Technology, Resources and Innovation

David Porter, Lena Patterson, Chris Fernlund
eCampus Ontario  - Rethinking

eCampus Ontario - owned by 45 universities and colleges in Ontario, funded by the provincial government

As we move forward, tech and learning will be forever inter-related. You won’t be able to get away from that idea.  We are focusing a lot on faculty and rethinking the attributes faculty will need in order to be successful in the future: teaching for learning, curating, etc. (photo)

‘Rethinking’ is our thene, rething resources, learning, etc.

Lena - Learning Resources

We’re working to redefine and adapt open educational resources. These are defined by a set of ‘5R’ permissions that allow you to reuse them. ODERs have a huge impact on students, both in access and affordability. We’ve impacted 5,000 students nd saved them $400K.

What happens when we bring teaching and learning into the open. We explored this in March at OCAD University. The government oook notice, announcing an additional $1M for open creation nand adaptation in key communities.

We also have the open textbook library. Students can quickly find the text they need. But we’re thinking beyond discoverability - we want them to be able to adapt and contextualize. Also, our partnership with Ryerson is for Ontario right now, but what does it look like when you work beyond borders?

Chris - Learning Experiences

We cannot understand learning experiences without consulting with the students. So we strategically cultivated student thought, integrating them into the learning design process. We launched an SXD studio - ‘student experience design’ - and threw students into the design process, connected them with vendors, and launched an SXD lab for prototyping and testing ideas. They adhere to a strick design ideation process so they don’t just jump to solutions. So students now drive a number of initiatives at eCampus Ontario.

David - Recognition of Learning

Students learn other things outside formal learning which are not recognized, eg. Volunteer experience. With we have build an open badge system for Ontario. We have 10 pilots running right now to build other ways of recognizing students. It’s also a focus for the research organizations in the province.

What we’re aiming for is what we call the t-shaped student. Cross-domain skills and attutudes with deep knowledge in a central area. The 3DCV - capacity, resilience, etc.

Heather Cole and Katherine Prescott
Designing Artificially Intelligent Simulations for Academic professional Education

(Katherine Prescott presenting) Our practitioners need to be able to develop inter-personal relationships. Traditional programs tend to focus on subject knowledge because it’s easy to teach and assess. But we incorporate the other elements into our learning through things like cases or role playing. But their use in online learning is challenging and we observe students graduating without these critical skills.

This outlines a simulation development process in law. There are four stages: design, development, implement and improve.

The design stage includes the following: learning outcomes, leading to assessment, leading to scenario development. We found that developers got bogged down trying to incorporate legal facts into the scenarios. So we weren’t focused on developing substantive knowledge, but rather, critical (relationship) skills for these simulations.

The development stage is handled by Ametros Learning using IBM Watson, taking professional knowledge and converting it into an interactive simulation. Initially, it’s a text-based simulation. We hope students will approach the simulation as though it were a client meeting, with the computer responding. We know in other scenarios Watson has been very effective. The development stage is accompanied with an iterative testing process.

In the implementation face, we use it in teaching. The plan is to pilot the simulation in a first year law class ‘introduction to legal skills’. We also hope to implement the tool in clinic programs - Queens offers five legal clinics in the community.

Finally, the improvement stage involves the gathering of data to revise, expand the program and inform progress. We hope for more expanded simulations, and maybe to incorporate some of the domain-specific law knowledge. Also, the evaluation can identify potential gaps in the knowledge., eg. Maybe we need additional diversity training.

In the future we hope to engage with colleagues at the national and international level. They may help us test, implement and improve our solution. We’re also looking at extending into other professions - medicine, engineering and business, for example. This may give us the opportunity to include interactions with many professions all at once.

Stephen Laster
The Fundamental Promise of Ed Tech

I was dyslexic and frankly hated school. I couldn’t learn standing at the chalkboard because I wrote my letters backward.

We are at a interesting moment in time. People presenting are in the thick of it - at McGraw Hill we are an enabler, but you are the producer.

The point is, how many of you could go back to your office and produce a really engaging and successful learning experience? Few? None? How do you solve for the costs and difficulty?

With additional cost, if you create additional access, and scale, that’s called investment, and it’s OK. But if we increase costs without results, that’s not OK.

If we can use AI to take someone who is afraid of math and give them continuous feedback and help them learn, that is impressive. Story of his daughter using the tech to improve learning.

Take that base scaffolding and then wrap a learning community around it, based on great teaching, great technology, and the power it provides. I see that technology today, in pockets. It’s here. I saw eg. A talk in 2001 where predictions of 5 years were made - 5 years later none of them case true.

We could develop courses by ourselves pre-technology. Now we can’t? How can we drive down costs? It’s still too hard to assemble things together.

It’s still too hard to assemble meaningful learning experiences. So - how do we drive down the cost of content production, and how do we make sharing easier. That’s what I think about, esp. technology standards. I believe our success is built on the lego model. I look at IMS global - taking your preferred constellation of learning tools.

It all sounds boring - but how many of you use instant messaging or email today? Consider all the problems today - gradebooks, identity, etc. The stovepipe innovations - why are you settling for it? If you stay with the stovepipes, nothing will be accomplished. We have all the technology, but we just aren’t demanding it yet.

Think of the future where Stephen is the online learner who only thinks in pictures. This works for software quite well - but imagine knowing that ten years earlier.

Think about: what are you doing to demand, not just OER, but for interoperability where all this becomes easier. So it’s not a question of getting the campus to adopt technology, but so that it’s just easy.

Mohamed Ally and Norine Wark
Mobile Learning to Improve Access to Education

Maybe 80 million people in the world without access to education. That means 190 million schools, $250 billion, and a million teachers. So the question is, is the traditional model the best way to approach education?

Reference: the Incheon Declaration & Framework for Action: by 2030 ensure equal access to all women and men to education. How can we do that with the present education system?
They came up with strategies that include distance education, OERs, online learning, MOOC, etc. We need to work with UNESCO to help them achieve their goal by 2030. Without mobile technology it will be impossible to reach their goal.

Yes, we need improved access. Some schools are just desks and chairs. Some risk their lives to get to school. It doesn’t make sense - we have technology, we have learning materials - why not provide these to the students?

Some projects we’re involved in:
  • Tablets in remote locations in Pakistan referenced this morning - we gave tablets & provide teacher training in the Swat Valley. We reported on student disabilities - with tablets they could expand the text
  • Smartphones in the distributed workplace in Qatar - many workers in Qattar are expats and their first language is not English - so we used pps to help them learn while they worked
  • 3D glasses and tablets in augmented reality in the workplace doing the evaluation of this project now
  • Various mobile devices in graduatelevel DE programs, a SSHRC project - measuring cognitive, emotional and teaching presences. We noticed during the study students shifted from Backberry-Apple to Android. We studied compatibility issues and notice the change in instructor attitudes, improvements to Moodle, and new educational apps, all in three years.
  • 2year SSHRC funded collaborative Literacy Uplift app for Canadian adult learners. It’s a device-agnostic cross-platform application for adults with low literacy skills.
In 2012 Wu and colleagues completed a major mobile learning metastudy collecting 164 studies. Most reported positive outcomes (95%).


How we can provide education for all so we can have peace around the world. OER will help make education affordable, and mobile learning will make learning accessible. Eg. CoL Aptus device by Commonwealth of Learning.


Question: How can we assess the attainment of critical skills from simulations? Answer: not sure. We have colleagues in medicine who are very experienced with simulations, so we have some expertise we can tap into. Critical skills are not easy to assess, and it takes time to acquire them.

Question: is the acceptance of mobile learning related to age? Answer: we find ore acceptance with younger kids than older generation. Mostly because screen size on mobile is very small. But because of 3D glasses, you can use that and have a full-screen projection, so tech is changing.

Question: thoughts on how to drive costs of content production down. Answer: learning experiences are dynamic. Costs are: curation, chunking, and production of visual assets. There are opportunities in all three of those areas. Eg. First two, standardization and taxonomies can really hep.

Question: facilitating minority language access in Manitoba. Answer: area of interest for eCampus Ontario, looking for indigenous and French-language material.

Question: how do you plan to scale the SXD initiative? Answer: it’s an experiment. Still just kicking the idea around, first with a kickstarter event, and now into the lab process. All these projects upon completion will be openly licenszed.


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