Quick Post Hub

Thanks for a great class on Wednesday, and thanks to those who have visited me during office hours. I’ve found the conversations about your projects inspiring and thought-provoking. I hope that others will take time to met with Chris, John, Doug or myself in the days ahead. (If you have any trouble signing up for office hours in Canvas, just shoot any of us an email.)

Looking ahead to next week:

Panel on the Future of Higher Education: We have a blockbuster panel for next week: edX President Anant Agarwal, Harvard Vice Provost Peter Bol, and MIT ODL Director Sanjay Sarma. The topic, “The Future of Higher Education.”

Let’s begin crowd-souring some questions using the question tool: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/questions/t509massive

Also, as an experiment, I’m going to ask that people put away laptops and devices during the panel. It make for an unfriendly view from the dais. If a couple students want to volunteer to take notes to share, that’s fine.

Readings- I added Anant’s TED talk to the syllabus.

Survey– If you haven’t yet, please take the mid-course survey.

Final Project Description Rubric- For Wednesday, please resubmit your updates project description and rubric in the Canvas assignment under Week 8.  Simply revise your draft with new rubric criteria, new expectations, and an update on your progress.

Project Updates– This week and next, for lab/section time, we’ll break into groups and discuss project updates. If you can bring something “prototype-y” to show people. An outline, a wire frame, a rough cut, a draft, that will enrich the conversation.

That’s all for now. If you have questions, let me know.

ZOMG! I have so many thoughts for you. I’ll try to be concise with the essential ones. They are in order of descending importance.


Remember that by Friday at 11:59pm you should submit your Project Update/Deliverables/Rubric. You will have a chance to change and update in October, but be as precise as you can now about what you might do. You need to do this on time because the subsequent peer assessment depends upon it. If you are in a group, every member of the group should submit an identical proposal, so that everyone gets asked to complete two peer evaluations.

An Important Clarification about the November 19 Presentations

I have not yet adequately described the format of the presentations on November 19. I’ll add it to the syllabus, but for now, let me describe here. Basically, the presentation format will be a kind of poster faire. We’ll break into two groups, and half of people will wander about talking to colleagues and the other half will staff tables with posters, laptops, and so forth. You will have a chance to have lots of short interactions one-on-one or one-on-few with the teaching team, classmates, and guests. So you won’t get up and do a 5-minute presentation in front of everyone, rather, you’ll get a chance to share a nugget with lots of small groups. After an hour, we’ll switch who is presenting and who is wandering. So that may be helpful as you think about what your presentation criteria should be like. Think about something that people can do or see.

DUE Wednesday

Then, on Saturday at midnight, you should be able to log into canvas (canvas.harvard.edu) and access the two peer projects to give feedback on. The rubric for giving feedback should automagically pop up for you, but if you have questions, please let me know. Please complete this feedback by Wednesday.

The rest of readings and assignments should be both modest and straightforward. Thanks for experimenting with the peer assessment system with us.

Follow up from last week’s class

1) An Apology- First, I’m very grateful to those of you who described your difficulties in finding and completing the quizzes. I apologize for making light of the fact that some people didn’t do them, when it was in fact my fault for not being more clear in both the description of the activity and the syllabus. You should be able to go back and do the questions. Hopefully, it’s a lesson in how different people interpret and experience the same platform.

2) Why did we study IRT– I’m not sure I explained to my satisfaction why we studied IRT, and there are several reasons. The first is simply that I’m trying to design the course so that we immerse ourselves in a variety of modalities, and IRT lent itself well to a video-quiz-discussion-classfollowup format. It was a good topic to xplore in an xMOOC kind of way. Second, I wanted you to understand that when you hear people talking about “adaptive testing” in computer-aided instruction, that it’s not techno-babble beyond the realm of human comprehension. There is a logic underneath it that isn’t so hard to conceptually understand, and if you understand how it works and what it’s doing, you can understand what it might be good for an what some of the problems might be. You might understand better for instance, why the opportunity to more “efficiently” test student proficiency might be a good fit with a vision of personalization that tries to optimize individual paces and pathways through content; or you might understand better why a teacher can’t just build their own adaptive testing system–since it depends upon large items banks normed on many students. Third, I also wanted you to ask a question that Lucas asked “Is modern technology necessary for IRT? It seems like an old idea that intelligent tutors have just made more accessible.” IRT is indeed older than some of you, dating back to the 80s–and it’s been used (and adapted and improved) in intelligent tutors like Cognitive Tutor for many years. Khan Academy’s use of adaptive testing is a continuation of past efforts, not a new initiative.

I hope you understand IRT well enough to articulate something like “IRT is a statistical toolkit that characterizes uses qualities of test items. By creating measures of difficulty and discrimination of test items, we can compare test items, compare test takers who take different items, and we can be more efficient in using items to precisely characterize student proficiency.” But as will discuss next week, there are certain kinds of items that lend themselves better to large-scale assessment than others!

We will continue these discussions into next week, as we think more about self-assessment, peer-assessment, and machine-learning.

3) Personalization If you were thinking, “Gosh, this weekend I totally wish I could listen to Justin natter on for an hour about Personalization in education” I added this to the Rabbit Hole viewings for last week, Personalized Learning, Backpacks Full of Cash, Rockstar Teachers, and MOOC Madness.

4) Thank you I’m having a lovely time getting to know you, getting challenged by your thinking, and hearing about your projects and interests. Thank you! See you Wednesday.

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Thanks for another great class session. There is a lot of work to do to get a participatory class like this off the ground, but it’s exciting to see. We’re getting work done in three dimensions:
  1. We’re developing a shared understanding of the field, by examining its history and some of the contours of present-day learning; 
  2. We’re exploring possibilities for deep investigation by proposing projects; and
  3. We’re building our technical capacity for a shared platform for networked learning by developing our own spaces on the web, with blogs and Twitter 

We’ll continue each week to journey down these three pathways, of shared ideas, projects, and online discourse. It’s more moving pieces that a typical course, but I have every confidence that you will make it worth the investment.

In reflecting on our last class, I hope you’ll take a moment to see how Audrey Watters posted notes from our conversation at her Hack Education blog: http://hackeducation.com/2014/09/10/teaching-machines-teaching-at-scale/. Audrey provides a great example about how a learning experience based in a residential classroom can be a contribution to a broader learning network. She took her talk notes and slides and wove them together into an extended blog post. She also took our tweets from the session, which represented some of your questions and highlighted thoughts, and organized them in a Storify page. The storify has been viewed over 600 times in 18 hours, and link to the blog post has been retweeted 50+ times. What could have been an experience solely limited to the fifty of us in the room, has been made accessible for hundreds or thousands more.

I find this kind of shared educational production quite moving.

To Prepare for Next Week

By the end of today (Friday), you should have either filled our the partner survey or completed proposing an independent project or conducting a partner project. I’m hoping that by Monday I can give you all feedback on the process. It’s been incredibly excited to discuss your interests and read about your ideas.

As always, take a few minutes to check the t509massive hashtag, and this week definitely visit the Blog Hub, which has about 10 blogs from class syndicated so far. Some great initial thoughts and reflections from your classmates! (Also, consider signing up to bring snacks.)
Class on Wednesday will be in the lecture hall from 4-6pm. Then from 6-7:30, we’ll run a series of optional sessions to help support your project work. More details on this as we learn more about your projects. We’re trying to develop learning opportunities to support you in real time.

***I’ve changed the syllabus slightly for next week****

  • I added as a requirement for class Wednesday that you complete the Blog Challenges as best you can. Please try to have submitted your blog URL for syndication by Wednesday. If you need help, we’ll run some social media extra help clinics before and after class on Wednesday. Come by G-08 at 3pm, or stay later.
  • I added one Rabbit Hole reading: the Connected Learning Report from the Connected Learning Alliance. If you are a K-12 or informal ed person, I recommend it very highly.
  • I moved the DS106 Daily Create assignment from Required to Rabbit Hole. But they are fun. 
  • I moved the Participation Proposal and Rubric to be due Friday, instead of Wednesday. But start it before class. Describe how you want to contribute to our online learning network. Describe how you would like to evaluate your contributions. What would awesome look like?

Tweet or email if you need help getting it all sorted out. We’re building a strong foundation for the rest of the semester!