As educators, we are continuously seeking to refine our teaching strategies and tools to enhance student’s engagement with the content, create meaningful learning experiences but in a sustainable manner. This has been an ongoing quest since the beginning of most educator’s teaching paths. However, it is now needed more than ever in an online environment. Here are two interesting systems that claim to be the solution: Class for Zoom and LeaP.
Class for Zoom
Class for Zoom has been created by a startup called ClassEDU. ClassEDU was founded by a well-known person in education technology; Michael Chasen, the cofounder of Blackboard (Schaffhauser, 2020). According to this introductory video, Class for Zoom has been developed to add aspects of the classroom environment to online synchronous learning via the Zoom platform. This product is currently in beta testing (Class for Zoom, 2020). According to Chasen, ClassEDU polled teachers regarding what was missing in online versus the face to face classroom. This poll indicated that 60% of “the classroom experience” is missing by using Zoom in its current form. Some of these missing experiences include taking attendance, handing out assignments, and talking one on one with students during class (Class for Zoom, 2020). Class for Zoom is advertised as a product that can apply the main aspects of the classroom to the Zoom platform.
Clark and Kozma’s opinion on Class for Zoom
Clark would likely suggest that this product is another delivery system; doing the same things online that would be done in class. Therefore, the media changing from the physical classroom to online via Zoom would not enhance learning. Most of the features advertised for Class for Zoom seem to be something done in the classroom that have been transferred to an online environment. Class for Zoom allows for more controversial (due to privacy) features such as losing focus. This feature allows teachers to know if Zoom for Class is the primary app being used on the students’ computer; assuming, not necessarily accurately, that the student is focused on something else. This is not really a new thing as teachers can recognize disengagement in the physical classroom, but this program does collect more quantifiable data. Whether that data should be collected is the subject for another blog post.
Kozma would likely state that Class for Zoom is a missed opportunity to use the specific attributes of what is capable online to enhance learning as it is his opinion that media will only enhance learning if it is designed with educational context taken into consideration (Kozma, 1994 p.20). Given that this product seems to have been developed as a response to education needs for using Zoom, it seems to be a retrofit rather than intentional design. Although the need for this product to bring aspects of the physical classroom online may be understandable due to the quick transition from physical classroom to online that has occurred. This product may be helpful to familiarize teachers that have only taught face to face with the online environment.
Brightspace LeaP is an adaptive learning tool that builds personalized paths to meet individual learning needs (Brightspace LeaP, n.d.), developed by Desire 2 Learn (D2L). This promotional video highlights how LeaP can provide the focus, support for online learners to achieve their individual learning goals and keep learners on track. Additionally, it addresses most educator’s discomfort by stating that “LeaP is not about changing the way learners learn or the way teachers teach, it is about powering content to empower learners” (D2L LeaP – Powering Content. Empowering Learners., 2014).
The idea of personalized learning experiences has been discussed and tried in the past. In 2011, Personalized Learning Environment (PLE) made an entrance into the Ed-Tech world but did not gain mainstream adoption (Weller, 2020) as the amount of preparation required was not sustainable. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Performance add-on package, D2L is advertising to deliver “powerful analytics tools to help administrators, educators, and learners save quality time and maximizing impact” (Brightspace Performance Plus for Higher Education | Learning Analytics Features | Brightspace by D2L, n.d.).
Clark and Kozma’s Thoughts on LeaP
Clark would most likely think that LeaP is simply another “mere vehicles to deliver instructions” and replaceable by another tool that can produce similar results. However, he probably would agree that LeaP draws on psychological and social-psychological research in its instructional design to enhance the learner’s experience and achievement.
Kozma would possibly agree that LeaP is an interactive learning tool as it provides the learner with the ability to “act” or “respond” to the content presented to them. Though, if he were to implement LeaP into a Learning Management System (LMS), he most likely would study it in four phases to ensure students would benefit from it: a motivational phase, an instructional design phase, an implementation phase, and a knowledge transfer phase.
It is valuable to consider the viewpoints of both Clark and Kozma in the great media debate. Class for Zoom demonstrates that just because an application is using new technology, it may only be a new delivery system and not enhancing learning. LeaP is another adaptive learning tool to engage learners that requires an excellent instructional design, investment of time and money. Will these tools be a success? We invite our readers to discuss in the comment section to share your thoughts.
Brightspace LeaP. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://documentation.brightspace.com/EN/leap/-/all/leap_about.htm
Brightspace Performance Plus for Higher Education | Learning Analytics Features | Brightspace by D2L. (n.d.). D2L. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.d2l.com/higher-education/products/performance/
Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.
Class for Zoom (2020, September 23). Introduction to class for zoom. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved September 25, 2020 from https://youtu.be/3_2MVEOlzRs
D2L LeaP – Powering Content. Empowering Learners. (2014, July 31). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYeCjbMCALI
Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.
Schaffhauser, D. (2020, September 23). Class for Zoom Adds Education Interface to Popular Meeting Platform. The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. Retrieved September 25, 2020 from https://thejournal.com/articles/2020/09/23/class-for-zoom-adds-education-interface-to-popular-meeting-platform.aspx
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01