Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hacking University Math: Yes We Khan!

Hacks -- the successful ones anyway -- typically mashup existing technologies in innovative but attainable ways to produce real change. So I'm taking the opportunity of presenting my education hack to you all here at FutureTense:Hacking the University Ed very seriously. It's a golden opportunity for me -- say my hack were to match the resources and interest of enough of you here today to make it happen! That would be change we could believe in -- a much faster change than we've come to expect from the academy at scale.

My colleague Johnny McCoy says it pretty well here, I think. Our academic institutions oftentimes feel maddeningly slow to change. Our schools do so many things so well that we have a natural concern to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water. Take that reasonable concern and combine it with the interlocking web of interests and traditions that seem to cement our current practices in place, and it can be hard to see how and when real change could ever come.

This patient, forgiving-looking man is Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, architect of the New American University. At last weeks EdTech summit in Scottsdale, President Crow asserted that the principal obstacle to obtaining the significant improvements to educational outcomes that we are all seeking is CULTURE CHANGE. The technologies are here, the investment is here, the desire is here. What's to often missing are the levers needed to change the culture.

An example will serve to prove the point. Consider the great store that educational reformers, myself included, put in the potential of adaptive technologies to personalize education. Adaptive, personalized education is one of those things it's hard to be against. Big data and other machine learning techniques are producing such wonders (Watson, Google Predictive Search, etc) that proponents expect adaptivity to dramatically change the effectiveness of education -- by providing teachers and students with unprecedented insight into student understanding over time and making truly personalized learning paths practical. Fans like me not only point to the effectiveness of today's technology, but expect great things to come, as these technologies evolve over the next several years -- as databases of student learning grow; as BigData and other machine learning approaches advance; as human experience with their effective application grows over time. Not everyone agrees, but among those who do much is expected.

Which is why Math is such an important bellweather. If adaptive technologies are going to live up to their promise and make substantial improvement possible, we will see that progress first in Math -- before all other subjects. Math is such an important human capability, the gateway to deep understanding of science, engineering, and computing. Math is the very basis of rational thinking, the one discipline that all the peoples of the earth agree upon, precisely, to the very last letter. Its the language that computers speak natively. So much more cut-and-dried than other areas of human activity, Math is uniquely suited to machine evaluation and machine guidance. If computer tutors are going to help us learn anything -- we will see the evidence in Math first.So, when's that going to happen?

I think it may have already happened. Education may already have seen its first Napster moment, that moment when a new technology blows open an established practice by operating at a new level of scale -- think of the rise of Wikipedia. In August of 2013, the Khan Academy released a new capability. Moving beyond the library of low-production value, high explanatory-value videos that the Khan Academy use to explain most of math (and several other subjects besides) to millions of learners, the Khan team released a basic adaptive math tutor -- operating at Internet scale, offered to the world, for free. Since its release just 8 months ago, already millions of students have used the Khan Academy to improve their performance in mathematics. Many have used it in school, but many, many more have used it on their own, as a supplement to the other ways they have of learning math. These students come from all over the world -- from all over the internet, anyway. The Khan Academy tools are available to anyone with an Internet connected device -- say an ipad, a Chromebook, a web browser on a laptop, or a phone. That's all anyone on Earth needs to get access to this adaptive computer tutor.

The tutor poses problem after problem, exploring the depth of your understanding -- incrementally challenging you along your own path. It patiently watches you do every problem, keeps track of how many attempts you make, how many you times you get one right, how many times you get one wrong, how often you say "I don't know", or "This is too easy", how often you ask for a hint, and how often those hints help you get the right answer. Gradually, student by student, problem by problem, day by day, the Khan Learning Dashboard is itself learning, amassing the largest, most detailed, most valuable database of human learning behavior ever assembled. And they're just getting started...

The Khan Learning Dashboard understands the connections between the concepts in math. It is aware of the pre-requisite dependencies that govern the feasible paths to mathematical understanding. In addition to using those relationships to create a personalized learning path for each student, the Khan Learning Dahsboard provides detailed progress information to students and their coaches, providing learners and teachers with a more complete picture of each student's understanding than traditional tests and homework can provide.

The Khan Academy is on its way to becoming one of the great Internet Utilities -- one in a family of unbelievably valuable, and often technically complex and expensive tools -- that are provided to all the citizens of the Internet for free. Tools like Wikipedia, GoogleSearch, Twitter, Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, Facebook that are so useful, so valuable, and yet so free!!

Based on a donation model and backed by some of the largest educational foundations in the world -- the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation first among them -- the Khan Academy is uniquely positioned to provide this core Internet utility at no marginal cost -- making it a friction-free choice for educators at every scale, every grade, around the world. If Khan's team continues to execute, there's no reason the Khan Academy can't stand right next to Wikipedia on the world's electronic bookshelf as one of the greatest educational resources of all time.

It's important to understand Khan as an Internet Utility, because it's important to consider not only what the Dashboard is capable of today, but also how rapidly it can be expected to evolve year over year. It's not just about what the LearningDashboard can do today; it's about how it will increase in capability as API's are established, as the database grows, as the machine intelligence learns, and as the human pedagogical practices that surround its use expand and improve through shared experience.

I can't say how much better Math teaching will get. I can't tell you what the technologies that ultimately grow from these roots will be like, or exactly what they will be capable of. But I expect them to get a lot better, and quite quickly. Who expected Assasin's Creed when they first saw Pong? But if the exact form of progress is unpredictable, the magnitude of that progress seems completely predictable.

So, you ask, "What's preventing educators of all stripes from using the Khan Academy with their students, helping shape the development of this resource and contribute to the development of effective pedagogies that incorporate Khan's rapidly emerging, very promising tool?"The short answer is -- a fundamental change in the academic culture; a change in approach that acknowledges that explanations of complex concepts are no longer scarce, but plentiful -- moving a math teacher's primary locus of value away from being a lecturer and towards being a guide. Our experience at ASU tells us it is a profound cultural shift, but a rewarding one; a change with both room and promise for improvement.

"I'm sold", you say. "If only there were a vector for bringing the necessary cultural change about, to organically spread best practices, in a grassroots way; to form a coalition of the interested, the willing, and the able; a way to establish fruitful partnerships between Foundations and Universities to sponsor and support teams of educators, administrators and technical professionals, who come together to use the Khan Academy to help more students succeed in math -- and in the process collect, disseminate, and foster the improvement of those practices that prove to lead to enhanced student success."

Well, I have good news! There is just such a model, and copying it is the foundation of my educational hack. The model is the "Khan Academy in Idaho" initiative sponsored by the J.A and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. My hack is really simple -- that's what makes it feasible. It is to replicate the "Khan Academy in Idaho" model in every state in the Union -- Khan in Connecticut, Khan in Kansas, Khan in Colorado, Khan in Arizona. To combine, in every state, a local university with a strong commitment to computer-aided mathematics teaching and a strong tradition of outreach to k-12 teachers with a sponsoring Foundation, committed to making a meaningful contribution to the state's educational improvement at scale. The federated result will be a national guild of educators who have learned how to effectively use the growing body of machine intelligence to help more students succeed at mathematics; a guild, who will introduce a personalized, adaptive education culture into their local institutions.

We've seen higher education's technical culture changed by the introduction and rapid adoption of an emerging Internet Utility. Not so long ago, a university choosing a free, cloud-based email utility to replace their homegrown system was considered a risky move. Now it's de rigeur. It was a complicated cultural change and it happened much more quickly than most expected.

These Internet Utility models scale like nobody's business. All the investment happens at the center, in a concentrated way. So Internet utilities can fully exploit the advantages of cloud infrastructures; they can improve very rapidly and spread very fast. Cultures can change around the use of these public utilities, because all the users benefit from the central investments. For a thing like a personalized math tutor, the approach is perfect. More users brings more data. More data brings deeper understanding. Deeper understanding leads to better outcomes. Better outcomes bring more users. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The Khan in X "change model" relies on individual human decisions, made at various levels in the hierarchy -- but always from the bottom up. Not boards, corporations, lobbyists or legislatures, but Teachers, Principals, Superintendants and Technologists --- each deciding, within their own spheres of influence, to explore an approach that has worked elsewhere, in a situation that looks to them a lot like their own. A local foundation and a university can quickly form the nucleus around which a coalition of the interested, willing and able can assemble -- at nearly any level of math education. The "Khan Academy in Idaho" model lays out the basic blueprint. An online federation of "Khan in X" initiatives will make it possible to rapidly recognize and share a wide array of best practices -- old and new -- that can be shown to work to foster the success of an ever broader spectrum of learners.

So now is what we call in the pitching business the "altar call", where we find out if my pitch was compelling enough to get you to take action. To make it less embarrassing for all of us, let's just do it over Twitter. If you thought this pitch was worth ignoring, then just continue to ignore it. But if you were genuinely interested, please consider tweeting about it to your followers: maybe use the hashtag @sannier for criticism and #khanInIdaho for praise. If you're interested in learning how to help start a "KhanInX" chapter in your state, tweet me at @sannier #khanInIdaho. Follow those keywords and you can see how flat this pitch fell :-)

 

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Tour d' Abyss

The Best Denver Hikes ranks this route as their most difficult, but its completely non-technical.. It has one point of significant exposure, along the Sawtooth, at a gendarme at the crux of the craggy ridge between two 14ers, Bierstadt and Evans. Other than that 1 scary spot, I'm hoping it's a relatively easy route -- as long as you follow the cairns and don't get lost. Bring gloves of some kind to protect your hands I think.

The Tour d'Abyss goes in a clockwise loop, beginning from a small parking lot on the road up Mount Evans, at 13,300 feet, 2.3 miles above Summit Lake. If you think of the loop as a clock, the trailhead is at about 1 o'clock. You begin on a downslope, making your way down to the south side of the Abyss Lake Valley; 6 o'clock in the loop. Then you ascend across the "dented-in side" of the loop, to the summit of Bierstadt at 9 o'clock. Crossing the Sawtooth takes you from 9 to 11 o'clock. Once across, the ridge over to Evans passes through noon to about 1 o'clock. You finish up by descending Evans back to Summit Lake. Overall its 3000 feet of elevation gain and takes about 8 hours. It's only 6 miles all the way around. I figure we'll need a day that looks all clear and start down from Summit Lake sometime before 8 o'clock. If we get a day with an afternoon rain forecast, we'd need to start at least 2 hours earlier, and might have to be prepared to hole up at Mount Evans if a storm hits.

I've (illegally) included the trail description from Denver's Best Hikes. Seems totally doable, but the part through the Sawtooth sounds like it might be a little "bracing" if you're at all afraid of heights (as I freely admit to being).

 

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Will MOOC’s Change the Course Development Model ?

The course is in some sense the fundamental organizational unit of undergraduate education and the predominant mode of course development is the Sole Practitioner model. Most of the courses offered at American universities and community colleges are the unique work product of individual professors working alone. Though the typical course may leverage chapters from one or more published textbooks, the lion's share of the course -- the syllabus, the lectures, the assignments, the activities, the assessments -- are typically developed by the professor alone, or by the professor and a small group of her colleagues and perhaps a teaching assistant or two.

The rise of the Internet and the spread of personal computing devices over the past two decades has brought with it a rising expectation that courses somehow make use of these technologies to "improve" them. Nearly all U.S. institutions have made investments in learning management systems and other tools with the goal of helping individual faculty members incorporate technology within their courses as these individual professors see fit. A relative few have embraced the trend with abandon while others have adopted these new technologies only reluctanly, if at all. Most use technology to streamline administrative functions -- to metaphorically “pass the papers out at the beginning of class, and to collect them at the end”.

But whether the SolePractitioner is an early adopter or laggard, the fundamental scale for course development and improvement has remained unchanged. Courses today are still primarily developed one instructor at a time, and make use of technology to the degree that the individual instructor -- sometimes aided by an institutional support person or two -- can muster on their own. This limits how much intellectual and monetary investment any one course can receive.

In the past year, the sudden rise of the Massively Open Online Course (MOOC)  has presented a challenge to this SolePractitioner model of course development. In a MOOC, responsibility for course development lies not with the SolePractitioner but instead with a team of subject matter experts, instructional designers, videographers, content developers and technologists who work together to create and then continuously improve a complete course designed to teach not 10's or 100's of students at a time, but hundreds of thousands or even millions of students at a time.

At this new scale of instruction, the amount of monetary and intellectual investment that can be directed at the development and continuous improvement of the course may be orders of magnitude greater than what any individual professor could ever muster working on their own, even over the whole of their academic career.

Questions
Do these team-based, higher scale development models represent a lower cost, lower quality alternative to the Sole Practitioner model? Or are they the leading edge of a wave of change that might bring with it increases in effectiveness?

What effect will these emerging model have on institutions and faculty over the next 5 years? Can we expect major changes? Something more gradual? Or are MOOCs and Master Courses a fad?

Some of the strongest educational brands -- Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc. -- have moved aggressively in the past year to champion these new models, lending them a strong air of academic credibility. Are MOOCs only the province of the elite? What implications do they have for other kinds of schools?

What are the inherent advantages of course development at scale? Which things can be done better? Were these models to begin to seriously displace the Sole Practitioner model, what would be gained? What would be lost? Can they be effectively combined to create something superior to the current state of the educational art? Or do they threaten to destroy a tradition of quality?

How might MOOCs be similar to textbooks? How are they dissimilar? How might they be better? How might they be worse?

If these new models spread, what effect will they have on today's institutions and faculty? What opportunities will they create? What might they destroy?

How are things like Open Educational Resources, the Khan Academy and the Flipped Classroom model related to the MOOC?

At present, MOOCs are offered at high scale (serving tens to hundreds of thousands of students at a time) but at no cost. While in the early stages, venture capital funding has allowed intensive investments to be made -- in the long term this is unsustainable in the absence of new business models. What is the role of the market in facilitating this move to scale? How can such a market develop? What changes would faculty, institutions, and education companies have to make to foster such a market?

Are these new approaches suitable for only certain disciplines? More appropriate for lower division than upper division?

If complete digital courses do become available, what would become of the university bookstore? Are institutions prepared to deal with the disruptions a transition from print to digital might entail?

 As a faculty member, what do these new models mean for me? Can I safely ignore them, and continue on as I have? Do they create any new opportunities for me? How might they change my role in instruction? If they were to bring about significant change in how courses are developed and delivered, will I like my job better or worse?

Clearly there are a lot of issues that this raises and I hope we can get a lively discussion going around the possibilities.


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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

James Taylor - RockStarTeacher

I've only really had a single goal with the guitar since I first picked one up at age 12. I've always wanted to be able to play like James Taylor. I like other music, even other guitarists. But I would die a happy man if I could play a reasonable facsimile of a few of my favorite JT songs. I realize it's a narrow musical goal, but it's what I've always wanted.

I've spent a lot of time playing in my life. I've had teachers, I've bought books, I've played with friends. I've proven to be a pretty slow learner sad to say, and it's been very difficult to find a way of learning JT's style. It's been hard for me to find a learning experience that meets me at my level, but still gives me a window onto my end goal. I think this is a common problem for learners everywhere.

So just imagine what it feels like for me to come across video guitar lessons led by the master himself, right there at jamestaylor.com, available for free! There he is, the one and only James Taylor, in a friendly, high fidelity experience, playing the exact licks I want to know. It's actually better than having James Taylor come to teach me in person!

I've often had dreams that James Taylor comes to my house for a visit. Maybe three times a year since I was a teenager. They're like flying dreams for me, they make me feel good for a week after I have one! They're always the same...James comes by for a chat, I tell him what a big fan of his work I am, and then we sit down to play guitar together. He teaches me some of his best licks and we part as friends. In my dreams, I learn easily. He plays the lick through a couple times, and then I play it for him. He makes a couple of corrections and then I've got it.

But if James Taylor really came to my house it would be much different from my dreams. He'd be gracious I'm sure, but still it would have to be kind of awkward. Fair to say that under the best of circumstances he'd be intolerably bored and I would be nervous beyond the point of ineptitude. He would play a lick and I would have no idea how to follow it.

And I'm pretty sure that -- even as affable as JT is -- the 100th time I asked him to replay a single measure of the intro to "Country Road", he would be packing up his guitar and remembering an urgent appointment with his endodontist.

In almost every dimension, James' video lessons are not only a good substitute for personal instruction by JT himself, they are a much more effective (and also possible and practical) way for me to learn. In short, they exceed my dreams.

With his videos, I can see him play the lick from every angle. I can focus on any part, playing along slow or fast, repeating any measure, as many times as I need to. I don't need to be nervous. I don't have to worry about disappointing my hero. He's as encouraging the thousandth time I try the lesson as he was the first time.

And it's finally helped me learn how to play a lot more like him than I did before. Or so it feels to me. And I'm betting it feels that same way to tens of thousands of other people. And if James Taylor keeps producing these lessons, and keeps them posted, he will end up teaching millions of guitarists to play his music in his style, far into the future.

This is the power of the RockStarTeacher. When a hero takes time to teach, using appropriate technology and media, using high fidelity production, assisted by the talented people who are drawn to the hero's vision -- something very powerful can happen.

And it is starting to happen. Some RockStarTeachers are starting to have the same scale of influence as the Beatles and the RollingStones, touching not tens or hundreds of students at a time, but hundreds of thousands or even millions. Its happening when James Taylor teaches thousands to play his music. It happens when Sal Khan teaches millions of students a month through his Academy. It happens when Norvig and Thrune teach AI to 150,000 students at a crack.

If I were still leading grad students, I know that I'd set some of them the challenge of making a feedback system for James. Allow students to upload their best recording of "Little Wheel" and compare it to a database of a couple hundred exemplars that James Taylor himself rated and gave feedback on. Use the same matching algorithms as things like Shazaam so that when you submit your recording, you get an evaluation back with James Taylor's advice on how you might improve ... Anyone got one of these laying around?

I have to get busy with Fire and Rain!

 

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rock the ThirdWay!

ThirdWay@ASU won Pearson Product of the Year at this year's National Sales Meeting in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. It was the first year in the history of Pearson that something other than a textbook has ever received that honor. The prize is shared by a lot of people who have worked together for more than a year and a half to make this new experiment in Public/Private educational partnership successful, on both the ASU and Pearson teams.

The ASU team is led by Dr. Phil Regier, former Executive Dean of the WP Carey School of Business, now VP and Dean of ASU Online. His first officer is Assistant Vice President Kari Barlow, whose previous assignment at ASU was leading the Strategic Technology Alliance program for ASU's Technology Office. Under Phil's leadership, ASU Online has completely reinvented itself to become an emerging leader in online education. For example, in this year's US News and World Report ranking of online bachelor's degrees, ASU Online was rated #1, FIRST, THE BEST in Student Services and Technology out of nearly 1000 responding institutions. As a direct result of the ThirdWay partnership, ASUOnline is now growing faster, serving more students, and delivering online education at an extremely high level of quality.

On the Pearson side, Matt Leavy, Melanie Biel, Marijean Hamilton, Allison King and Kevin Molloy were backed up by a cast of hundreds of Pearson employees and partners who helped ASU completely reinvent their online offering. Working side by side with their ASU Online colleagues, the Pearson team has helped ASU in every aspect of the marketing, recruiting, advising, design and delivery of its online education.
To ensure the quality, reputation and integrity of the ASU Online brand, ASU faculty design and teach every online course, and are also responsible for establishing and enforcing all instructional and academic policies. But the Pearson team provides technology, content, expertise and support services for every aspect of the student lifecycle including:

  • Pearson LearningStudio as the online learning platform for all courses; 
  • Academic Enterprise Reporting to monitor and analyze trends in student performance; 
  • Learning Outcome Manager for tracking the achievement of learning objectives and goals; 
  • Enrollment services including engagement, retention and student support; 
  • Prospect and lead generation services 
  • Admissions support services to better connect with and keep students engaged during every stage of the enrollment process. 
The match between the Pearson ThirdWay offering and tthe ASU Technology Strategy is uncanny. In 2009, ASU was actively seeking a new model for accelerating its online offering. In the midst of a 10 year plan to expand the size and scope of the University while simultaneously raising its academic quality, ASU had already become the nation's largest residential university.
But President Michael Crow's vision for a New American University did not stop with residential education. Since 2005, he had pushed his institution to develop an online school of similar size and quality -- setting a goal of 100,000 distance learners inside of a decade. But after two failed bootstrapping attempts, President Crow knew that he would have to find expertise and investment from the private sector in order to compete online with giant for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix. Determined to maintain online the same educational standard of excellence found on ground at ASU, he nevertheless needed a new kind of partner if the New American University was to be a significant player in online education.
Since 2005 ASU has followed a technology strategy known as Strategic Technology Alliance. Quoting from the UTO's 2006 strategy document:
To meet rising student expectations and create a system of scalable academic excellence the University must turn from the direct provisioning of basic services to the aggressive application of information technologies to the core missions of learning and discovery.  
ASU will accomplish this turn through Strategic Technology Alliances – aligning the institution’s technology services strategy with the strategic technology directions of private sector partners who operate at scales 1000 times that of ASU’s. Strategic Technology Alliance will dramatically accelerate the institution’s technology platform development while simultaneously allowing the university to focus more of its talent and core resources on the application of this rapidly advancing platform to increasing student success, enhancing the learning environment and advancing ASU’s research agenda. 
In order to keep pace with accelerating technical change, and to extract as much value from the burgeoning power of all things digital, ASU sought to extract itself from the direct provisioning of technology services and instead identify private industry partners who, because of their scale and focus, were better positioned to harness accelerating capabilities at scale.
In a blog post from 2006, I outlined the strategy this way:
Vertically integrated enterprises (like Universities) can use a Core vs. Context analysis to focus resources to achieve leadership. Core activities are those which a firm must concentrate their own talent, management, and internal resources on, because they are central to the enterprise strategy. Context activities, by contrast, are those that might be reasonably provided to the firm in partnership with other firms for whom those activities are Core.... 
...if ASU can find a strategic ally who can assume responsibility for a major part of a Context service -- an ally for whom ASU's Context is Core, an ally that provides that service at a scale orders of magnitude beyond ASU's size, a partner subject to competitive pressures that force it to adapt more quickly than ASU is capable of adapting -- then I say we should seek those alliances. So I propose that, as part of its technology plan, ASU seek to establish a set of strategic alliances and work with those allies to build an integrated platform that provides those Context services going forward, a platform influenced by the technology visions of the allies as well as by ASU's goals. 
In each sector, we want to identify the broadest swath of activity that would be Core to an alliance partner, and identify a timeline for transitioning more of this activity -- over a period of months, or even years if need be -- from direct ASU management and ownership in favor of technology allies whose core business is to provide those services. I believe these alliances are the gateway to developing a technology platform that can more closely track the state of the art and allow ASU to focus its resources on the use of technology in its core businesses. 
ThirdWay is a textbook example of this Core v Context approach. Under ThirdWay, ASU focuses on the Core issues of student success, academic rigor and quality. These are clearly Core for the institution. Pearson focuses on providing the widest possible range of support services, which provide the Context for ASU's Core. These services can be Core for Pearson because we provide them to a wide variety of institutions across the country, at a scale much greater than ASU alone. 
Pearson is invested in the success of the overall venture. Unlike product models, where the institution purchases specific services and technologies and then bears responsibility for making them work in the field, ThirdWay makes Pearson a true partner. ASU and Pearson pursue ASUOnline's goals together, and Pearson only makes money if the venture meets the growth and success goals the enterprise sets for itself. 
It's a great theory -- if I do say so myself-- but it's especially gratifying to see it play out successfully for ASU and Pearson. ThirdWay promises to be an important offering for us this year, and I expect I will be writing about it some more in the weeks to come. So I wanted to say a public thank you to Matt, Melanie, Marijean, Allison, Kevin, Kari, and the extraordinary team that has proved this model out and shown us all how a new kind of Public/Private partnership can make the impossible possible... 
Rock the Third Way!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It Does My Heart Good...

to see Phil Hill at e-Literate speculate on ....


What If OpenClass Succeeds in Disrupting LMS Market? ...

According to Phil people are asking:

will Pearson’s OpenClass LMS offering and associated corporate strategy lead to more competition or less competition in the LMS space for higher ed, or how will the competitive landscape change?

At this point, a couple weeks into the OpenClass beta, I'm really excited that the question is being debated. It means the word is getting out about #OpenClass and people are interested in our new model, and the impact that it may have on the market. A good beginning.

Phil and Michael have an interesting perspective on OpenClass. First, I think they have it right when they say we intend the OC as a disruptive product. We are adamant about making a quality product, but we are also conscious of avoiding feature bloat. We think connection to third party tools and technologies will be crucial to creating the richest possible landscape. This will be an important way that OpenClass will expand its capabilities, to facilitate choice.

e-Literate is also spot on when it says that if the OC platform is successful, it will redefine the LMS category and change the game. OpenClass is intended as a platform strategy -- specifically a co-creation platform. As I understand the term, co-creation platforms allow diverse creators to share a common development and deployment infrastructure at Internet scale to deliver products to a market in an integrated way. Done well, a co-ceation platform can be a tremendous spur to innovation - think eBay, Wikipedia, Amazon.

e-Literate goes on to say that:

If OpenClass is successful ... it will move the learning platform more towards a consumer decision and less of an institutional decision.

I think this would be a good outcome, as long as we can help CIOs prevent data Balkanization. If students and faculty are choosing not just the OC platform, but individual learning technologies and new kinds of content, then OC will be a positive force in education.

I hope we are able to grow the OC into a space that provides an opportunity for innovators to reach faculty and students more quickly, more richly, and that all that activity leads to greater student success. If we can make that happen, the rest will take care of itself.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Published v. Open content: Clash of the Titans or natural coexistence?

(Deleted this post accidentally...reposting)
I think some folks think that there is a kind of educational cage match between Open and published content: Two will go in, but only One can come out. And we end up with either an exclusively open source or an exclusively published content world thereafter.

I don't see it that way. Seems to me that the world we have lived in for a while is one where open and published content co-exist quite naturally.

Pearson sells educational technology and content. To do that, our content must always add value above and beyond the value provided by OpenSource resources that are available to all of us for free. We are up to that challenge, now and into the future. Professors everywhere are combining their own content with others content, both open and published, to create learning opportunities for students. Pearson welcomes innovation from everywhere, OpenSource and published, that will contribute to student success and accelerate the improvements technology can bring to education.

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