As the fourth Special Edition of eLearning Papers will be published in a few days. We invited Tapio Koskinen, the board’s Director of eLearning Papers, to tell us about this first issue of the year, and to share his ideas on Open Education.
The fourth special edition of eLearning Papers is fresh off the press. What will we be able to read in it?
This is the third time I help prepare the special edition, which involves choosing the most interesting and popular articles published during the past 12 months, and then selecting a representative set of topics.
One of our most widely read issues in 2012 focused on Cyber Security, for example. For the special edition, we picked a Finnish article on “Children’s Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse on the Internet”, a problem that is more widespread than what we, adults, might think.
We also published an issue in the context of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 from which we took a very interesting “From the field” article on mobility, international students and challenges of Lifelong Learning.
In the creative classrooms’ issue – probably this last year’s most important one – we had a wonderful article outlining the concept of creative classrooms (how they are developing and their future trends) from our frequent contributor Yves Punie and also from Panagiotis Kampylis and Stefania Bocconi.
So, would you highlight this particular article?
Indeed! It might just be the best one amongst last year’s articles. It is not only really important but also nicely linked with the European Commission’s policy priorities at the moment.
Also, from our issue on learning and work–which had many good articles–we choose a “From the field” article (although it could also be considered an in-depth article) about using serious games and apps for learning.
You mentioned the terms “From the field” and “In-depth” articles? What is the difference between the two?
It was never our intention to be strictly an academic journal. Since the very beginning we have been addressing practitioners and trying to bring them together with researchers, academia and policy makers.
We look at eLearning from a broad perspective, which is why we decided to include these two categories. With “From the field” articles people can share their experiences from projects and practical work without having to “compete” with very extensive research papers. In my opinion this model has been quite well received.
You have been director the board of the eLearning Papers for a long time, how do you see the portal’s evolution?
My predecessor and the first director of the board, Roberto Carneiro from Portugal, did a lot to get this initiative started. During my time in the position, we have managed to develop a dynamic and effective way of working remotely by using digital tools.
The portal itself also met a few changes to reflect the division between “From the field” and “In-depth” articles, and the improvements in the review and selection process, but the greatest change was definitely the publishing format. We decided a few years ago that since we are eLearning Papers, we should publish the material not just on the portal or paper-based formats but also as an online magazine. Since then, we have had three issues published as a downloadable PDFs.
Which topics will eLearning Papers address in 2013?
The first issue will address learning analytics, a very hot topic in all areas of ICT applied in education and learning. The following issues will be just as interesting, with topics ranging from learning spaces design, creative classrooms and personal learning environments, to an even hotter topic such as MOOCs, which will be the third issue. By the end of the year we will also have an issue focusing on digital literacy and e-competencies.
We keep hearing about "open education" and MOOCs lately. How do you think this will transform the educational world?
A couple of decades ago, when elearning first appeared, many people were saying that digitalisation was going to revolutionise the learning processes. In reality things have not changed that much and the same people became disappointed to see universities using the digital tools for administration rather than bringing them into the classroom and beyond.
I believe that open education as a concept, opening access to knowledge, content and learning is the main driving force of today. It’s actually the first time we see big changes coming to education and learning that are being enabled by digitalisation, for example, social and participatory media tools have made MOOCs and open learning resources possible and are opening a path to change as we speak.
Thank you for your time, Tapio.
Before we finish, I would like to emphasize the fact that we are the only journal in this field being published in Europe in 6 different languages. We are most thankful to our readers, contributors and guest editors, who inspire us and make it possible for us to keep on working and to continuously improve eLearning Papers.
This third conference on learning analytics will be designed to bring the many voices involved in leveraging the availability of data about learning with powerful computational, representational and visualization techniques into dialogue in a “middle space” under the overarching theme of “Dialectics in Learning Analytics”.
The first two conferences have established the range of issues and approaches of concern in leveraging the availability of data about learning with powerful computational, representational and visualization techniques. This third conference will be designed to consolidate the field by bringing these many voices into dialogue in a “middle space” under the overarching theme of “Dialectics in Learning Analytics,” which has these facets:
The Middle Space: The conference will explore the “middle space” within which Learning and Analytics intersect, and seeks proposals for papers and events that explicitly connect analytic tools to theoretical and practical aspects of understanding and managing learning.
Productive Multivocality: Learning analytics is multidisciplinary, drawing on theories and methods from diverse research traditions. Our community includes educators, learning scientists, computer scientists, administrators, and policy makers, among others. The middle space serves as a topical “boundary object”, enabling productive discourse between these many voices.
The Old and the New: We are facing a centuries old problem: to improve learning, but we are trying to solve it using a new set of tools, not available before. We address these problems in the city of Leuven: centuries old, lively new.
This article was originally published on the online Journal The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – EURODL, issue 1, 2012.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have been growing in popularity with educational researchers, instructors, and learners in online environments. Online discussions are as important in MOOCs as in other online courses. Online discussions that occur in MOOCs are influenced by additional factors resulting from their volatile and voluntary participation structure. This article aims to examine discussions that took place in MobiMOOC in the spring of 2011, a MOOC structured around mobile learning.
This line of inquiry focused on language from the discussions that contained emotive vocabulary in the MobiMOOC discussion forums. Emotive vocabulary is words or phrases that are implicitly emotional (happy, sad, frustrated) or relate to emotional contexts (I wasn’t able to…). This emotive vocabulary, when present, was examined to determine whether it could serve as a mechanism for predicting future and continued participation in the MOOC. In this research, narrative inquiry approach was used in order to shine a light on the possible predictive qualities of emotive text in both participants who withdrew from the course as well as moderately or moderately active participants. The results indicated that emotive vocabulary usage did not significantly predict or impact participation retention in MobiMOOC.
Learning Analytics is a rapidly growing research field and commercial , with potentially disruptive potential. While educational researchers have for many years used computational techniques toanalyse learner data, generate visualizations of learning dynamics,and build predictive models to test theories — for the first time, these techniques are becoming available to educators, learners and policy makers.
Learning analytics promise is to transform educational research into a data-driven science, and educational institutions into organisations that make evidence-based decisions. However, critical debate is needed on the limits of computational modelling, the ethics of analytics, and the educational paradigms that learning analytics promote.
The objective of ICT research under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is to improve the competitiveness of European industry – as well as to enable Europe to master and shape the future developments of these technologies so that the demands of its society and economy are met. You can find more details of the ICT Work Programme 2013.
The EU Member States have earmarked a total of € 9.1 billion for funding ICT over the duration of FP7; making it the largest research theme in the Cooperation programme, which is itself the largest specific programme of FP7 (with 64% of the total budget).
FP7 research activities will strengthen Europe’s scientific and technology base and ensure its global leadership in ICT, help drive and stimulate product, service and process innovation and creativity through ICT use and ensure that ICT progress is rapidly transformed into benefits for Europe’s citizens, businesses, industry and governments.
The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) bundles all research-related EU initiatives together under a common roof playing a crucial role in reaching the goals of growth, competitiveness and employment; along with a new Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), Education and Training programmes, and Structural and Cohesion Funds for regional convergence and competitiveness. It is also a key pillar for the European Research Area (ERA).
The LAK Dataset provides access to structured metadata from research publications in the field of learning analytics. Beyond merely publishing the data, it is actively encouraging its innovative use and exploitation as part of a public LAK Data Challenge sponsored by the European Project LinkedUp, co-located with the ACM LAK13 Conference, Leuven, Belgium (April 2013).
This data represents an unprecedented resource for related research, which will be encouraged by the LAK Data Challenge. A number of incentives and rewards (iPads amongst others) are on offer for innovative applications tackling topics such as:
- Analysis & assessment of the emerging LAK community in terms of topics, people, citations or connections with other fields
- Innovative applications to explore, navigate and visualise the dataset (and/or its correlation with other datasets)
- Usage of the dataset as part of recommender systems
For further details about incentives, submission and evaluation, please see the Website of the LAK Data Challenge.
LinkedUp aims to push forward the exploitation of the vast amounts of public, open data available on the Web, in particular by educational institutions and organizations. LinkedUp will organise the LinkedUp Challenge to realise personalised university degree-level education of global impact based on open Web data and information. Drawing on the diversity of Web information relevant to education, this aim requires overcoming substantial challenges related to Web-scale data and information management involving Big Data to offer personalised and accessible education services.
Challenge Initialisation and Development (WP1)
LinkedUp will launch an open challenge to identify and promote innovative uses of open Web data in educational contexts. WP1 is responsible for the design and timely execution of the challenge and the interaction with other LinkedUp activities (such as data curation and evaluation). To this end, WP1 will define the main challenge tracks, criteria and incentives as well as the dissemination strategy (jointly with WP4). The LinkedUp Challenge will be organised into different tracks (from an Open Data Challenge up to more specific task-oriented challenges) which will run through different stages, where access will be possible to new participants at the start of each stage.
- Web data success stories: the LinkedUp Challenge will identify and promote highly innovative applications and technologies which exploit open Web data in ways which significantly expand the current state of the art. The latter includes technical dimensions such as scalability or performance as well as non-technical aspects related to legal, privacy or usability issues.
- Open challenge framework: a reusable competition framework which will be established as periodic series of competitions (defined in terms of timelines, categories, requirements, stages, tracks and incentive structure)
- Best practices & lessons learned: throughout the project, WP1 will refine its approach and capture a set of best practices which will emerge throughout the competition
Evaluation Framework (WP2)
One of the main outcomes of the LinkedUp project will be an Evaluation Framework (EF) that can be reused and instantiated to evaluate Open Web Data applications in particular in the educational domain. WP2 will develop the EF that consists of predefined evaluation criteria, metrics, methods and benchmarks for the assessment of open data-based technologies and data itself. Evaluation dimensions include technical ones (such as performance, scalability, precision) as well as non-technical ones (qualitative criteria, legal and licensing issues, usability criteria). The EF will be developed with the help of the Group Concept Mapping (GCM) method and the support of an inter-disciplinary panel of experts. Within the GCM method, experts have to agree on a collection of specific evaluation criteria and their indicators.
- Evaluation framework (EF): a set of evaluation criteria, metrics, methods and benchmarks for the evaluation of data-driven applications and data. The EF will be public and available for any party to use and expand.
- Specific EF instantiations for the LinkedUp challenge tracks: specific subsets of the EF will be developed for the particular assessment in each track (open track vs focused task track). Hence, guidelines for qualitative assessment by experts (open track) will be provided as well as a set of automated assessment metrics and methods (focused task track).
- Evaluation results: in addition, the outcomes of LinkedUp evaluation activities will be published and made available. This will result in a set of publicly available data and technology quality assessments and resulting benchmarks.
Deployment Support: Data, Guidance, Infrastructure (WP3)
LinkedUp relies on a base infrastructure, both technical and organisational, to support the development of educational applications exploiting Web data. While a wide variety of educationally relevant data exists on the Web, most prominently,LinkedUp data curation activities will produce a data catalogue and repository which will offer access mechanisms to a wide range of datasets of relevance to educational scenarios. WP3 will also provide development support for external developers and will collaborate with them on tackling non-technological issues associated with deploying web data applications in an educational environment (for instance, legal and organisational aspects).
- LinkedUp data catalogue & registry: a public catalogue of categorised and described educationally relevant datasets
- LinkedUp data infrastructure: public access mechanisms to educationally relevant datasets (endpoints & APIs)
- LinkedUp support environment: supporting developers in exploiting educational datasets
Community building and dissemination (WP4)
LinkedUp will catalyse an active, diverse and well-connected community in the area of open linked data for education, including open Web data and resource evangelists. We will bridge the research and business communities, ensuring that innovative results and knowledge from academia are transferred to practical applications, eg. in a business context. We will enable and encourage content and data providers to contribute new material to LinkedUp through events, tools, and documentation. In order to facilitate learning about linked data for education, we will create a Handbook on Open Data in Education, a resource for educators, web data providers, and adopters.
- A network of practitioners and experts on open data in education
- Events and workshops to encourage understanding and uptake of open data in education
- Handbook on Open Data in Education: We will collaboratively develop a handbook, gathering best practices on how to use open data to meet educational needs. This will include use cases, tips and tricks for finding data and tools, and guidelines on using data and tools.
Exploitation, Exit and Sustainability (WP5)
The goal of this work package is to develop large-scale scenarios and use cases for the deployment, evaluation and exploitation of the Web data-based application. Use cases serve two main purposes: providing scenarios for the actual deployment of LinkedUp Challenge submissions and to prepare and implement an exit & sustainability strategy for the long-term exploitation of the project results. The latter in particular ensures the persistence and long-term availability of the competition and evaluation framework produced in LinkedUp.
- LinkedUp Large-scale use case scenarios: real-world scenarios for the deployment of the applications developed during the LinkedUp challenge, covering public as well as educational sector
- LinkedUp Exit and sustainability plan: to ensure the persistence and long-term availability of the competition and evaluation framework produced in LinkedUp
- LinkedUp Show cases: will show the application of LinkedUp technologies to use case scenarios, featururing a meaningful subset (software, data, etc.) of the functionality characterising the project demonstrator(s)
Significant potential exists for analytics to guide learners, educators, administrators, and funders in making learning-related decisions. Learning analytics represent the application of “big data” and analytics in education. This proposal expresses the importance of a planned and integrated approach to developing insightful and easy-to-use learning analytics tools.
The Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) is an inter-disciplinary network of leading international researchers who are exploring the role and impact of analytics on teaching, learning, training and development.