then study their effects on performance, learning, and other behaviors (e.g., Jonassen & Grabowski, 1993; Snow, 1986). This work has included studying an individual’s personality, memory, sensory sensitivity, motivation, and various beliefs about the self. By measuring these individual difference parameters for each learner working in an online environment, we can better account for a significant source of variation in learners’ responses and behaviors, and, in turn, more precisely estimate their learning states, select more targeted instructional interventions and support, and provide more tailored advice and recommendations.
Look for more information in the coming months on how we plan to incorporate parameters of individual difference into our learning model to more precisely estimate the learner’s knowledge state, and further personalize and adapt content, pedagogy, and learning strategies for each learner.
So I hope this gives you a good overview of where we’re headed over the next six to eight months. If you have questions, or would like to reach me directly to discuss these or other topics of interest, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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