Edcor: Hands-On Labs Upgrade Online Learning

Hands-On Labs Chemistry LabPaq

Since 2006, Ocean County College has been designing lab-based biology, chemistry, and physics distance learning courses to include the full complement of offerings in its college catalog, thus making it possible to earn an associate in science degree entirely online.

“Aside from a pedagogically rigorous course construction, the key to the success of our distance learning science courses is the use of Hands-On Learning’s Cloud (Denver Colorado) a virtual platform that serves as a valuable resource for the labs that HOL produces,” said Marc J. LaBella, Associate Professor of Biology, e-Learning. According to LaBella, the Cloud removes the limitation on what learners can access in terms of support materials and is fully integrated into Ocean County College’s existing learning management system, Canvas.

Read the full story on Edcor’s website.

Dr. Jim Brown using Skype to communicate with student miles away. Photo Credit: William M. Bown photography

Ten Tips for Teaching Science Fully Online

Ten Tips for Teaching Science Fully Online

by Dr. Jim Brown

From “Lessons Learned from the Sloan C/OLC Online Science Mastery Series” presented at the 21st Online Learning Consortium International Conference in Orlando Florida on October 15, 2015

Dr. Jim Brown using Skype to communicate with student miles away. Photo Credit: William M. Bown photography Dr. Jim Brown using Skype to communicate with student miles away. Photo Credit: William M. Bown photography

1. Create a Community Within Your Course

One of the most important things you can do is build a strong online community within your course. My first assignment is to start out with a simple icebreaker, sharing something personal about my own life. Students are then asked to share something about themselves and provide a photo, if possible, illustrating their family, pets, vacations or just fun stuff they’re involved in. Students may hail from all across the United States and even from other parts of the world, and establishing collegiality and creating a community from the start is critical to the success of the course. I find that weekly discussions are a key ingredient in fostering communication and promote the learning process through the entire course.

2. Go after the Lurkers and Engage Them

Within 48 hours I make sure that the students have at least tried to access the course. Many times a simple technical glitch has prevented them from getting started. This can lead students to feel discouraged. I will try emailing them and even calling them up on the telephone to ask them if they need any help getting started. Likewise, if I see students not participating in the discussions right away, I will engage them and encourage them to participate. In many courses, I actually give extra credit to students who participate early in the weekly discussions.
I use SoftChalk to build in interactivity to my courses. Each page of content engages the students with lessons that included pop-up text annotations, self-assessment quizzes, and interactive learning games with fun tools such as crossword puzzles, and drag and drop. Both the faculty and students loved these features which made instruction much more interesting.

3. Share the Latest News about Your Scientific Discipline in the Discussions

Many of my assignments are tied directly to a content area in the textbook. However, I deliberately try to include the latest news items for the weekly discussions. One of the courses I teach online is microbiology. There are always newsworthy outbreaks occurring all over the world and I deliberately try to use them to pique student interest. For example, “Brazil is experiencing an outbreak of the Zika virus, which is spreading rapidly through Latin America and has been linked to birth defects. Pregnant women have been warned to avoid travel to affected areas. Should the summer Olympics in Rio be called off?”

4. Provide a Hands-on Wet Lab Experience

When I was the Dean of Science, Engineering, Health Sciences and Human Performance at Ocean County College, we were one of the first community colleges on the East Coast to offer totally online science courses with laboratories. We grew our offerings to 14 different online science courses with laboratories. Transferability was a huge issue for us because many of our students would get their associate’s degree with us and transfer to a 4-year college or university to complete their upper division courses and bachelor’s degree. The issue came up whether to offer a hands-on lab experience or a virtual lab experience. I called a total of 78 college and university deans of science that our students would typically transfer to. A total of 91% would accept “Hands on” labs in transfer, but only 21% would accept virtual labs in transfer. Only 6% said that they would not accept online labs of any kind in transfer. If any of our students had problems in transferring, I would contact the appropriate science dean and share our syllabus and lab manual with them. The kits from Hands-On Labs solved our problem with transferability.

5. Using the Ready-to-go Wet Lab Materials: The Magic Piece to the Puzzle

Student using a Hands-On Labs kit at home. Student using a Hands-On Labs’ kit at home.

I found that Hands-On Labs’ kits became a very quick and cost effective way to teach the lab component for the online science courses such as anatomy & physiology, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental science, forensic science, geology, microbiology, and physics. They can easily be shipped, even to many overseas locations. I have often had students deployed in the military who have been able to use the lab kits and microscopes on the other side of the world. I use Skype to demonstrate the use of an oil immersion lens, for example. The kits would include safety training and brief videos showing the student how to safely conduct their lab experiments including clean up and material safety data sheets. The kits are designed to use micro amounts of chemicals and safe microbes, such as baker’s yeast. Once students get the hang of it, they love it!

6. Have Student’s Take Photos while Performing the Labs

Example of a student taking a picture of his experiment at home Example of a student taking a picture of his experiment at home

I have my students supplement their lab reports by taking pictures to document their results. It is so easy to take a picture right through the microscope using a smart phone or close up shots of test tubes or bacterial plates. This helps prevent cheating and also provides a way for instructors to make suggestions to the students if they get stuck on a particular aspect of an experiment. Some students prepare short videos, which are also very helpful. I ask permission to use particularly good ones with the rest of the class.

7. Going “Above and Beyond” with the Wet Labs Directed Online: Employing the 5E Instructional Model

NASA and others use the 5E Instructional Model that includes the five stages of a sequence for teaching and learning: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate.
This model can be employed in teaching and learning in online science laboratories to foster Faculty-Student Engagement. It begins by piquing the student’s interest and getting them personally involved in the lesson. Next, in the exploration stage the students have the opportunity to become directly involved with scientific phenomena and materials. Then, learners begin to communicate and explain what they have learned followed by expanding or extending the concepts they have learned. Finally, both students and teachers evaluate and assess the learning via project and problem-based learning products, models, performance tasks, journals and/or lab reports. The new LabBridge by Hands-On Labs takes students well beyond the cook book approach and focuses on the 5Es instructional model to enhance learning using these new wet lab experiences. Students experience a high-quality wet lab experience that is fun and enjoyable.

8. Encourage Students to use a Virtual Lab Partner

I found that having students pick a lab partner within the course whom they can bounce ideas and experiences off of is a great help. Students have to work alone and submit their own data but I encourage this cooperative learning where they can help each other if they get stuck. This further builds community within the course and helps students feel that they have a friend they can call, text or email. Their partner may be 1000 miles away, but the virtual environment bridges the geographic distance.

9. Add Instructional Resources and Videos

Example of Video Finding and Using Dialysis Tubing Example of a short video to explain a portion of the experiment.

There are a host of excellent videos and instructional resources available on the Internet. In addition, I often make a series of short videos for the lab that focus on one aspect of the lab experiment, such as doing a Gram stain or streaking a culture plate in microbiology. I try to make them 30 to 60 seconds long, so they are like a commercial. I break down longer videos into bite-sized pieces. Youtube and Khan Academy are favorites of mine for great instructional resources.

10. Enriching Activities or a Capstone Experience

I like to add an enriching activity or assign students a “mini” capstone experience at the end of each course. This provides an opportunity for the student to integrate the skills, methodology, and knowledge learned, and demonstrate it in a project that final “E” or the “Evaluate” part of 5E Instructional Model. The capstone experience ties the course together for the student and provides an opportunity to apply the course-learned knowledge to the real world practice. A capstone field trip experience is another worthwhile contribution to learning and understanding. For Anatomy and Physiology students might visit a veterinarian, funeral undertaker or even witness an autopsy. For biology I encourage students to complete a field trip offered by a local park ranger to observe an area’s representative animal, plant life or microbes and relate it to the ecosystem in which it was found. The field trip exercise has received incredibly positive feedback from students. For example, students choose a capstone experience in collecting pond or marsh water. They used a pocket microscope where they observed microscopic pond life swimming about the slide. For a microbiology capstone, students may shadow a microbiologist in a hospital, public health or research laboratory to observe his or her daily routine.

Dr. Jim Brown

Dr. James Brown is a pioneer in online course development in science. He has been dubbed the “Godfather of Online Science” and recently has been designated One of the Top 40 Innovators in Education by the Center for Digital Education. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University and an additional M.S. in Health Sciences from New Jersey City University. His is a former director of microbiology for Roche and an Assistant Commissioner of Health for New Jersey overseeing the Division of Public Health and Environmental Laboratories. He is a former dean of Science, Engineering, Health Sciences and Human Performance for Ocean County College that became an East-coast powerhouse for online science course development with over 14 unique online science courses.

He is president of James W. Brown Associates LLC which develops online science courses for colleges and universities with a special focus on the pre-nursing science courses of Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and Chemistry which are all designed using Hands-On Labs LabPaqs and LabBridge as the foundation for the laboratory experience. He developed the Online Science Laboratory Series for the Sloan Consortium (now named the Online Learning Consortium) in the Spring of 2014 which helps train science faculty and instructional designers in how to develop online courses in science. Dr. Brown teaches science totally online at California State University at San Marcos, Colorado Christian University, American Public University, Unitek College, City University of New York and Gwynedd Mercy University.


Hands-On Learning Hosts Innovation in Education Forum

LYNCHBURG – On January 28th, Hands-On Learning hosted the first Innovation in Education Forum at Liberty University.

Hands-On Labs at the Innovation in Education Forum

Attendees were able to gain valuable insight into the direction in which the education market is headed. They also examined how advances in educational technologies are revolutionizing teaching approaches and the positive impact on instructors and universities.

In addition, attendees were able to get a first-hand look at how the addition of technology within their science course can advance student engagement, provide assessments for instructor evaluation, and give them vital analytics in a cloud-based platform.

Hands-on labs presents at Innovation in Education Forum
If you would like to the Innovation in Education Forum come to your campus please email us at news@holscience.com.

Hands-On Learning is the pioneer and continuing leader in technology and science laboratory kits for online,  and  on-campus college and University science courses. Hands-On Lab’s lab kits and their interactive technology have been proven effective in teaching laboratory skills; in meeting the laboratory learning objectives of related science courses; and in creating instructional satisfaction for educators and learning satisfaction for students. Learn More.

Distance Teaching & Learning Conference

HOL to Present at DTLC

Hands-On Learning will be presenting two sessions at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference, August 11-13 in Madison, WI.

The UW-Madison Distance Teaching & Learning Conference is recognized internationally for its quality, integrity, and longevity. During its 30-year history, this premier conference has gathered thousands of speakers and distance education professionals to share ideas, resources, research, and best practices.


TUESDAY SPEED SESSIONS – Session 3 – 2:00-2:15 pm
Holly Houtz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Hands-On Learning
Science in the distance classroom is often belittled, frowned upon, and outright argued against. “How could we ever create an online lab course better than the traditional classroom?!” Join this lively session to find out five ways that distance labs trump traditional labs. Leave prepared to convince your skeptical colleagues.


Holly Houtz, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Hands-On Learning
Find out how to get and use the data you NEED to improve courses and increase student retention. Discover three types of essential analytics for tracking, action, and prediction. The presenters will also discuss how to reduce course drop rates, increase student engagement, and promote student success.
Track: Analyze & Manage



SARA Tipping Point: 27 SARA States

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements
www.nc-sara.org, June 20, 2015

Boulder, Colorado – As of June 29, 2015, twenty-seven states have now joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) initiative, a key moment for SARA and higher education. In the past month, we have had the pleasure of welcoming Iowa, approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA) on June 1. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma soon followed with approval by Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) to join the Southern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (S-SARA) on June 29.

These states join 23 others (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, and West Virginia) as members of SARA. SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, $200,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and fees paid by institutions.

We celebrate this momentous tipping point of having over half the states in the United States as members and as a marker of the great success the SARA initiative has become. The benefits for students continue to expand nationally, including access to educational offerings, better resolution of complaints, reduced institutional costs, and enhanced overall quality of distance education.

“We are especially pleased to welcome Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee as the 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th SARA states. We’re pleased about all states that join SARA, of course, but reaching the point where we now have more than half of the states as members is special,” stated Marshall Hill, Director, NC-SARA. “We expect several more states to join SARA by year’s end, followed by others in 2016. Many thanks to all in the broad SARAcommunity who have worked so hard to move us so quickly forward.”

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission will serve as the state “portal” agency for SARA. Known as Iowa College Aid, it is a state agency dedicated to making the path to education and training beyond high school easier for Iowans. Iowa College Aid provides college access, financial literacy, and outreach services to Iowa’s students and families as they prepare, plan and pay for college. Iowa College Aid also administers state scholarship, grant, work study, and loan forgiveness programs totaling over $70.0 million annually, conducts research, and distributes higher education data.  Representatives anticipate being ready to start accepting SARA institutional applications by the end of 2015.

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor, Glen D. Johnson, remarked, “Providing our students with access to high-quality educational offerings has always been a top priority for Oklahoma’s system of higher education. Joining the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement will allow our colleges and universities to deliver innovative distance education opportunities to current and future students residing in SARA member states, regardless of their geographic location.”  The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education has been selected as the state “portal” agency.

In Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will be operating the institutional liaison agency of SARA. Dr. Brett Powell, Director, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, noted, “Online learning is a significant and important component of the higher education landscape. I am pleased that Arkansas will be part of this effort to coordinate the regulation of online programs for the benefit of both Arkansas institutions and Arkansas students. Our institutions will be relieved of a significant administrative burden and our students will have greater assurance of educational quality as a result of our relationship with SARA.”

“We look forward to the variety of opportunities SARA will bring to Tennessee institutions offering distance education programs and Tennessee students enrolling in such programs. By expanding the education options available to Tennesseans, the SARA partnership will play an integral role in Tennessee’s effort to meet the Drive to 55, the push for 55 percent of Tennesseans to be equipped with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025.” – Dr. Russ Deaton, Interim Executive Director, Tennessee Higher Education Commission. We are pleased to announce the Tennessee Higher Education Commission will be the local state “portal” agency for Tennessee.

The SARA agreements are overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and are being implemented by the four regional higher education interstate compacts: the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Once a state joins SARA, accredited degree-granting institutions in the state that offer distance education courses can seek approval from their state to participate in SARA. When approved, these institutions will be able to operate in other participating SARA states without seeking independent authorization from those states. Participating in SARA is entirely voluntary for institutions, as it is for states.

As of June 29, 2015, SARA-enabling legislation has passed in 31 states and several additional states have determined that no legislation is needed.



OLC Blended Learning

The Best of OLC’s Blended Learning Conference & Workshop

Denver, CO, July 7-8, 2015 – Members of the HOL team attended the Blended Learning Conference and Workshop organized by the Online Learning Consortium in Denver.

The Blended Learning Conference is a conference devoted to the purposeful, strategic, and comprehensive approach to blended teaching and learning. The conference program included a variety of featured sessions, interactive workshops, information sessions, vendor showcases, and discovery sessions organized around four conference tracks: Teaching & Learning Effectiveness; Faculty Development & Student Support; Blended Models & Design, and Institutional Leadership & Strategy.

Although we couldn’t attend every session, we gathered some great information! Here are some of our favorite takeaways:

DIY Blended Learning: A Ready-Made Faculty Development Program

Linda S. Futch (University of Central Florida, USA)
Rohan Jowallah (University of Central Florida, USA)

  • Blended learning best conceptualized as f2f-enhanced web course
  • The biggest issue online is integrity
  • Open educational resources (OER) from UCF’s Blended Learning Toolkit: http://blended.online.ucf.edu/morning-blend/

Sustainability Strategies for Blended Learning

Mary Niemiec (University of Nebraska, USA)

  • Online effort must be consistent with mission and goals

Reinventing Faculty Professional Development

David Lyons (CU Online, USA)
Crystal Gasell (CU Online, USA)

  • Focus on the end goal
  • Learn the tools
  • Communicate the content clearly: Modules
  • Add Value!

A Checklist for Online/Blended Course Design

Brooke Buerkle (Relay Graduate School of Education, USA)
Alice Waldron (Relay Graduate School of Education, USA)

  • Steps:
    • Identify widely adopted best practices
    • Create indicators for excellence related to our theory of action and best practices (E.g. The module includes opportunity for self reflection)
    • Gather feedback on indicators
    • Preliminary review of several Relay modules. Assign indicator scores.

Houston Baptist University Improves Student Achievement with the Help of Educational Technology

Vicki Alger (Houston Baptist University, USA)

  • Importance of writing to enhance critical thinking:
    • Develop written communication skills
    • Provide alternate form of evaluation
    • Encourage critical thinking skills
  • Students who averaged 70% or above on their writing assignments scored, on average, higher on their final exams compared to students who scored 69% or below in their writing assignments

Learner Engagement in Blended Learning Environments: Exploring a Conceptual Framework

Lisa R Halverson (Brigham Young University, USA)
Charles R. Graham (Brigham Young University, USA)

  • Engagement is indicated by cognitive and emotional energy towards learning

Social Media for Learning

Jane Bozarth (Author and eLearning Coordinator, North Carolina Office of State Human Resources, USA)

  • How much social media is too much? Make sure your tools support your learning objectives and beware of “toolitis.”
  • Draw something 10 times to make it your own
  • The point is to enable more learning, not generate more work
  • The bottom line of social media is to connect people
  • Social media is about how we can reach more people in a new way
  • Social Media helps create a sense of community
  • We want education participants. Not just consumers.
  • Faculty goal for using social media is for students to be engaged & not just consume content
  • Faculty who use social media are more likely to keep students engaged and active

Enacting the Digital Future of Health Science Education: Evaluating Blended Models at GWU

Paige McDonald (The George Washington University, USA)
Linda Cotton (George Washington University, USA)
Howard Straker (George Washington University, USA)

  • Technology increases level of student reflection on learning

Walk in an Instructional Designer’s Shoes: Designing Hybrid Courses

William Egan (Penn State University, USA)

  • What is Hybrid? Courses that combine Web and traditional face-to-face classroom instruction, and are organized to reduce or replace the number of required face-to face class sessions in order to improve effectiveness and flexibility. (Penn State University, 2014)
  • Four types of hybrid course development: F2f to hybrid, online to hybrid, f2f/online to hybrid and from scratch!

Conducting Research in Online and Blended Learning Environments: New Pedagogical Frontiers

Chuck Dziuban (University of Central Florida, USA)
Anthony Picciano (City University of New York, Hunter College, USA)
Charles R. Graham (Brigham Young University, USA)
Patsy Moskal (University of Central Florida, USA)

  • New pedagogies prompt us to ask new questions that require new research strategies
  • Complexity produces: uncertain mediation, ambivalence, ambiguity”
  • Get the “Conducting Research in Online and Blended Learning Environments” book here: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415742474

Educational Data Mining: Potentials for MOOCs and Blended Learning in Higher Education

Ryan Baker (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)

  • Most predictive indicators of those that will complete a MOOC aren’t what you’d think
  • What predicts completion?
    • More posts
    • Shorter posts
    • Linguistically more concrete posts
    • Linguistically more cohesive posts
    • Posting in same thread as other students who complete course

The Best of Both Worlds: Bringing Online and On-Campus Students Together with Streaming Video

Sebastien Auguste (NYU, USA)
John Vivolo (New York University, USA)

  • Live steaming video is not as difficult as it may seem
  • With live stream, students can participate in the course as it’s happening from the comfort of their homes

A Deeper Understanding of Student Engagement in Blended Learning Through Experience Sampling Methods

Kristine Manwaring (Brigham Young University, USA)
Curtis Henrie (Brigham Young University, USA)
Lisa R Halverson (Brigham Young University, USA)

  •  Relevance is the largest contributor to emotional and cognitive engagement

If Blended Learning Offers So Many Advantages, Why are So Few Institutions Adopting It?

Ron Owston (York University, Canada)

  • Advantages:
    • Student perspective
      • Allows for flexibility in students’ study, work, and life balance
      • Recent survey finds that not all students want all tech all the time
    • Faculty perspective
      • High satisfaction
      • Adds flexibility to your schedule
      • Reinvigorates teaching
  • Challenges:
    • Infrastructure
    • No clear indication that students would benefit
    • Time to design the course
    • Learn new technology
    • Technical Support
    • Not enough assistance from instructional designers


#blend15 @OLCtoday


HOL’s Marketing Team is attending Digital Summit Denver (DSD) this week at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. #DSD15

HOL Marketing Team Participates in Digital Summit Denver

Denver, CO, June 16, 2015 – HOL’s Marketing Team is attending Digital Summit Denver (DSD) this week at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Digital Summit Denver is a premier digital strategies forum transforming the future of the digital commerce ecosystem – including Marketing, UX & Design, Search, Content, Mobile, and more. DSD gives digital professionals an opportunity to learn directly from the world’s digital industry experts. This year’s event features dozens of speakers – leading digital thought leaders who will share their insight on the latest strategies, trends and best practices.

Burns Marketing sponsored, exhibited and presented at DSD, and posted some of the event insights on their blog:

Digital Summit Denver: Day One Download

3 Tips for Successful Content Marketing

Optimize Your Digital Campaigns by Integrating Customer Journey

@DigSumDenver     #DSD15

Michael King with iPullRank presented a session at @DigSumDenver entitled "Advanced Search & SEO Strategies." #DSD15

Michael King with iPullRank presented a session at @DigSumDenver entitled “Advanced Search & SEO Strategies.” #DSD15

Rob Humphrey with LinkedIn presented a session at @DigSumDenver entitled "Mastering Content Marketing with LinkedIn." #DSD15

Rob Humphrey with LinkedIn presented a session at @DigSumDenver entitled “Mastering Content Marketing with LinkedIn.” #DSD15



HOL exhibited and presented two workshops at the HAPS 29th Annual Conference in San Antonio

HAPS 2015 a Huge Success

HOL exhibited and presented two workshops at the HAPS 29th Annual Conference in San Antonio. 

Beyond the Hype: Three Types of “Must-Have” Data

New technologies are all the rage. Today’s tools claim to drive retention and student engagement. But are we getting the data we need? How can data truly ignite actions that improve educational effectiveness? This workshop will help educators work smarter, not harder by teaching them how to get the three types of data they need to track student knowledge gain, apply actionable analytics in the A&P classroom, and predict trends in a larger population of students. We’ll cover all the basics, from generating quantifiable learning objectives to analyzing student performance. Come ready to proof out your best teaching practices!

Avoiding CATastrophe: Distance Labs that Rock

Science in the distance classroom is often belittled, frowned upon, and outright argued against. “How could we ever create an online lab course better than the traditional classroom?!” Join this workshop for a lively discussion about ways that distance labs trump traditional labs. Leave prepared to convince your skeptical colleagues. The conversation will be modeled around cat dissections, and we’ll cover: (1) Learning Anytime, Anywhere, (2) The Un-Diluted Experience, (3) Lengthy Activities, (4) Having it All in One Place.

2015 Human Anatomy & Physiology Society Conference


8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int’l Symposium ‪#‎et4online @olctoday

HOL Has Major Presence at OLC-ET4

Hands-On Learning exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24 in Dallas.

The information session was titled, “The Data-Driven Classroom – This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” Below is a summary:

New technology in education is all the rage. Today’s technology tools collect quantitative information that drives innovative pedagogies and ramps student engagement and learning outcomes. Classroom data helps instructors work smarter, not harder. But which technology delivers the data you want?
Online courses lend themselves to data-driven instruction. Student knowledge gain can be continuously tracked, classroom analytics can become the root of action, and data can be mined to predict trends in the greater student population.

Tracking Student Knowledge Gain
How do you identify when learning actually occurs? The first step is to create precise learning objectives that can be measured. Learning objectives that begin with vague terms like “understand” and “learn about” are nearly impossible to track with analytics because they are subjective and are not measureable. How could we ever truly measure a student’s understanding of a subject such as photosynthesis? Generalized course-level objectives are too broad to track. So how do you create definitive learning objectives that are well-suited for data collection and point to a specific expectation that can be measured through assessment?
Assessments are the cornerstone of the data-driven classroom. They must be placed at key moments throughout the learning pathway. Where should they be placed to capture key data? What are the different types of assessments? What is the difference between formative and summative assessments? It is important that a variety of evaluations be presented as learning progresses. Student knowledge gain is tracked by identifying a single learning objective and aggregating student data from assessments, which are highly engaging and great for test skill-building. Data about student performance can be continually collected and subsequently applied in a number of ways.

Applying Actionable Analytics
The data-driven classroom is built with meaningful analytics that initiate action and have predictive value. Actions may be taken at the student-level or the classroom-level. How do you create measureable milestones? When do you implement Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT)? With actionable analytics, instructors can quickly identify a student who performs poorly on an introductory topic and provide help or an engaging resource. Learning opportunities are recognized at the moment needed, maximizing the potential for student success. How does adaptive learning contribute to this process?

Data can transform our assumptions and understanding of student knowledge. For example, recent analytics collected on a “Laboratory Techniques and Measurements” learning module indicated massive student success for performing molar calculations but very marginal success on describing the proper use of a graduated cylinder. This confounded the expectations of educators, who anticipated student performance on math-related topics to be the challenge area. Without the assessment data, the educators would have continued to build instructional resources around math. However, with the assessment data, instructors were able to focus their efforts on an important knowledge gap. Analytics allowed the instructors to work smarter, not harder and educational effectiveness was improved.

Predictive Analytics and Big Data
There are endless possibilities in the application of analytics, and the educational market is only now scratching the surface of these applications. How does your classroom fit in with university-wide data? Analytics can be used to gauge students’ own opinions of engagement and perceptions of knowledge gain, and these too can be correlated with student performance. Classroom analytics can be used to inform department-wide approaches and help institutions develop instructional best practices in topic areas. Student performance in introductory classes can be applied toward big data and utilized as predictive analytics for future student success. But most importantly, analytics provide a vehicle to move education away from hypothetical theory, towards pedagogical models that are supported by empirical evidence. Through online resources, instructors are able to generate data about teaching effectiveness and provide support for novel approaches. In many ways, student performance data is able to validate best teaching practices as it never could before. The online environment is the ideal setting for a data-driven approach, and online instructors, who admittedly are the most adventurous and innovative group of educators, are well-suited to the task of revolutionizing education.

HOL also presented a session during the Vendor Showcase entitled, “Yes, You Can Teach Science Online!” The session highlighted how Hands-On Labs has integrated technology with hands-on laboratory experiences to achieve better learning outcomes than many face-to-face classrooms.

HOL exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int'l Symposium in San Antonio. Holly Houtz presented a session entitled, "The Data-Driven Classroom - This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” ‪#‎et4online @olctoday

HOL exhibited and presented at the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies Int’l Symposium in San Antonio. Holly Houtz presented a session entitled, “The Data-Driven Classroom – This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Data.” ‪#‎et4online @olctoday

eLearning Consortium of Colorado

Peter Jeschofnig Presents at eLcc

Peter Jeschofnig, founder of Hands-On Labs, presented on the open-source movement April 15 at the 2015 eLearning Consortium of Colorado Conference at the Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge.

Peter Jeschofnig, eLCC Conference – April 15-17, 2015

Peter Jeschofnig, eLCC Conference – April 15-17, 2015

2015 eLCC Conference

2015 eLCC Conference

Peter & Linda Jeschofnig, eLCC Conference

Peter & Linda Jeschofnig, eLCC Conference