[EAS] Enhancing Online Education
Peter J. Kindlmann
peter.kindlmann at yale.edu
Tue Feb 14 18:06:13 EST 2012
Dear Colleagues -
I'm forwarding you this (non-Valentine's Day) issue of Tomorrow's
Professor, about advances in online education.
Attention to "the end of the lecture as we know it" has steadily
increased recently, e.g.
but is by no means that new, e.g.
In those days at U.Penn., Prof. James J. O'Donnell
<http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/> (now Provost at Georgetown
Univ.) was Vice-Provost of Information Technology at U.Penn., the
first instance known to me of a Provost-level appointment (and of a
classicist at that!) to evolve educational technology. In 1994 and
'95 he gave a widely acclaimed Internet course about St. Augustine.
All the best, --PJK
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1. TP Msg. #1152 Stanford Faculty Collaborate to Improve Online
Education (Rick Reis)
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2012 17:05:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Rick Reis <reis at stanford.edu>
To: tomorrows-professor <tomorrows-professor at lists.stanford.edu>
Subject: TP Msg. #1152 Stanford Faculty Collaborate to Improve Online
<2026811735.4493803.1329181559763.JavaMail.root at zm02.stanford.edu>
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Professors are building new software to simplify lecture recording,
host course material online, spark discussion among students and
teachers and share Stanford courses. Others are testing these new
tools in the classroom.
TOMORROW'S PROFESSOR(sm) eMAIL NEWSLETTER
Archives of all past postings can be found at:
Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning http://ctl.stanford.edu
Check out the Tomorrow's Professor Blog at:
The posting below looks at some innovative experiments underway at
Stanford University to enhance online education. It is by Melissae
Fellet, a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Office and is
from the June 28, 2011 issue of the Stanford Report. See online
for appropriate links. Copyright ? Stanford University. All Rights
Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. Reprinted with permission.
reis at stanford.edu
UP NEXT: The Power of Mindful Teaching
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
Stanford Faculty Collaborate to Improve Online Education
Several Stanford faculty members are working together to improve
online education at the university by developing new software and
testing it in the classroom.
The collaboration unites three experimental online education efforts:
ClassX,[http://classx.stanford.edu/] a video processing platform that
facilitates lecture recording;
CourseWare,[https://courseware.stanford.edu/] an online course
hosting site with social networking features; and Open
a web platform designed to share Stanford lectures freely with the
"The researchers are combining the three programs into one. The
unified system should be available to the Stanford community by the
fall quarter, said computer science associate professor Andrew
Ng,[http://ai.stanford.edu/%7Eang/] creator of Open Classroom. The
software will eventually be available to other universities as well,"
"We've known for many years what we wanted to do for online
education," Ng said. "We just needed to build the software to make it
Traditionally, a professor delivers one long lecture each class
session. In large classes with hundreds of students, there?s often
little back-and-forth questioning between students and the teacher.
Online courses increase information availability for students.
Prerecorded lectures can free up class time for more interaction
between students and teachers. Students help each other in
discussions similar to a comment thread on a social networking site.
And supplemental interactive lessons can help reduce disparity among
students with different educational backgrounds.
Stanford computer science Professor Daphne Koller
[http://ai.stanford.edu/%7Ekoller/] tested CourseWare and ClassX
during a sophomore-level programming class. She posted recorded
lectures online and used class time to cover problems, host guest
lecturers from the tech industry and review material her students
Students watched each lecture in 10- to 15-minute "chunks." A
multiple-choice question followed each chunk to help reinforce the
concepts. Koller posted weekly quizzes online as well. The short
tests require students to think about the material, rather than
listening passively to a lecture. Studies have shown information
retrieval enhances learning.
Koller made attendance at scheduled class time optional, but students
came. She said the audience for these sessions was higher than
typical televised courses she?s taught, where the lecture was
presented in one 75-minute video.
After polling her students when the course was over, Koller said
about two-thirds of them told her they preferred the new format
compared to a traditional in-person lecture. Nearly all found the
video quizzes "very helpful."
Koller recorded her classes by videotaping a lecture or drawing
on-screen with an LCD tablet while she narrated an explanation.
Software developed by electrical engineering professor Bernd Girod
[http://www.stanford.edu/%7Ebgirod/] and students simplifies lecture
recording. A commercial camcorder captures the lecture. The professor
uploads the video to the ClassX server, which processes the video for
interactive streaming during playback. The viewer needs only a web
browser to zoom and pan around the room while watching the video
online. The ClassX team
released the code as open source software in April.
Ng developed the tablet-recording program. It displays a slide from a
presentation. Teachers draw on a graphics tablet, an electronic
device used by digital artists, and the drawings appear on screen
immediately as if they were writing on a chalkboard. They narrate the
lecture using the computer?s microphone. A camera looking at the
screen over the teacher?s shoulder records the video.
Ng also created some of the software for the interactive quizzes in
the recorded lectures.
Facilitating discussion online
When Koller presented her idea for a new teaching method to her
colleagues, computer science professor John Mitchell
[http://theory.stanford.edu/people/jcm/] realized he had a web
interface that could help her distribute videos to her class and
encourage student discussion.
CourseWare is a public website that houses many Stanford courses.
Professors control the visibility of any material placed on their
course pages, restricting access to Stanford students or releasing it
to the world. Many course management systems used at other
universities limit any access to registered students.
CourseWare allows faculty to upload video and handouts, create
interactive quizzes and track discussions among students and teachers.
In Koller?s class, students often helped each other when a classmate
posted a question. The instructor or a teaching assistant confirmed
or clarified the answers.
Mitchell had seen this student interaction early in the site?s
development. "This was one of the biggest indications that we were on
to something," he said.
CourseWare housed 10 courses in spring quarter, including computer
science, political science, education, biochemistry and psychology.
Mitchell plans to make the site available to other universities over
the web. He hopes faculty teaching similar courses at different
universities will use the site to collaborate and share material.
Supplements for introductory courses
Professors around the university are beginning to adopt portions of
this three-pronged technology in their classrooms, especially
instructors in large introductory science, engineering and math
Cammy Huang-DeVoss, course coordinator for the large introductory
biology courses, is using the tablet recording and interactive quiz
technology to develop lessons that enhance the lectures. Before a
lecture on DNA, for example, students will watch an online video
about the chemical bonds in DNA. It?s a way for the instructors to
cover extra material, reinforce concepts from other classes and help
unite students with different science backgrounds.
The biology teachers plan to launch their new online supplements in
the middle of the fall quarter. "We hope the use of this technology
can help close the gap between students of different backgrounds, and
perhaps reduce the dropout rate from these fields, especially for
under-represented groups," Koller said.
Advantages of online education
Online lectures have some advantages over the traditional in-person
instruction. They allow students to control the pacing of a lecture ?
they can speed it up or instantly replay the material.
A large library of online classes could allow students to personalize
their education, Koller said. Students could combine many different
lecture chunks to create courses tailored to their interests and
Analytical programs built into the course-hosting system could allow
faculty to monitor a course in real time, tracking student progress
and adjusting their teaching techniques to maximize effectiveness
throughout the quarter.
Ng has found that his colleagues are receptive to these online
teaching methods. "We try to deliver a better education. Every
professor wants to do that," he said.
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