Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Glass Classroom





The Glass Classroom
(what's in a name?)


Preamble: the Glass Classroom has nothing to do with MOOCs or online education. This is a concept to coalesce attention on the lack of technical progress in education and provide a new, innovative framework to move forward. The concept isn't focused on one aspect of the problem, but the entire ecosystem. The future classroom is a place where the instructor and student is aware of progress and outcomes in real-time. They can collaborate, adjust, explore and engage with unimaginable fidelity. Again, the Glass Classroom encompasses the entire educational ecosystem, from course ware to the application of teaching strategies.


What's the Glass Classroom?


The Glass Classroom is a initiative designed to coalesce effort and accelerate transformation of course ware and the instructional ecosystem. Recent events emphasize the need to move swiftly forward or be left behind. This initiative focuses attention on the challenges and transformative opportunities ahead. 

This concept facilitates the employment of electronic text, dynamic/adaptive course ware able to adjust to meet educational objectives, real-time student performance metrics, seamless production and integration of rich media content and a new level of mobility that extends the reach of the classroom without the loss of engagement. It leverages technology to tailor the educational experience and eliminate barriers to access.

Envision a classroom where on-ground and distance students enjoy the same level of collaborative engagement. Recent advancements in cloud, mobile and social foreshadow the possibilities of this technology in education. Not unique, but one example of this concept in operation today is Google’s Hangout. This widely used collaboration suite allows several users to see, hear and interact in real-time within the same context; edit documents, view media or share a white board. 
This (Google Hangout) is a glimpse into the classroom of the future.

A great concept is like a bright beacon that naturally attracts support, transmits vivid images of the possibilities and inspires innovation. More importantly it serves as a focal point that challenges us to accomplish more than we ordinarily could. The “Glass Classroom” is a single concept designed to inspire thematic innovation and focus institutional effort towards the goal of modernization of SMC’s instructional ecosystem.


What's In A Name?

The proposed name of this initiative, the Glass Classroom may seem somewhat offbeat at first. However, when you step back a strong parallel with the digital transformation in aviation emerges. In addition, metaphorically silicon, the component of glass, is the base substance used to create all advanced technical devices. Glass touch screens, processors, and fiber optics have a common bond, they are all just glass (and yes, a lot of plastic, but the Plastic Classroom just didn’t sound as exciting). The parallel in education relates to the promise of  technology (silicon) to transform education and the transparent nature of glass. Picture a classroom with glass walls. This represents new educational possibilities and its extension (technologically) beyond traditional boundaries.



Below is additional background on the “Glass Cockpit,” the genesis of the Glass Classroom's name.  


Before 1980 aircraft operated with crude mechanical controls and analog avionics. In the 1980s aircraft manufacturers introduced advanced liquid crystal display cockpit technology. The term “glass cockpit” was coined to describe this transformative effort. The radical departure from analog controls met strong resistance from pilots and federal agencies responsible for aircraft safety. However, by 1985 the first “glass cockpit” received an airworthiness certificate. A testament to its efficiency and safety, by 1995 all new commercial and executive jet aircraft produced had “glass cockpits.”

From the cockpit itself to fly-by-wire systems used to control the plane to new pilot requirements, the transformation to digital avionics (glass cockpit) encompassed every aspect of the aircraft and revolutionized flight.


Continue the conversation on twitter: #glassclassroom




Lee Johnston, Director SMC, lee@lee-johnston.com 


Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Instrumentation of Education



The Instrumentation of Education

(this is the third post in the Glass Classroom series)


Preamble: the Glass Classroom has nothing to do with MOOCs or online education. This is a concept to coalesce attention on the lack of technical progress in education and provide a new, innovative framework to move forward. The concept isn't focused on one aspect of the problem, but the entire ecosystem. The future classroom is a place where the instructor and student is aware of progress and outcomes in real-time. They can collaborate, adjust, explore and engage with unimaginable fidelity. Again, the Glass Classroom encompasses the entire educational ecosystem. 


We've finally turned the corner and it's time to outline a concrete solution. Everyone sees the potential of technology to transform education, but the universal conundrum is how educators will actually realize technologies true promise.

Previous posts provided a background and hinted at a solution, but in this post, we'll actually get into the nuts and bolts of a new model.

In a nutshell, the primary idea behind the Glass Classroom is a convergence of two concepts that include:
  1. The standardization collection of student behavior and performance data/metrics
  2. Powerful analytic engines convert this raw data into useful information designed to extend teacher and student situational awareness related to educational outcomes.    
Because it's such a foreign concept to education, an analogy might help illustrate this idea better. The Glass Classroom shares a lot of common ground with the model used in modern medicine. Doctors and nurses rely on patient vital signs collected by specialized instrumentation. These physiological metrics are critical to the assessment of patient condition (link this to student activities and the subsequent teacher assessment of educational outcomes).

Think of the array of sensors connected to a patient and the feedback provided to medical personnel in real-time. Each data point is recorded, analyzed and presented as information that enhances doctors or other medical professionals situational awareness of the patients' condition.

So, in a nutshell, that's the Glass Classroom. The instrumentation of the entire educational ecosystem, from curriculum to pedagogy.

The increased use of tablets and online courses offer the first real opportunity to collect systematic electronic feedback from student behavior  Consider a student working a math problem. The time, attempts and outcome, along with a array of other metrics, from each exercise is data. Once analyzed and presented efficiently (i.e., visualization), this information and increased awareness of the student's performance has the power to fundamentally change education.  

Other disciplines use data collected by instruments and then overlay powerful analytics to enhance and extend human understanding and situational awareness. Why not education?

Until recently, the primary barrier to the advancement of educational business intelligence (BI) was paper and the lack of electronics (sensors) in the feedback loop to efficiently capture these data points for analysis. To ensure success, these data connections must be systematic and standardized. Without these two concepts, any attempt to advance education in this direction will simply fail. Clearly, with the advent of online learning and the rise in popularity of Learning Management Systems (LMS) the ability now exists to instrument course ware.

Actually, others are already moving in this direction. What are others in this area are doing?
  • Here's a excerpt from Forbes (source below): Jose Ferriera, Founder Knewton, whose clients include Arizona State University and textbook giants Pearson and John Wiley & Sons, uses pioneering data-mining techniques to create highly customized lesson plans and test-prep courses for students—a simple acknowledgement that everyone learns in their own unique way. “With that kind of data you can figure out everything: I know what you know and how well you know it. Everybody gets a unique experience every single moment optimized to how you learn.” 
  • http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mgg45emfk/jose-ferriera/ 

Even McGraw Hill and Pearson have started to head in this direction as part of their proprietary Learning Management Systems (LMS). The marketing and thesis sound compelling to educators, but there's a fatal flaw.

The missing link is a common thread or standard that allows third party curriculum developers and content providers like McGraw Hill and Pearson to connect and share information about student performance outside their LMS ecosystem (API model is a good parallel). Without a common standard (RFC) the fragmentation presents a barrier to progress. Ironically  this lack of vision will actually hurt their competitive advantage over the long-run (stovepipe models run counter to future technology models).

That's it for now, but the next post is actually the most exciting to date  In that point, I'll layout a plan and milestones to build a system of standards to allow the instrumentation of course ware.



Twitter:
@leestack
#GlassClassroom



Lee Johnston


























Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Is Today's Classroom a Land Truly Lost in Time

Preamble: the Glass Classroom has nothing to do with MOOCs or online education. This is a concept to coalesce attention on the lack of technical progress in education and provide a new, innovative framework to move forward. The concept isn't focused on one aspect of the problem, but the entire ecosystem. The future classroom is a place where the instructor and student is aware of progress and outcomes in real-time. They can collaborate, adjust, explore and engage with unimaginable fidelity. Again, the Glass Classroom encompasses the entire educational ecosystem.


Is Today's Classroom a Land Truly Lost in Time?

To answer that question consider this point: when a professor meets a new class for the first time, there's one fact that hasn't changed since Harvard was founded in 1636. They have zero information about their students, except a list of names. The parallels with 1636 don't stop there, the curriculum is designed and instrumented the same way too--assignments, quizes, tests, etc.

It's remarkable, but if you want to enjoy a trip back to the 1600s, the modern classroom at your local college is a great way to get that experience on the cheap.

While other professions have harnessed the power of electronic systems and intelligence to advance their discipline, education remains a land truly lost in time.

To provide contrast, consider aviation, and the aircraft and pilot. Less than 100 years ago, at the dawn of aviation, flight was a seat of the pants experience. Over the decades, the application of technology advances and instrumentation have empowered the pilot with efficient access to the aircraft's status, navigation and helped advance all aspects of the industry (safety, performance, etc.).

Take a closer look at aviation and its transformation. What's really changed through the application of technology? The answer is, aviation understood natively that efficient flight depends on standardize information feedback loops that provide information from remote areas of the aircraft to the pilot in command. Centralized information and control management empowers the modern pilot to operate efficiently, even in one of the most complex and dynamic environments known--flight. If we draw a parallel with education today, the modern professor uses the same methods of instruction and assessment they did in 1636.

Aviation isn't the only example of technical transformation. Modern medicine, meteorology and others have adopted technology to advance and extend human capacity.

To my point, education hasn't embraced technology to advance the classroom or profession. The classroom today is no more instrumented than it was when Harvard was founded in 1636. Admittedly, this fact is stunning given the advances and modernization elsewhere.

The introduction of a computer or iPad into a classroom changes little beyond how information is accessed or viewed. In a sense, we've tossed technology into the room--and hoped it would help.

How do we fix this? Great question--take lessons learned from aviation, medicine, meteorology and others and gather the curage required to inspire innovation in the classroom. We owe this to the next generation of students and advancement of the profession of education.




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Big Data Transforms Higher Education


the Glass Classroom
(big data)


Preamble: the Glass Classroom has nothing to do with MOOCs or online education. This is a concept to coalesce attention on the lack of technical progress in education and provide a new, innovative framework to move forward. The concept isn't focused on one aspect of the problem, but the entire ecosystem. The future classroom is a place where the instructor and student are aware of progress and outcomes in real-time. They can collaborate, adjust, explore and engage with unimaginable fidelity. Again, the Glass Classroom encompasses the entire educational ecosystem.

This is one of those post that could slip by. Please take a second and stop--and truly consider this concept. If you believe technology isn't a solution but a tool, this article won't disappoint.

Why is this post different? In short, it speaks to "how" technology ultimately transforms education.

This is a new era, one that demands an educational ecosystem that leverages data and systems to provide augmentation, that extends the student and educators and enhance outcomes.

At its core, technology enables real-time feedback, adaptive course ware, media that extends engagement and relevance, but most importantly the data collected by these functions and it's systematic analysis provides a view of instructional effectiveness never before imagined.

The paragraph above encompasses the complete spectrum of technology's potential in education. In fact, the use of media to extend, flip or create classes with 10,000 or more students is already a reality. 

Then this problem is solved, and why waste any more time here? The promise of technology in education isn't the delivery of content through video lecture capture or eTextBooks. Technology's true promise is its ability to harness the infinite number of data points generated by the use of technology in the educational process to enhance (augment) student and teacher performance.

Now the light begins to glow. How many times have we sat and asked the question, I wonder if we collected data on this specific problem and studied it, only to realize that wasn't possible--a data collection mechanism simply doesn't exist for that element. However, that all changes when instruction shifts to a tablet connected to the cloud. 

Let's take a side trip for context: in the early days meteorologist faced a torrent of information, with literally trillions of measurements taken at different times and heights from all over the planet. From a human standpoint, they were incapable of processing all of this information. In the 1970s meteorologist began to leverage computers and models built specifically to ingest massive amounts of data and generate atmospheric maps to assist (augment) meteorologists in the creation of accurate long-range (7 day) forecast. In short, this formula allows one meteorologist to harness the true power of technology to produce a far more accurate forecast. Today's meteorologist can accurately predict synoptic weather patterns seven days in advance.

Why the meteorology example? It points at the core competency of technology--the collection and analysis of massive amounts of data to augment and extend human capabilities. This is the essence of the Glass Classroom. Technology extends humans, it doesn't replace the human interface, it simply there to increase, and enhance situational awareness.

The world has progressed, the era of absolutes has passed, and the new reality is a torrent of information and decisions made at the speed of light.

The Glass Classrooms premise is, the introduction of a tablet in the classroom changes little until the base course ware is instrumented to facilitate the collection of data points that are analyzed and used as a tool to augment student and professor capabilities. 

The video below is a Corning advertisement for the possibilities that glass holds. It's somewhat futuristic, and doesn't really delve into the potential educational value added by the technology itself. However, it does provide valuable insight to the instrumentation of everyday behaviors. As you watch the video, understand that every action is a data point, and these data points collectively, when processed and analyzed will produce the advances everyone expected from technology in the classroom.




What's the Glass Classroom?

The Glass Classroom is a Santa Monica College (SMC) initiative designed to coalesce effort and accelerate transformation of course ware and the instructional ecosystem. Recent events emphasize the need to move swiftly forward or be left behind. This initiative focuses attention on the challenges and transformative opportunities ahead.

This concept facilitates the employment of electronic text, dynamic/adaptive course ware able to adjust to meet educational objectives, real-time student performance metrics, seamless production and integration of rich media content and a new level of mobility that extends the reach of the classroom without the loss of engagement. It leverages technology to tailor the educational experience and eliminate barriers to access.

Envision a classroom where on-ground and distance students enjoy the same level of collaborative engagement. Recent advancements in cloud, mobile and social foreshadow the possibilities of this technology in education. Not unique, but one example of this concept in operation today is Google’s Hangout. This widely used collaboration suite allows several users to see, hear and interact in real-time within the same context; edit documents, view media or share a white board. This is a glimpse into the classroom of the future.



What's In A Name?

The proposed name of this initiative, the Glass Classroom may seem somewhat offbeat at first. However, when you step back a strong parallel with the digital transformation in aviation emerges. In addition, metaphorically silicon, the component of glass, is the base substance used to create all advanced technical devices. Glass touch screens, processors, and fiber optics have a common bond, they are all just glass (and yes, a lot of plastic, but the Plastic Classroom just didn’t sound as exciting). The parallel in education relates to the promise of  technology (silicon) to transform education and the transparent nature of glass. Picture a classroom with glass walls. This represents new educational possibilities and its extension (technologically) beyond traditional boundaries.

Below is additional background on the “Glass Cockpit.”

Before 1980 aircraft operated with crude mechanical controls and analog avionics. In the 1980s aircraft manufacturers introduced advanced liquid crystal display cockpit technology. The term “glass cockpit” was coined to describe this transformative effort. The radical departure from analog controls met strong resistance from pilots and federal agencies responsible for aircraft safety. However, by 1985 the first “glass cockpit” received an airworthiness certificate. A testament to its efficiency and safety, by 1995 all new commercial and executive jet aircraft produced had “glass cockpits.”

From the cockpit itself to fly-by-wire systems used to control the plane to new pilot requirements, the transformation to digital avionics (glass cockpit) encompassed every aspect of the aircraft and revolutionized flight.

A great concept is like a bright beacon that naturally attracts support, transmits vivid images of the possibilities and inspires innovation. More importantly it serves as a focal point that challenges us to accomplish more than we ordinarily could. The “Glass Classroom®” is a single concept designed to inspire thematic innovation and focus institutional effort towards the goal of modernization of SMC’s instructional ecosystem.

Lee Johnston, Director SMC, johnston_lee@gapps.smc.edu