Online platforms for personalisation, analytics and immediate feedback #fliptm #TMACT

Last week I presented at the Gungahlin College Flipped TeachMeet on the topic of personalisation, feedback and analytics. The format of the TeachMeet was a bit different to the usual – presenters recorded their presentation via video and posted it online prior to the event, so the focus of the sessions was on discussion around the ideas. My video is embedded below and explains some of the tools I’m using to personalise learning, provide automated feedback to students and analyse data about student achievement to help identify where additional support is needed.

In the video I talk about a few platforms I’ve used extensively in class:

  • Grok Learning – Learn to program in Python, and get instant feedback every time you attempt a problem. For teachers, the dashboard really is an excellent tool that gives you an overview of student progress and helps you identify what topics students need extra support with.
  • Treehouse – This platform contains guided lessons and activities that help you learn a range of topics. For us our focus is on Web Design/Development, and it allows students to pick and choose individual paths to help them learn the skills and knowledge that is most suitable for where they’re at. Like Grok, feedback is given in browser so you can quickly see if you understand the material being presented.
  • Schoology – Our LMS provides us with automated quiz/test tools that give us a way of quizzing students and checking that they are grasping the material. Since students are provided with feedback on their progress, they can use this to identify their areas of strength and weakness and seek targeted assistance from teachers.
  • Oppia – A new open-source platform that allows users to create “explorations” that provide guided, personalised paths through the learning of material. Explorations can direct students to different activities depending on their answers to previous questions, which better targets the individual needs of each student.

There was a lot of enthusiasm on the night from teachers of many disciplines and school levels for Oppia in particular due to its flexibility, and I’m looking forward to working with some teachers at my school to see just how powerful it can be as a platform. I’m even thinking I’d be interested in contributing to the codebase as the group of us identify features we see as integral to it becoming a useful tool.

The K-12 Horizon Report 2013 lists learning analytics as a trend we’re likely to see having an impact in schools in the next 2-3 years, and its clear based on tools like Oppia and some of the third-party proprietary tools I’ve seen recently that data is becoming increasingly important in education circles. Being able to harness that data to better meet the needs of our students won’t put us out of a job – what it will do, though, is allow us to utilise our time better and focus on the things that are important to our students, rather than what might be important from our curriculum authorities.

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