Assignment 3: Microtutoring is the Future of Education

The year is 2030. United States President Kim Kardashian has mandated students of all ages to stay at home and take online classes because classrooms have horrible lighting for taking selfies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Bieber thought her idea was hella cool and followed suit. In fact, all over the world, celebrities turned heads of state have ordered students to stay at home and learn online. Catherine, an army brat, is living in Berlin, Germany where her father is currently stationed. She is also a first-year student with the University of Victoria, with dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer. While she is a seasoned online learner, having first experienced it during the COVID-19 pandemic ten years earlier, she is struggling in her first-year calculus class. On the eve of her first exam, worth 30% of her final grade, Catherine is desperately trying to understand l’Hopital’s rule. She has ruled out sending an email to her professor – the 9-hour time difference would mean a response would arrive as she slept. Rather than worry herself, Catherine logs on to her Studypool account and searches l’Hopital’s rule. She is quickly connected with a tutor, who within 20 minutes, has explained the concept to her and answered her questions. Catherine is now able to sleep soundly and is confident she is prepared to take the test.

While some of this scenario may seem farfetched, it holds a grain of truth on what the future may bring. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed education forever when it forced over 1.2 billion children in 186 countries out of the classroom, leading to many institutions to adopt online learning (Li and Lalani, 2020). In Canada alone, 75% of post-secondary students had all their courses moved online (Infographic: Covid-19 and Canada’s Post-Secondary Students, 2020). While online learning had already been on the rise, and the online education market projected to reach $350 billion by 2025, the pandemic has caused an “unplanned and rapid move to online learning, with no training, insufficient bandwidth, and little preparation” leading to potential poor user experiences and halting the growth of online education (Li and Lalani, 2020). The next ten years will seek to improve this, and efforts will be made to “haul education into the digital twenty-first century” and  “create an opportunity for students from elementary-age to graduate school to benefit from crowdsourcing” (Ludvik, n.d.). Specifically, crowdsourced tutoring, also referred to as microtutoring, will come to prominence by 2030.

According to Crowd Sourcing Week (n.d.), crowdsourcing is “the practice of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group for a common goal – often innovation, problem solving, or efficiency”. Crowdsourcing often uses new technologies, social media, and web 2.0 to connect individuals and contribute to a project or cause (Crowd Sourcing Week, n.d.).

Crowdsourcing can be applied in multiple industries, including education. Specifically, Wengroff (2019) defines crowdsourced learning as “learning content requested, developed, and delivered by a group of individuals not normally tasked with creating learning content”. This means that crowdsourced learning content is not limited to being created by those in the education industry; rather, content can be created by those with an understanding of the subject.

In his article Why Crowdsourcing is Critical to the Future of Education, Hoen (2017) suggests that as online education becomes increasingly popular, crowdsourcing is critical to its success since it can address both the problems of delivering large scale virtual education and the challenges of receiving an online education. Hoen (2017) also contends that crowdsourcing is critical to the future of education since it can help integrate “the educational institution with the community in which it exists” as it draws “on the knowledge of [the] students, staff, and community…”.

In their article, The Future of Adaptive Learning: Does the Crowd Hold the Key? Heffernan and Ostrow and Kelly et al. (2016) suggest the promise of crowdsourcing lies specifically within adaptive education. Heffernan and Ostrow and Kelly et al. (2016) proposed there is “hope that adaptive learning technologies like intelligent tutoring systems will expand support for best practices in K-12 learning…”(p.1). The concept of tutoring is not new; as Dickson (2017) says “almost as old as the classroom itself is the practice of getting help from private tutors and classmates to fill in the gaps and complement what is taught in the class itself”. By 2030, tutoring will not go the way of the dodo, rather it will continue to be used under the umbrella of crowdsourced learning. Crowdsourced learning uses “the diversity of the Internet to help student with specific questions. Used correctly, this on-demand type of tutoring called “microtutoring” or “community-based education” could help solve problems” (Chan, 2017).

Microtutoring (or crowdsourced tutoring) consists of on-demand tutoring sessions where “students can get access to the explanations to the topics they are confused about using real-time technologies” (Patel, 2019). Ideally, students would be able to get help only when they needed it (Howes, 2020); microtutoring can connect students to tutors on their own time through popular platforms such as Studypool. Since 2014, Studypool has emerged as an online education platform with microtutoring as one its most popular services (Taylor, 2020). Studypool is cost effective to students since they can set their own price point “rather than forcing students to shell out the full fee for full hour tutoring session when they only need a concept or two explained” (Rashid, 2017).

Studypool helps make microtutoring promising to the future of educational technology. As “CEO Richard Werbe explains, …microtutoring breaks down conventional tutoring into smaller, more digestible pieces of learning. By eliminating the barrier of set-time tutoring sessions, students can master subjects more efficiently on a time interval tailored to their needs” (Martin, 2017). Furthermore, Studypool is “attempting to bridge the gap by creating equal-access opportunities across multiples developing countries [and] hiring thousands of independent contractors across the globe” (Winning 2018).

By 2030, microtutoring will become an important and necessary tool for all students, whether in the classroom or online. By using this crowdsourced approach, students will not only have their questions answered by qualified tutors, but they will also have access to multiple perspectives, leading to a richer learning experience. The future of education is promising with microtutoring – even President Kardashian would agree.

 

References

Chan, S. (2017, September 05). The new school year brings biggest trends in EdTech. Retrieved from https://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent

Dickson, B. (2017, March 14). How Artificial Intelligence enhances education. Retrieved from https://thenextweb.com/artificial-intelligence/2017/03/13/how-artificial-intelligence-enhances-education/

Heffernan, N.T., Ostrow, K.S., Kelly, K. et al. The Future of Adaptive Learning: Does the Crowd Hold the Key?. Int J Artif Intell Educ 26615–644 (2016). Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1007/s40593-016-0094-z

Hoen, R. (2016, May 16). Why Crowdsourcing is Critical to the Future of Education. Retrieved from https://innovationmanagement.se/2016/05/16/crowdsourcing-future-education/

Howes, L. (2020, June 8). Introducing: Micro-tutoring: Superprof [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.superprof.co.uk/blog/introducing-micro-tutoring/

Infographic: Covid-19 and Canada’s Post-Secondary Students [Digital image]. (2020, June 9). Retrieved from https://ceric.ca/2020/06/infographic-covid-19-and-canadas-post-secondary-students/

Li, C., & Lalani, F. (2020, April 29). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/

Ludvik, E. (n.d.). Reimagining learning. Retrieved from https://www.maize.io/en/content/crowdsourcing-education-reskilling

Martin, E. (2017, January 13). 4 Startups Revolutionizing the EdTech World. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283320

Patel, A. (2019, June 14). How Ed-Tech Will Transform The Education Industry [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.xongolab.com/blog/how-ed-tech-will-transform-the-education-industry/

Rashid, B. (2017, March 24). Studypool’s Microtutoring Is Flipping Education Upside Down: Here’s How The Young Visionaries Did It. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/03/24/studypools-microtutoring-is-flipping-education-upside-down-heres-how-the-young-visionaries-did-it/?sh=159697d223eb

Taylor, B. (2020, April 16). Microtutoring with Studypool: Earn by Sharing your Knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.homeworkingclub.com/microtutoring-studypool/

Wengroff, J. (2019, July 22). What Is Crowdsourced Learning? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://getsynapse.com/blog/what-is-crowdsourced-learning/

What is Crowdsourcing? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://crowdsourcingweek.com/what-is-crowdsourcing/

Winning, L. (2018, March 14). It’s Time To Prioritize Diversity Across Tech. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisawinning/2018/03/13/its-time-to-prioritize-diversity-across-tech/

 

Unit 3, Activity 6: Exploring Possible Futures

The articles written by Sava Saheli Singh and Tim Maughan and Neil Selwyn each offer an intriguing glimpse into the future of educational technology. Singh and Maughan (2014) describes cutting-edge technologies whose accessibility is limited due to issues of inequality. Selwyn (2020) describes technologies with creative ambitions, albeit somewhat unrealistic. Despite the prospect of education in these future worlds, both Maughan and Selwyn refer to a familiar concept: tutors.

As suggested by Dickson (2017), “almost as old as the classroom itself is the practice of getting help from private tutors and classmates to fill in the gaps and complement what is taught in the class itself”. By 2030, tutoring will not go the way of the dodo, rather it will continue to be used under the umbrella of crowdsourced learning. Crowdsourced learning uses “the diversity of the Internet to help students with specific questions. Used correctly, this on-demand type of tutoring called “microtutoring” or “community-based education” could help solve problems” (Chan, 2017).

Richard Werbe, CEO of StudyPool, a microtutoring platform, explains that “microtutoring breaks down conventional tutoring into smaller, more digestible pieces of learning. By eliminating the barrier of set-time tutoring sessions, students can master subjects more efficiently on a time interval tailored to their needs” (Martin, 2017). Furthermore, microtutoring is promising for the future of educational technology as it has the potential to “bridge the gap by creating equal-access opportunities across multiples developing countries…” (Winning 2018).

 

References

Chan, S. (2017, September 05). The new school year brings biggest trends in EdTech. Retrieved from https://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent

Dickson, B. (2017, March 14). How Artificial Intelligence enhances education. Retrieved from https://thenextweb.com/artificial-intelligence/2017/03/13/how-artificial-intelligence-enhances-education/

Martin, E. (2017, January 13). 4 Startups Revolutionizing the EdTech World. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283320

Selwyn, N., Pangrazio, L., Nemorin, S., & Perrotta, C. (2020). What might the school of 2030 be like? An exercise in social science fiction . Learning, Media and Technology45(1), 90-106.

Singh, S. S., & Maughan, T. (2014, June 22). The future of ed tech is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Retrieved from https://medium.com/futures-exchange/the-future-of-ed-tech-is-here-its-just-not-evenly-distributed-210778a423d7

Winning, L. (2018, March 14). It’s Time To Prioritize Diversity Across Tech. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisawinning/2018/03/13/its-time-to-prioritize-diversity-across-tech/

 

 

Unit 2, Activity 5: Media Debate in Current Events (John and Alison)

Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994), in their semantic war, would likely still disagree on the influence of media in learning today. Their debate is complicated because Kozma re-frames it in terms of a future where media will influence learning whereas Clark, in a sweeping statement, claims that “media will never influence learning”(Clark, 1994, p.1).

This 2017 article in The New York Times reports on the move into public education by big tech companies. These efforts are changing many aspects of K-12 education in an “experiment in education [by] influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning” (Singer, 2017). However, Singer (2017) notes that there has not been much oversight by the public, and research of benefits to students has been limited.

Kozma (1994) has the edge in his debate with Clark (1994) though as the power of artificial intelligence (AI) was not yet conceived in the early 1990’s. Clark (1994) might state that the advanced AI tools such as DreamBox mentioned in a report, analyzed by Harvard University, are individually chosen and implemented by teachers choosing a particular methodology and have no educational attributes on their own. Singer (2017) states “so far there is little proof that such technologies improve achievement”.

Kozma (1994) however, might argue that DreamBox which uses 50 000 data points per hour per student (Singer, 2017) to tailor lessons for individual students is an example of an AI product that is essentially teaching the learner on its own, an example of media influencing learning. Facebook used a similar approach in its collaboration with Summit Public Schools mentioned in the article. “Teachers use the software to track students’ work and may intervene when a child is struggling” (Singer, 2017). 

As post secondary classes are progressively moving online, this 2020 article by the Eyeopener reports on how professors at Ryerson University are adapting. While most professors are offering live and/or pre-recorded classes, some professors are choosing alternative methods, including using Zoom, Minecraft, and Miro (Rafique, 2020). 

Dr. Alexandra Bal, a professor of new media, is currently offering a first-year introductory course called “Creative Processes” over Minecraft and Discord (Rafique, 2020). In an interview posted on Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication & Design website, Dr. Bal explains that  “we decided to build a social environment in one of our students’ digital habitats. Since we can not be together physically, we need an environment that simulates a space and allows us to build and make [it] together” (Bartnicki, 2020) . 

Clark (1994) would likely argue that Minecraft serves as the vehicle that “delivers instruction but does not influence student achievement”. However, Dr. Bal suggests that “using our students’ established digital culture and modes of communication will engage them meaningfully in a virtual space and get them to show the digital facet of their identity” (Bartnicki, 2020). Furthermore, she proposes that students will learn digital communication practices they can apply to any field, as well as virtual professional practices for working remotely (Bartnicki, 2020). As such, it could be argued that these outcomes may not occur if media was not being used or the course was taught in a traditional classroom.

Kozma (1994) would likely apply his argument that Minecraft allows for “the potential for a relationship between media and learning [by considering it as] an interaction between cognitive processes and characteristics of the environment…” (Kozma, 1994, p.3). Likewise, Dr. Bal contends that “Minecraft is a sandbox and we will be able to model the experimental and explorative processes we want our students to celebrate” (Bartnicki, 2020).

In closing, Kozma (1994) stated that “if there is no relationship between media and learning it may be because we have not yet made one” (Kozma, 1994, p. 9). His contention that media is more than a “vehicle” in learning may have more weight in 2020 than it did 26 years ago.

 

References

Bartnicki, N. (2020, August 18). New Media professor enriches virtual learning experience with Minecraft. Retrieved from https://www.ryerson.ca/fcad/news/2020/08/new-media-professor-enriches-virtual-learning-experience-with-minecraft/

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Center for Education policy Research Harvard University. (2016). DreamBox learning achievement growth in the Howard County public school system and rocketship education. Retrieved from https://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/dreambox-key-findings.pdf

Facebook for education. (n.d.). Preparing for a new school year Resources to help educators go back to school, however or wherever. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/fb/education/educator-hub

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Rafique, R. (2020, September 23). Rye profs adapt to online classes through unique learning styles. Retrieved from https://theeyeopener.com/2020/09/rye-profs-adapt-to-online-classes-through-unique-learning-styles/ 

Singer, N. (2017, June 6). The silicon billionaires remaking America’s schools. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/technology/tech-billionaires-education-zuckerberg-facebook-ha

Summit (n.d.). Equipping every student to lead a fulfilled life. Retrieved from https://summitps.org/

Assignment 1: Dr. Robin Sargent

Dr. Robin Sargent describes herself as “half teacher, half artist”, with her resume calling her a learning and development consultant, she has a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Instructional Design and eLearning and work credentials including instructional designer/trainer for IBM Silverpop and director of learning and development for ACS Group (Robin N. Sargent 2017).

I became familiar with Dr. Sargent after seeing an advertisement for the Instructional Designer bootcamp offered through her academy, IDOL courses. Her name stuck, and soon after I saw several of her posts on an instructional design Facebook group I follow. After reading about her and listening to her podcast, Become an IDOL, I realized that she wasn’t just trying to promote herself as an instructional designer, but wanted to promote the field of instructional design.

Dr. Sargent took a somewhat unconventional path to instructional design. She earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Bible and Theology, and then landed a part time job as a librarian at Shorter University (Halwani, 2019). After a chance encounter with the Dean, she ended up developing the first online program for the College of Adult and Professional Programs. She embraced the technology side to education and became the resident expert on setting up the LMS and creating curriculum (Halwani, 2019). It wasn’t until later that she discovered that “instructional design is a thing” (Halwani, 2019, 00:00), after which she built her brand as an instructional designer to target corporate training (Halwani, 2019).

To learn more about Dr. Sargent’s path to instructional design, check out this interview she did with the TLDCast Podcast.

Dr. Sargent’s contribution to the field came when she founded IDOL courses, an instructional design and online learning academy. Established in 2013, and transitioning to it full-time in 2018, not only has Sargent created a company that keeps her working, she has created a community for instructional designers at all levels. She has developed unique instructional design programs that bridge theory, hands-on practice, and group coaching with the end goal of building a portfolio that will land a job (Clarkson, 2020). Upon completion of the 8-week IDOL courses Academy program, students may be considered for the IDOL Talent Pool, a network of vetted contract instructional designers, eLearning developers, and other related positions (Digital Course Product Design and Development 2020). IDOL courses also features blogs written by academy members and a podcast hosted by Dr. Sargent.

To learn more about IDOL courses, check out this interview Dr. Sargent did with the eLearning Alchemist podcast.

 

References

Clarkson, C. (Producer). (202, April 9). How to Transition to a Career in Instructional Design with ROBIN SARGENT [Audio podcast]. eLearning Alchemist. Retrieved from https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1438799169/the-elearning-alchemist/ep-32-womeninlearning-how-to-transition-to-a-career-in-instructional-design-with-robin-sargent

Digital Course Product Design and Development. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.idolcourses.com/digitalcourses

Halwani, R. (Producer). (2019, August 5). From Biblical Studies to Instructional Design: Dr. Robin Sargent [Audio podcast]. TLDCast. Retrieved from https://www.tldcast.com/episodes/287

Robin N. Sargent. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.mrsrobinsargent.com/resume

 

Unit 1, Activity 3: 25 Years of Ed Tech (Chapters 9-18)

As I continued reading Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech, I assumed the subsequent chapters covering the noughties would discuss technologies I was more familiar with – I was surprised to discover this was not the case. While I didn’t live entirely under a rock during that time, the technologies I didn’t know outnumbered those I did, and even with the ones I did know, I don’t think I’ve ever considered their use in education. Despite this, I have had experience with the learning management system.

My first experience with a learning management system was in 2015 when I worked for the municipal government in Calgary. I worked for the department that managed training and development programs related to software and technologies used by internal employees. One of my first projects was to create an online user manual for the new corporate Moodle LMS. An in-house developed course registration system had been used in previous years that allowed users to perform basic functions such as creating courses, registering for courses, and recording attendance. Much like what Weller (2020) says, “…when a new technology arrives, it tends to be used in old ways before its unique characteristics are recognized” (p. 64), the Moodle LMS was used for the same basic functions as the previous system. While many other features were available, they were not turned on – the idea was to that more features (e.g. SCORM) would be added in future deployments. While a few users inquired about other features, most users were unaware of what Moodle could really do.

Sadly, a couple of years after I left that department, I learned the Moodle LMS was no longer being used. I don’t know what it was replaced with, or the reasons for its demise, but I imagine Weller’s (2020) explanation of how “one of the issues with enterprise systems such as the LMS is that they require significant investment in terms of finance, expertise, time, and resources” (p. 65) seems to ring true.

I suppose the lesson here would be to explore why the LMS didn’t work – was the City not ready for it or was the wrong approach taken? While corporate LMSs exist, was it simply that we picked the wrong one? At any rate, I think back to all the work that put into getting it off the ground and can’t help but feel it was all in vain.

References

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.

 

 

Unit 1, Activity 2: 25 Years of Ed Tech (Chapters 1-8)

Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech provides an excellent overview of the history of educational technology, and I enjoyed the first eight chapters spanning the years 1994-2001. Even though the Wikipedia article states that “the use of media for instructional purposes is generally traced back to the first decade of the 20th century” (“Educational Technology”, 2020), I thought Weller starting with the year 1994 was a good choice, since he indicates that “in 1994…the web was just about to garner mainstream attention (p. 6). An interesting note is that the first online high school, CompuHigh, was also established in 1994 (“CompuHigh”, 2019).

While the first eight chapters covered some technologies I had never heard of (e.g. Bulletin Board Systems), I was pleased to see there were some I did know and even used (e.g. Netscape, Microsoft Encarta). Although I had been using the Internet for personal interests for a while, I would say that the first time I used it for educational purposes was when I started university in 1999 to do research for assignments. I seem to have a memory that I had a professor who opposed Internet sources at that time. I don’t think many of us adhered to her instructions, and I wonder how long it was before she got on board.

What struck me the most in these first eight chapters was that despite the stumbling blocks encountered with some of these early technologies, they weren’t abandoned. For example, I couldn’t believe when Weller indicated that “asynchronous online group became a possibility but at the same time, it was also a very frustrating experience for students. A collaborative activity that could usually be completed in an afternoon in a face-to-face setting would probably occupy students for three weeks or so when completing it online and asynchronously” (p. 22). Nowadays we live in such a fast-paced technological world, I wonder if we would be willing to continue pursuing a technology with such downfalls, as well as wonder where we would be had those early technologies been abandoned.

References

CompuHigh. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompuHigh

Educational Technology. (2020). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_technology

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.