This weekend, Mama came to visit and we set her up a blog. This is quite a step. Until this weekend, Mama’s internet usage was pretty much restricted to checking email every couple of days–the online purchase of a plane ticket required a step-by-step walkthrough over the phone (sorry, Mama.) She’s been a brave immigrant, but I wouldn’t have called her technologically adventurous…until now.
Category Archives: 692R New Media
This has really got me thinking. Take, for example the opening page of BYU’s Math 110 independent study course, entitled Special Instructions. Time-on-page for these users seemed fairly cleanly [though not evenly] split between those who simply skipped or made a quickly-abandoned attempt at scanning the page [spending 30 seconds or less] and those who put forth the rather ponderous 4 minute [an eternity online] effort to read the entire page. If 75% of our users really are “scanners” [then again, we only think we know this] then perhaps they [and, for that matter, we] would get more out of our site if we designed the content to be scanned.
I’m struggling with this one. Our web analytics class is looking at a couple months’ worth of data from BYU’s most popular independent study course, Math 110 [not sure what the definition of “popular” is in this case, by the way] and making some recommendations, both about their tracking suite and about the course itself. Clint explained, and I understand, that analytics is not meant for examining a handful of people—it’s for looking at trends, types, aggregates. But, for me, that aggregation leads to serious questions.
Just some highlights:
- Siyavula Project from the Shuttleworth Foundation: A comprehensive curriculum that meets all the requirements of the South African government developed by an online community of teachers contributing OERs to an easy-to-use opensource authoring platform.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to build a collection of content and pedagogical modules that could be filtered according to the curriculum standards and requirements of any given country in the world!? How hard would it be to get efforts like Open High School and High Tech High to contribute to the same library? How critical is that, really?
- Open Med School from the University of Michigan: Don’t freak out, it’s not actually online med school. A cross-discipline team from the IT programs and Med School at UMich has set up a unique [potentially very scalable] interface and management system for using volunteers/employees they affectionately call “dScribes” [distributed scribes] to clear content objects [from diagrams to simulations] in medical courses for publication as open educational resources.
Starts my mind going crazy with visions of creating an ‘OER marketplace’ where graphic design, film, information systems, interaction design and illustration students come together to create content objects for use in courses across disciplines, campuses, countries…my students in Paraguay making a video about composting that can be used by a professor of crop science in Nebraska, whose students then contribute comparative charts of turf grass varieties studied as part of an open courseware lecture series by students starting a sod farm in Ukraine.
- Case Studies as OERs: The ISKME team conducted thorough case studies of 6 different open education projects, tagged them, stored them on YouTube and the OER Commons, and even created a Case Study Toolkit to encourage others to incorporate this simple method of self-evaluation.
The best part of this for me was the idea that, when well-tagged and made public, the case study itself becomes an OER–something that others can learn from, use, re-use and adapt. Talk about maximizing the potential return on investment! Also underscores one of the challenges that came up over and over at the conference–how deeply Open Education efforts are currently rooted in and dependent on altruism. More on this later…
Cool stuff, eh?
As if we needed more evidence that the education field has not, shall we say, fully capitalized on the potential of web analytics to improve instructional design and learning, I offer the following observations, in no particular order, from my recent search permutations on the subject:
- #1 most common result: companies offering education and training on the subject of web analytics.
- Second; pundits, bloggers and reporters bemoaning the dearth of educated web analyzers.
- Next, a paper exploring what looks like an independently-designed user behavior tracking program for use in distance education evaluation. [If it turns out to be interesting, more later…]
- Also, a big-news announcement that the world’s largest education company has chosen Omniture to help them optimize….their international marketing efforts.
- Finally, Joseph’s post. Really insightful brainstorm on the subject and #3 in the google results for “web analytics in education”
This is not to say that there’s nothing out there…just interesting to see where the focus is right now–and just how much room there is for innovation in this area.