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Showing posts from July, 2012

What is online education? What could it be?

What does it mean to "teach" an online course?

This question might be the most serious question facing colleges and universities as they migrate more courses online. It should be of even greater concern as we move some K12 learning online.

When I teach online, I find that students have to write and interact much more than they might in a traditional "face-to-face" course. In a classroom, it is easy for the quiet student to say only a few words. Even the best teacher can call on students only so many times. I prefer groups with lots of discussion, but those can be dominated by a few students.

Online, when carefully structured and moderated, can engage more students. It is also easier to determine who is or is not comprehending some topics. At the same time, you must balance moderating against letting students feel like the online space is theirs. It is easy for a teacher to dominate a classroom, real or virtual.

Yet, if there are too many or too few students,…

The Teacher’s Pet: Computers Grade Homework

Visalia Direct: Virtual Valley
July 9, 2012 Deadline
August 2012 Issue

The Teacher’s Pet: Computers Grade Homework

While technology long ago replaced human grading of multiple-choice exams, with the familiar “machine gun” rattle of Scantron machines heard in schools around the globe, few teachers expected software to start grading student essays.

Early this year a research paper was published by Mark Shermis, dean of the University of Akron’s College of Education. Co-authored with two graduate students, the paper went unnoticed until it was reposted on in the New York Times and featured on National Public Radio this summer. This report, “Contrasting State-of-the-Art Automated Scoring of Essays,” compared nine software-based systems for grading student papers.

The researchers found, “By and large, the scoring engines did a good of replicating the mean scores for all of the data sets.”

Surprisingly, software-calculated grades matched the grades teachers would have assigned in 85 percent…