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stolleb

BbWorld 2019 UX Lab

Posted by stolleb Jul 11, 2019

Will you attend BbWorld 2019 in Austin?Don’t forget to stop by the UX Lab to help define what’s next for Blackboard. You’ll find us in the Community LIVE area, near the Exhibit Hall.  

 

Here, you can meet the Design Team and shape the Blackboard products you use. You’ll have opportunities to explore and test designs for upcoming features, share your experiences as an education professional, and give feedback on potential future directions for Blackboard.  

 

Each day offers different research opportunities, including topics like these: 

  • Blackboard Data 
  • Feedback in Ultra (including a possible replacement for Box view!) 
  • Course curriculum structure 
  • Learn integrations 
  • Blackboard Help content 
  • Future Blackboard products and services 

 

We can’t wait to see you! 

 

Not attending BbWorld but still want to explore, test, and provide feedback on Blackboard features and products remotely? Sign up for the Design Research Participant Panel.

et0069225

Job Opportunity

Posted by et0069225 Jun 28, 2019

Crisis Guardian has a deep specialism in Emergency Preparedness and Resilience awareness and education. Based in the East Midlands of England near Stamford we are looking to recruit a moodle administrator.

We are looking for someone who is already living in the East Midlands and who is organised with a good work ethic and eye for detail. More importantly, you need to be enthusiastic, open minded and happy to learn on-the-go. You’ll be working alongside people who are passionate and extremely knowledgeable about what they do, so you’ll have plenty of support as you settle in.

 

The following are some of the skills we are looking for:

 


2 years experience in assisting educational and corporate organisations use e-learning /Moodle/Moodlerooms successfully!

 

Skills: 

Highly organised, a ‘starter finisher’

E-Learning development and programming

Moodle development, Moodlerooms (Blackboard) development

PHP

CSS

HTML5

Instructional Design

Blended learning

Learning Management

Educational Technology

 

Adobe

Content Creation

 

 

So, if you are interested in joining a micro company on the up. Please contact us and send your CV to support@crisisguardian.com

What is the largest course you have seen on your system? - please let us now in the comments!

 

weight lossStorage always grows, but here are just a few reasons for instructors and administrators to manage it:

  1. Smaller course copies, exports/imports, backup recoveries are quicker and more reliable
  2. Video delivered through media servers takes less bandwidth and has more features such as captioning, streaming, viewer collaboration.  Students typically use less cellular data when streaming
  3. Old files with inaccurate information do not surface in newer versions of courses through unintended consequences
  4. Performance of Blackboard web servers is improved

 

Much has already been communicated about storage, this is a summary of new and existing resources.

 

Instructors play an important role in keeping storage manageable in Blackboard courses.  Periodically instructors can review old or unlinked files in their own courses.  Here is how old and unused files can be removed:

 

 

Course sizes can be reduced by focus on these areas:

 

1. Video assignments:

Blackboard servers are "web servers" not "media servers" (Back to School webinar).  If possible, video content should be deployed to media servers and services such as Panopto, Kaltura, YouTube, etc.

 

Blackboard support recommendation is to deploy only small files to Blackboard courses, less than 50MB.

 

media

A common practice is to request that students submit video assignments through Blackboard in assignment attachments.  This can quickly add up.  Each student submits a 100MB mp4 video, that's 30 x 100MB, which makes about 3GB.  If more than one assignment is provided or videos are larger, the course becomes very large, very quickly.  Instead, services like Panopto allow for  an assignment link, which collects video content and gives faculty more functionality to comment on the video and process it.

 

Administrators can locate courses with large student video assignments by looking for courses with a large set of protected files. 

 

 

To find protected files navigate to the Admin Tools, go to System Reporting -> Disk Usage.

 

admin

 

Sample report, which identifies courses with large assignment submissions, most often video content.  The image below had the course name and id fields removed for privacy.

 

files

 

2. Course copy problems:

Course copies can sometimes generate nested folders or carry over files, which are no longer needed in the course.  Typically instructors are the appropriate authorities on deciding if a file can be removed from course storage.  It is possible to identify, which files are no longer linked or used in the course, but there may be exceptions why instructors keep files in the content system.

 

A related bug: #49579 (Nested Imported Content Folder Occurs when GUI copying from SIS created course into existing SIS courses) Issue Description: When performing a GUI based copy from an SIS created Course shell into an existing SIS created Course shell, a nested ImportedContent folder condition occurs.

This video can help instructors review their courses and remove files, which are no longer needed.

 

Administrators can locate courses with large set of files, that could indicate the course copy problem. 

 

search

 

A sample report identifying large courses due to files uploaded by the instructor:

files

 

To reduce the course storage size of Course Files, instructors can remove files no longer needed or move their video content to a media service.

 

3. Additional resources

Recorded Sessions of Previously Held Webinars about Storage

 

 

Blackboard blog about storage in the Learn system: https://community.blackboard.com/groups/behindmanagedhosting/blog

What’s happening?   

As changes in web technology mature and evolve we are constantly looking at ways to adopt new technologies that can improve the experience for our users.  

 

When we first released Collaborate with the Ultra experience, we adopted technologies that brought to market HD audio and video sharing for meetings and sessions directly in your web browser without plugin downloads.  All you needed to do was click the link, enter your name, and voila!  You were in a Collaborate Ultra session.  With the release of the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps we integrated Collaborate with the Ultra experience directly into the apps to allow users to join Collaborate sessions on the go, anywhere, anytime.  

 

And earlier this year we started beta testing an all new mobile experience that allowed users to join Collaborate Ultra sessions directly from their mobile device’s browsers.   This change allowed users to join sessions without needing to download a mobile app.  

 

Joining a Collaborate session on mobileMobile browser experience for Collaborate Ultra

 

We’ve received a tremendous amount of feedback about the beta that’s helped us refine the experience over the past few months and are now looking to make the web experience the default experience while joining a Collaborate Ultra session on mobile devices.  

 

What does this mean for my institution, students, and faculty? 

It means:  

  • Additional features are available to mobile users (e.g. polling and moderator capabilities)  
  • Consistent user experience for users moving between their desktop and mobile devices  
  • New features are available at the same time for desktop and mobile users  
  • The mobile apps will not be needed to join Collaborate Ultra sessions  

 

Polling using the mobile browser experienceChat using the mobile browser experience 

 


When’s this happening?
  

Today, you can continue to access Collaborate sessions from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps and try out the beta mobile browser experience by joining any session using Safari (on iOS) or Chrome (on Android) while on your mobile device.    

 

Note:  If you're not seeing the join from browser option make sure you're opening the session in a full web browser Safari (on iOS) or Chrome (on Android).  When opening a session from within another app (e.g. Slack) the join from browser option is not available.  You'll need to copy / "open with" the session in the web browser

 

In June, we’ll be making the mobile browser experience more prominent when users try to join from their mobile device.  Users joining from a link will still be able to open a session in the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps and sessions accessed from Learn will still be launched from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps. 

 

 

Updated mobile browser session joining coming in June 

 

In July, we’re targeting an update that will make the mobile browser the default experience when joining sessions on your mobile device.  The mobile apps will continue to display any existing or newly created Collaborate sessions from within courses, but when a user tries to access the session, they will be redirected to their devices mobile browser to join the session.  

 

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know! 

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Update July 18th, 2019

Hi everyone, 

 

A quick update on the upcoming Collaborate changes for mobile.  On July 22nd we're planning a set of updates to Collaborate and our mobile apps that will transition the mobile experience from the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor mobile apps to mobile browsers.

 

This video demonstrates the experience changes for users accessing a Collaborate session from within a Learn course.  

 

 

Please note: Users will need to have the latest version of the app installed on their devices to use the new experience.  Users on older versions of the mobile apps will continue to be able to access sessions from the app for some period.

 

 

 

If you have any questions let us know!

 

Thanks,

 

- Dan

lt0079872

Designers Resource Outpost

Posted by lt0079872 May 6, 2019

I would very much like to start a repository/outpost of design ideas for folks to try out/recommend/review, etc.

 

Da Button Factory: web button maker  - An incredibly simple way to make custom buttons!

 

https://www.canva.com/ - An amazing free resource, but can be affordably scaled to meet much of your design and publishing needs. A LOT of free content, images, templates, all downloadable.

 

Odincons 1.0 by Nhat Anh | Dribbble | Dribbble - This is 100% free shape icons

 

Icons - Material Design  - "Material icons are delightful, beautifully crafted symbols for common actions and items. Download on desktop to use them in your digital products for Android, iOS, and web."

 

Cheatsheet | Font Awesome - "After you're set up on the desktop or in code, quickly copy and paste the glyph, name, or unicode value of any icon."

So I just headed over to the Community area. This came after spending several minutes on the home page typing a plethora of variations into the search engine, with no results to answer my predicament.

 

I began asking my question to you, luminaries, far and wide (no, that's not a fat joke). I began pasting screenshots, workflow issues, and carefully formulating my query as to why Blackboard didn't know what I wanted it to do.

 

I am sincerely glad I went to such lengths, because as I tried to ever-so-thoroughly build my case, I solved my own problem

 

Can I get an amen??

Presentation Slides & Notes:

[BITS] Gamification and Game-Based Learning -- Presentation Slides

 

Questions from the webinar:

 

 

Question: <v John Thompson>What happens if a student ignores the course agreement?

Answer: The agreement changes the button from yellow to green. It is a Mark Review button with CSS. This means that Adaptive Release can be applied. As a result, the Pearson link and Discussion Board are hidden until the agreement is confirmed. See the gif below.

 

Untitled.gif

 

Question: <v Maureen Larsen>Where can we find more information on training about advanced adaptive release and how to use it in the way you suggest?

 

Answer: Maureen, you're right, we should have a deep dive into adaptive release at BbWorld and a good recording. For now, here are some links:

How-to Set Adaptive Release in Blackboard - YouTube

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~blackboard/help/Bb9_1/pdf/adaptive%20release.pdf

Advanced Adaptive Release in Blackboard - YouTube

 

https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Course_Content/Release_Content#two

Ultra: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Course_Content/Release_Content#ultra_release

 

Question: <v Cris Wildermuth>Many of us are dealing with low budgets. What ideas do you have for low cost or free gamification tools?

<v Cris Wildermuth>Please, please, mention the question on low cost or free tools? Budget is a huge issue for many of us.

Answer: A few of free gamification tools for classroom activities are:

1. Kahoot Quiz for Medical Science - YouTube

2. Quizlet Live Classroom and Learning Game | Quizlet

 

Question: <v Pat Rennie>I'm a beginner. What is the best place to start?

Answer: I would recommend these videos:

1. Gaming can make a better world | Jane McGonigal - YouTube

2. Karl Kaap on Lynda.com: Course 1 | Course 2

Karin Hutchinson, Teaching Complex Topics
https://www.lynda.com/course-tutorials/Gamification-Interactive-Learning/573400-2.html

 

 

Question: <v Debra Mascott>Has anyone seen eLearning Brothers (games can be created in Storyline, Captivate, Lectora).

 

00:54:18.000 --> 00:54:18.900

<v Cris Wildermuth>@Debra, eLearning Brothers is great and offers also free PowerPoint templates that can be gamified, as well as templates for other pricier tools. Camtasia is a one-time purchase and very good.

 

Answer: Free eLearning Stuff - eLearning Brothers

Also free graphics site: https://www.pexels.com/search/students/

 

Question: <v Nagaraj Neerchal>I am very happy to hear your last comment regarding balance. Games may end up focusing too much on the rules rather than learning. (student often do not submit a late HW bcz there is penalty for late submission). your comments?

 

Answer: Negraj, this is a great observation. Late assignments or 2nd try assignments encourage learning and help students to cope with failure. Often they are approved by professors based on personal opinion. Instead, in my game system students earn the permission to turn in late assignments by collecting XP and paying with them.

More about late assignments and the game system for introductory courses here: http://bit.ly/GameCaseStudy

 

Question: <v Thomas Clemons>I teach graduate students of all ages. How do they respond to this type of learning?

Answer: Some courses may need gamification. Especially courses with fewer than 10 students or advanced courses where the excitement of the topics engages everyone. It doesn't mean that gamification cannot be helpful. Gamification allows for creating new habits and encouraging behaviors. You see this in credit card reward point systems, Nike sports tracking, and other adult gamification projects. I think the biggest bang for the buck for universities is generating engagement in large enrollment introductory courses.

 

Here is a book of gamification benefits in business and other areas beyond school:

https://www.amazon.com/Game-Changer-Science-Motivation-Behaviour-ebook/dp/B00I05535E/

 

Question: <v Joanne Mathiasen>Is most of this only available in Bb Ultra?

Answer: All of the features are available in Original courses.

 

Question: <v Manuel Fernandez>Did you address another way to show progress that might not require comparisons between students?

Answer: Manuel, leaderboards should be used cautiously. Comparison between students can be damaging. I wrote up some details about it in the case study for gamification in a STEM course. I'm including a few quotes from that paper below. The bottom line, I let some students see progress of others, their avatars do not show their real name, the leaderboard is called Experience Ranking. It is not necessary to compare students to each other, however, some "player personalities" are motivated by scoring more points than others.

 

Quotes taken from the case study:

ERIC - ED574876 - Application of Gamification in a College STEM Introductory Course: A Case Study, Online Submission, 20…

 

While many studies report benefits of gamification in education and other fields (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, & Angelova, 2015), Gartner warned in 2012 that 80% of gamification projects would fail in the next two years due to poor understanding of effective design in gamification (Gartner, 2012). The successful studies in education focus on problem-solving skills, exploration, and discovery as project outcomes (Lee & Hammer, 2011;Kapp, 2012;Sitzmann, 2011). Studies that report negative impacts of gamification cite decreases in motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction due to ongoing comparisons between students in leaderboards (Hanus & Fox, 2015). Faiella and Ricciardi (2016)suggest that more work needs to be done to experimentally establish the learning benefits of gamification in education.
Leaderboards help students to make a self-assessment as to the mastery of their own ability and provide a necessary reference point (Hoorens & Van Damme, 2012). When leaderboards provide an overview of the entire class performance,they point to opportunities for upward and downward comparisons (Christy & Fox, 2014). Leaderboards, as motivational tools, may pose a risk for some students by applying too much pressure despite any positive influence of superiority for those on top of such listing (Wells & Skowronski, 2012). Frequent comparison of academic performance on gamification electronic leaderboardsled in some gamified classrooms to lower exam scores and a decrease in motivation(Hanus & Fox, 2015). Further, competition has the potential to diminish performance, cooperation, and problem solving, and to increase cheating (Orosz, Farkas & Roland-Levy, 2013).

Leaderboards may motivate in participation but may decrease intrinsic motivation toward the course objectives. Some learners may be motivated through social context of games to fulfill needs of relatedness, while others may require achievement opportunities to address needs of competence. The goal for practitioners should be to find ways to support all of the basic psychological needs of learners in order to increase motivation and yield the desired outcomes.Stott and Neustaedters (2013) performed an analysis of gamification in education and came up with four concepts that appear to make gamification projects in education more successful. These concepts areas follows:

1.Freedom to fail

2.Rapid feedback

3.Progression

4.Storytelling

Instead of calling a student grade menu “My Grades” in the Blackboard Learn LMS, it was renamed to My Progress. Instead of calling the ranking screen “Leaderboard”, it was called “Experience Ranking”. This screen in the mobile app was accessible through the “Progress” tab, which listed missions completed most recently by students and missions completed most often. This data was displayed on a moving gallery, which promoted the concept of ongoing activity. The leaderboard was further optimized to only display 10 neighboring players with an option to see the top 30 overall players. A full ranking of all players was not available.

 

Webinar recording:

Gamification and Game-Based Learning - Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series BITS - YouTube

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 1.50.08 PM.png

 

 

Links in slides:

 

Industry Facts - The Entertainment Software Association

Gaming The Classroom – The Art And Science Of GBL: Game Based Learning - e-Learning Infographics

 

What is Gamification? How Does Gamification Work? | Bunchball

 

Full game example:

Bob - Convert to Freeform

 

Other examples:

40+ Gamification Examples in E-Learning #102

http://codecombat.com/

What will you create? | Code.org

 

Time quiz game:

https://www.elucidat.com/showcase/#facial-recognition-quiz

More examples:

https://www.elucidat.com/blog/gamification-in-elearning-examples/

 

More tools:

Gamification: Course Leaderboard ver 2 | Blackboard Community

Blackboard Learn: Adaptive Release - Blackboard Help for Staff - University of Reading

 

Focus on progress:

Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve | TED Talk

 

Gamification in Introduction to Computing at Grand Valley State University

Move over, Mario - Professor invents game to engage students in learning - Grand Valley Magazine

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Szymon_Machajewski/

http://bit.ly/GameCaseStudy

ERIC - ED575007 - Gamification in Blackboard Learn, Online Submission, 2017-Jul-25

http://bit.ly/GameProjectRG

 

GradeCraft:

GradeCraft – Academic Innovation

 

Lynda.com:

 

Karl Kaap: Gamification of Learning
https://www.lynda.com/Education-Elearning-tutorials/Welcome/573400/615922-4.html


Gamification for Interactive Learning
https://www.lynda.com/Higher-Education-tutorials/Gamification/452750/496233-4.html

Karin Hutchinson, Teaching Complex Topics
https://www.lynda.com/course-tutorials/Gamification-Interactive-Learning/573400-2.html

 

Octalysis:

Hey, teach! Is the force with you? Evaluate how strong is gamification in your course.

https://yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/top-10-education-gamification-examples/#.WvHle1SpnyU

atedxgvsu.pngPlaying games is a very popular activity practiced by young and old. Gamification, as a way to introduce game elements to non-game environments, focuses on tracking activities and providing immersive feedback. Providing such feedback nurtures engagement and growth mindset. Ancient Greeks viewed failure as a life condition affecting good people despite their talents or best intentions. Later meritocracy made it clear: we are the architects of our own misery. Games help us to experience that failure is a part of learning, a precondition for success. In games we feel joy as we escape failure by learning new skills. In contrast to so many areas of life, we seek out failure in games. Games help us to improve our relationship with failure to learn more.

 

TedxGVSU: https://www.tedxgvsu.com/2019-speakers

 

Patent: Educational gamification system and gameful teaching process: https://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?Docid=1...

Getting Comfortable with Failure and Vulnerability to Facilitate Learning and Innovation in the Game of School: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cisothe...

The Short and Long Game Theory for Academic Courses: https://blog.blackboard.com/the-short...

Gamification in Blackboard Learn: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED575007

Gamification Strategies in a Hybrid Exemplary College Course: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1167287

Application of Gamification in a College STEM Introductory Course: A Case Study: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED574876 Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Report: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uplo...

 

 

 

tedxgvsu2.jpg

 

TedxGVSU: On well-played games & simulations - YouTube

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on March 13, 2018.

 

Teachers and professors are often working hard to guarantee students make the most out of their classes. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one way to maximize learning for pupils. By following UDL’s three principles – Recognition, Action & Expression and Engagement – along with a diverse set of practices, there’s a better chance at student success.

 

Have you ever watched a film with subtitles? Even if you haven’t, have you ever thought of how many people benefit from them? Closed captions help many viewers globally to easily follow a storyline and understand dialogue.  Subtitles are often used in the following scenarios: watching a film in a foreign language, for the hard of hearing, to watch a movie quietly so as not to disturb others, used in public spaces where TV is transmitted without sound, among others.

Universal Design for Learning is similar to closed captioning in that it applies the same principle:  it addresses the needs of different types of people. UDL is an approach to curriculum that minimizes barriers and maximizes learning for all students.[i]

 

According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. It also provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone, instead of a one-size-fits all solution. Rather, it is a flexible approach that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.[ii] It is also closely related to academic effectiveness as UDL empowers excellence in teaching and learning.

 

To go deeper into the meaning of UDL, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) provided a definition in 2008, which goes as follows:

 

The term Universal Design for Learning means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:

(A) Provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and

(B) Reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.[iii]

 

Why universal? It relates to classes that can be understood by everyone regardless of culture, background, strengths,

needs and interests. Most importantly, the curriculum should provide genuine learning opportunities for every student.

 

Why design? Effective design encourages student engagement and their desire to learn every day.

 

The Three Universal Design for Learning Principles

 

For UDL to work, teachers must put it into practice. That’s where the three Universal Design for Learning Principles come in.

 

1 – Representation: showing information in different ways. Teachers and professors must present content and information to students using multiple types of media, graphics and animation. Highlighting critical features and activating background knowledge is also an important recommendation.

2 – Action & Expression:  allowing students to approach learning tasks and demonstrating what they know in different ways. Teachers and professors must provide students with options to express their knowledge and provide constant feedback and support, according to proficiency level.

3 – Engagement: offering students with learning opportunities that keeps them engaged and sustains their interest long-term. What inspires one student might not inspire another. By providing them with options they can choose what best meets their interests.

 

Putting UDL Principles into Practice

 

When thinking about the different ways to present content to students, technology often plays a big role in grabbing students’ attention. This, unfortunately, involves a level of investment most schools simply cannot afford. However, for James Cressey, assistant professor of education at Framingham State University, in Framingham, United States, gadgets are not always necessary to apply UDL principles, or more specifically, the principle of Representation.

“If students are reading an article, that is great, but that could be a barrier for some of them, because of a visual impairment, or a learning disability. If we can allow an audio format, then the students can listen to that,” Cressey says. “If the technology to do so is not available, a teacher or classmate reading that article out loud to the other student works in the same way”, he adds.

 

The same is true for Engagement. According to Cressey, especially when teaching children, breaking up students into small groups in order to design a learning activity that involves sharing with the rest of the class and to keep students interested in the content, and the use of Lego building blocks or even musical instruments to present class subjects, are some examples of interactive activities that can enable engagement. “In my experience, such activities really got them much more engaged,” Cressey says. “There were some students who told me that they enjoy having a short lecture where the professors are presenting information clearly, but pairing that with something interactive and ‘hands-on,’ with movement and interpersonal skills that provided other means of engagement. But of course, there were other students who preferred the quiet reflective grading activities that they would normally do,” he adds.

In terms of the Action & Expression principle, Cressey says producing a CD, presenting content for parents and friends (and not just classmates), or even going on-air at a local radio station to talk about a subject they learned about in school, are some ideas that can be useful and produce interesting results.

 

The Main Challenge: Finding the Time to Implement New Ideas

Cressey believes that implementing a new approach like UDL on a larger scale is very challenging, especially within a public school system. “Having been a classroom teacher myself, I know that teachers often see trends that come and go because of poor implementation. If a new approach is not introduced well – often with not enough training for teachers – then it is not sustainable overtime,” believes Cressey.

Ongoing coaching and professional development, therefore, is one of the challenges of a UDL high scale implementation. Therefore, using the first year to plan and prepare the best approach is essential.

 

5 Tips When Implementing UDL

  1. Determine goals to help students know what they’re working towards and to stay on track.
  2. Offer students different ways to complete their assignments.
  3. Build flexible workspaces where students can either work individually or engage in group activities.
  4. Provide students with constant feedback on their performance. If possible, on a daily basis.
  5. Allow the use of different mediums, including print, digital and audio materials.[5]


 


[i] U. (2010, January 06). Retrieved January 17, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=bDvKnY0g6e4.

[ii] What is Universal Design for Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2018, from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl.

[iii] How Has UDL Been Defined? (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2018, from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udldefined.

[iv] Universal Design for Learning: A Concise Introduction [PDF]. (2011). ACCESS Project, Colorado State University.

[5] CAST, U. F. (n.d.). 5 Examples of Universal Design for Learning in the Classroom. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/treatments-approaches/educational-strategies/5-examples-of-universal-design-for-learning-in-the-classroom.

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on November 22, 2017.

 

More autonomous learners, capable of developing an active role in educational processes: that’s what student-centered learning is all about. However, there are educators who believe a more teacher-driven method is still the best way to go.

The student-centered learning (SCL) theory sheds a light on a different way to approach day-to-day classroom life –with the learner, not the teacher, at the center of all classes. “In a student-centered class, students don’t depend on their teacher all the time; waiting for instructions, words of approval, correction, advice, or praise,” says Leo Jones in his book The Student-Centered Classroom.[1]

 

Based on psychologist Carl Rogers’ theories such as person-centered approach, which defended that answers to patients’ questions were within the patient and not the therapist, as well as contributions by theorists like Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky and Paulo Freire, among others, student-centered learning remains a challenge for both educators and students in the search for better results in the process of absorbing knowledge.[2]

Critics of the traditional learning approach – where the teacher imparts knowledge onto the students who sit quietly and learn – say it’s an authoritarian and hierarchical method,[3]which often promotes memorization without an actual understanding of what’s being taught. When students become the center of the process, they automatically make a connection between new knowledge with what they already know, making classes and class content, much more useful and productive in their lives.

 

According to the research study Overview on Student-Centered Learning in Higher Education in Europe,[4] by the European Student’s Union, the massive student protests against the elitism of universities in 1968 and the need for them to open their doors to all parts of society, also led to the development of the student-centered learning concept. However, educators in the United States have used the terms “teacher-centered” and “student-centered” at least since the 1930s. [5]

 

Teacher vs. Student Centered Learning: What Are the Main Differences?

 

A teacher-centered classroom has many, if not all, of the following characteristics: a teacher who controls the material, the way in which students study and the pace they learn at; the teacher being the most active person in the classroom (be it by lecturing, reading aloud or other activities); students remain seated down for most of the class, taking notes or participating briefly, only when demanded by the teacher; desks are arranged in rows facing the teacher.

In contrast, a student-centered class is much different: students often have the opportunity to lead educational activities; design their projects; participate in debates; desks are arranged in a circle; many learning experiences happen outside of the classroom; travel or other kinds of explorations are arranged; the teaching and learning experience is personalized (and can still take place in a group setting).

 

SCL Around the Globe: Challenges and Results

 

Student-centered learning seems to be far from being a common practice among educators around the world, even having been studied and researched for many years. Actually, there is a considerable amount of resistance to the method, with interesting points of view about it, such as SCL leading to brain overload and preventing learning from being stored in long-term memory.

 

Educator Paul A. Kirschner emphasizes that studies in the past 50 years show how minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient, than instructional approaches that do guide students throughout the learning process.[6]However, some experiences do prove that the method can work if applied the right way.

A study published in 2014 by Stanford University, titled Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap, documented the practices and outcomes of four urban high schools in the United States that prepared their students through SCL, to be successful in college and in their professional careers.

The results were clear: The analysis showed all schools outperformed other educational institutions with similar characteristics in their areas, especially considering African American, Latino, low-income students and English language learners.

 

“The student-centered schools in this study have designed their curriculum purposefully to provide students with not only the kinds of academic skills they need to do college-level academic work, but also the fortitude to persist through challenges and to be successful in their chosen careers as well. Beyond enrolling in college, the quality of students’ high school preparation influences their persistence rate in college,” the study informs. In one of the schools, 97% of students were still enrolled in college in their 4th year, a rate that far exceeds the national average. [7]

 

In Europe, there has been a perception among students, that SCL has been put into practice in recent years. Overall, 90% of surveyed students in the Overview on Student-Centered Learning in Higher Education in Europe believe that, when it comes to the implementation of SCL in higher education institutions, there has been some progress in recent years. Half of them see this progress as slow, and the other half believes that despite action is taking place, SCL still hasn’t been presented to students in a proper way – with all of its characteristics and opportunities.

Latin America has also been dealing with the challenges of this proposed change in classroom dynamics. One of the initiatives that has been encouraged in countries such as Chile, Brazil and Costa Rica, is peer institution (PI), a student-centered learning method developed by the Eric Mazur Group at Harvard University in the ‘90s, which elevates the role of the student as a crucial participant in the educational process.

 

How does it work? Before attending each class, students have to self-study material so that when class time comes around, they can answer “warm-up questions” related to the materials reviewed, in order for the teacher to gage what they’ve learned, and where there might be some gaps about the subject at hand. Afterwards, the following learning process takes place:

 

1. The teacher provides a set of questions to the class

2. Students write down their answers

3. The teacher reviews their responses out loud

4. The teacher then encourages peer discussion on their responses

5. Students answer the same set of questions once again based on their previous group discussion

 

Classes become more interesting because student participation and interaction is demanded, putting them at the “epicenter” of the classroom.

In the article Turning Traditional Education Models Upside Down, published on ReVista – Harvard Review of Latin American in 2012, both of the professors interviewed said PI worked for them, making students more motivated than ever.[8]

 

In Asia, the SCL scenario also seems to be challenging, but with considerable opportunities for growth. In Transforming Teaching and Learning in Asia and the Pacific study, edited by UNESCO Bangkok in 2015,[9]it is suggested that many educators are moving towards a more “learner-centered” methodology: “The most commonly cited are project-based activities, problem and theme-based integrated learning, experiential learning, and activities that involve action research, debate, teamwork, group discussions and presentations.”

 

The Learner-Centered Psychological Principles

 

There are 14 principles defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) that must be considered as the basis for SCL. The focus is on psychological factors that are both related to the learner and the external environment.[10]

 

Cognitive and Metacognitive Factors

 

1 – Nature of the Learning Process

The learning of complex subject matter is most effective when it is an intentional process of constructing meaning from information and experience.

 

2 – Goals of the Learning Process

The successful learner, over time and with support and instructional guidance, can create meaningful, coherent representations of knowledge.

 

3 – Construction of Knowledge

The successful learner can link new information with existing knowledge in meaningful ways.

 

4 –Strategic Thinking

The successful learner can create and use a repertoire of thinking and reasoning strategies to achieve complex learning goals.

 

5 – Thinking About Thinking

Higher order strategies for selecting and monitoring mental operations facilitate creative and critical thinking.

 

6 – Context of Learning

Learning is influenced by environmental factors, including culture, technology, and instructional practices.

 

Motivational and Affective Factors

 

7 – Motivational and Emotional Influences on Learning

What and how much is learned is influenced by motivation. Motivation to learn, in turn, is influenced by the individual’s emotional states, beliefs, interests and goals, and habits of thinking.

 

8 – Intrinsic Motivation to Learn

The learner's creativity, higher order thinking, and natural curiosity all contribute to motivation to learn. Intrinsic motivation is stimulated by tasks of optimal novelty and difficulty, relevant to personal interests, and providing for personal choice and control.

9 – Effects of Motivation on Effort

Acquisition of complex knowledge and skills requires extended learner effort and guided practice. Without learners' motivation to learn, the willingness to exert this effort is unlikely without coercion.

 

Developmental and Social Factors

 

10 – Developmental Influences on Learning

As individuals develop, there are different opportunities and constraints for learning. Learning is most effective when differential development within and across physical, intellectual, emotional, and social domains is taken into account.

 

11 – Social Influences on Learning

Learning is influenced by social interactions, interpersonal relations, and communication with others.

 

Individual Differences Factors

 

12 – Individual Differences in Learning

Learners have different strategies, approaches, and capabilities for learning that are a function of prior experience and heredity.

 

13 – Learning and Diversity

Learning is most effective when differences in learners' linguistic, cultural, and social backgrounds are taken into account.

 

14 – Standards and Assessment

Setting appropriately high and challenging standards and assessing the learner as well as learning progress – including diagnostic, process, and outcome assessment – are integral parts of the learning process.

 


 


[1]Jones, L. (2007). The student-centered classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.

 

[2]Arnold, K. (2014). Behind the mirror: Reflective listening and its Tain in the work of Carl Rogers. The Humanistic Psychologist,42(4), 354-369. doi:10.1080/08873267.2014.913247

 

[3]Do learner-centred approaches work in every culture? (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/do-learner-centred-approaches-work-every-culture

 

[4]Todorovski, B., Nordal, E., &Isoski, T. (2015, March). Overview on Student Centred Learning in Higher Education in Europe [PDF]. Brussels: European Students' Union ESU.

 

[5]Concepts, L. (2014, May 07).Student-Centered Learning Definition. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://edglossary.org/student-centered-learning/

 

[6]Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1

 

[7]Friedlaender, D., Burns, D., Lewis-Charp, H., Cook-Harvey, C., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2014, June). Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap [PDF]. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education.

 

[8]Student-Centered University Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/student-centered-university-learning

 

[9]Hau-Fai Law, E., & Miura, U. (2015). Transforming Teaching and Learning in Asia and the Pacific [PDF]. Bangkok: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO Bangkok.

 

[10]Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for School Reform & Redesign [PDF]. (1997, November). Learner-Centered Principles Work Group for the American Psychological Association's Board of Educational Affairs (BEA).

 

[11]O Método. (2017, May 21). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://larmontessori.com/o-metodo/

 

[12]Educação, P. C. (2013, February 06). Portal Educação - Artigo. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://www.portaleducacao.com.br/conteudo/artigos/pedagogia/as-contribuicoesteoricas-de-jean-piaget/32647

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on November 11, 2016.

 

Web accessibility must ensure that individuals with any type of disability are able to perceive, navigate, interact, learn, communicate, teach, and contribute to the web.  Both the Web and any educational initiatives online should be inclusive for everyone and should promote equal opportunities to access the information and manage contents. 

 

There are many technologies that help mitigate limitations in accordance with the type of disability.

 

Disability

Assistive Technology or Support Tool 

Visual impairments

Screen readers, listening feedback tools, touch interfaces or with Braille system, screen enhancement tools.  

Hearing impairments

Technologies that incorporate visible signals in audio alerts, subtitling, closed captioning, and text-to-speech tools.

Speech impairments

Keyboards, voice synthesizers, syntax systems to form phrases, word and phrase prediction systems, etc.  

Motor impairments

Special keyboards, voice recognition software, ocular movement systems, mouthstick.

Cognitive impairments

Technologies such as alarms and task reminders

 

 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, (WCAG2.0) organized the guidelines and success criteria around four principles to ensure that the contents and platforms are accessible to any person around the world[1]:

 

  1. Perceivable: the contents and developed technology should not depend on a single form of perception, i.e. the components and contents must be shown in a way that users can understand them – this is in terms of contents.
  2. Operable: navigation and interfaces should be operable. This suggests that users should be able to handle tools and should not be tied to only one direction – all actions should be available to all users. This is in terms of tools.   

 

  1. Understandable: all users should be capable of understanding the contents and how the tools work. This refers to an intuitive and easy-to-use topic, as well as readable and predictive interface. 
  2. Robust: contents should be robust in order to be interpreted, also by assistive technologies. In addition, contents should adapt to the evolution of technologies and continue to be assistive. This refers to the compatibility that a content should have with other types of tools or technologies.  

 

Perspectives for each involved profile

 

Accessibility and the Institution:

 

In many countries, accessibility is a government policy and in many educational institutions around the world, accessibility is an internal policy. However, beyond thinking about the policy, it is necessary to think about the Right to Education. Educational institutions should: 

 

  • Transform campuses in order for them to become accessible. 
  • Evaluate how the social environments are proper spaces where everyone can work, teach, and learn. 
  • Design an action policy that responds to legal and social realities.
  • Educate and train the academic community on the importance of accessibility. This requires time, effort, and strategy.  
  • Raise awareness through general messages saying that everyone can have access to all infrastructures and contents. 
  • Develop alliances with other campuses and create a community around the adoption of accessibility strategies to share experiences and learn from the efforts of others.  
  • Be updated on the possibilities of technology and its evolution to improve processes and initiatives. 

 

 

Accessibility and the teacher: instructors and teachers should undergo training on how accessible technologies work, and how to provide assistance to students with any disability. The inclusion of accessible technologies in the classroom results beneficial to teachers for the following reasons: 

 

  • They pose new educational and teaching challenges.
  • Diversified groups of students allow teachers to improve the learning experiences of all the students in a classroom.    
  • They improve the content and structure of courses through the information obtained by the teacher by creating student profiles.
  • They increase the quality of the education.
  • They create supplementary information.
  • Updating on accessible contents can be fast and easy even throughout all the modules of a course.  

 

 

Accessibility and the student: when technologies are accessible, they become the best allies in leveling the interaction between students with any disability and those without disabilities. Some of the advantages of accessible technologies are: 

 

  • Flexibility in learning that can take place regardless of the time and place.
  • Equal participation in learning processes and pedagological experiences
  • Handling difficult material is avoided thanks to accessible devices. 
  • The possibilities for professional education and work contribution are increased. 
  • Better social practices and relationships with other students. 
  • Experiences and good teaching practices are shared with peers.
  • Promotion of inclusion in other social and educational spaces, forums, debates, seminars, etc.
  • New possibilities of communication among the entire academic community.


 


[1] W3C. Introduction to understanding WCAG 2.0. In: https://www.w3.org/TR/UNDERSTANDING-WCAG20/intro.html#introduction-fourprincs-head. Consulted on: September 8, 2016.

 

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on November 15, 2017.

 

By: Gohar Hovhannisyan - Executive Committee Member, European Students’ Union

 

Yerevan, Armenia

 

The concept of student-centered learning (SCL) goes back to 1968 when massive student protests took place against the elitism of universities demanding them to be open for all society.

Political recognition of SCL was gained in 2009 through the Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve Ministerial Communiqué, where it was stated that student-centered learning requires empowering individual learners, new approaches to teaching and learning, effective support and guidance structures, and a curriculum focused more clearly on the learner in all three cycles. Later on, the importance of SCL and learning-outcomes based learning was reiterated in the Bucharest Ministerial Communiqué in 2012 and the European Commission's Communication on Rethinking Education. In 2015, the Yerevan Ministerial Communiqué encouraged higher education institutions and staff in promoting pedagogical innovation in student-centered learning environments.

The approach of student-centered learning and teaching aims at empowering students to build their own learning experience and provide them with skills to challenge common knowledge. It is also based on the idea that students are not empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge, but they are in the driver's seat of their learning experience.

The most important feature of the SCL approach is that it is not limited to a certain methodology but rather a cultural shift of the learning experience. Student-centered learning is based on flexibility and individualization of the learning process, meaning that teaching methods should be adjusted to the individual needs of a diverse student group.

The paradigm shift from teacher-centered toward student-centered learning brings frustration to some academics who assume that the application of SCL diminishes the role of the teacher. However, focusing on empowering students through SCL does not neglect the importance of the teacher, but shows his or her role as a facilitator.

SCL brings more functions to the role of the teacher, who has to facilitate the learning based on a process of constructing knowledge and new understanding, encourage an active approach to learning by doing, and guide students to self-directed learning with students taking increasing responsibility for their learning. This is the process where the student is encouraged to take ownership for his/her own individual learning path.

In order to map out a common understanding of the SCL concept by providing a common comprehensive definition, as well as guidelines and checklists for the implementation of the concept, European Students’ Union (ESU) and Education International (EI) jointly undertook the project Time for Student-Centered Learning (T4SCL), which ran from 2009 to 2010. The project led to the definition of SCL that is now widely used by educational stakeholders and policy-makers. This definition adequately brings together a number of concepts and perceptions, as well as tried and tested methods of SCL. It serves to enhance the positive effect of a SCL approach within higher education, most importantly for individual students who are to use SCL approach best practices in their daily lives (European Students’ Union, 2015).1

At the conference launching the T4SCL project in May 2010, teachers and students examined the theory behind SCL. As a result, a list of nine general principles were outlined, as follows:

 

PRINCIPLE I: SCL Requires an Ongoing Reflexive Process

Part of the underlying philosophy of SCL is that no one context can have one SCL style that can remain applicable through time. The philosophy of SCL is that teachers, students and institutions need to reflect on their teaching, learning and infrastructural systems on an ongoing basis. This way, the student learning experience is continuously improved, and the intended learning outcomes of a given course or program component achieved in a way that stimulates learners' critical thinking and transferable skills.

PRINCIPLE II: SCL Does Not Have a “One-Size-Fits-All” Solution

A key concept underlying SCL is the realization that all higher education institutions are different, as well as all teachers and students. Therefore, SCL is a learning approach that requires learning support structures, which are appropriate to each given context, and teaching and learning styles appropriate to those undertaking them.

PRINCIPLE III: Students Have Different Learning Styles

SCL recognizes that students have different pedagogical needs. Some learn better through trial and error, others learn through practical experience and some by reading literature.

PRINCIPLE IV: Students Have Different Needs and Interests

All students have needs that extend beyond the classroom. Some are interested in cultural activities, others in sports or in representative organizations.

PRINCIPLE V: Choice Is Central to Effective Learning in SCL

Students like to learn different subjects and hence, any offer of study courses/methods within the learning path should involve a reasonable amount of choice.

PRINCIPLE VI: Students Have Different Experiences and Background Knowledge

Learning needs to be adapted to the professional and life experience of each individual. For instance, if students already have considerable experience in using information and communications technology, there is no point in trying to teach them the same thing again; if they already have considerable research skills, perhaps it would be better to help them in theory.

PRINCIPLE VII: Students Should Have Control Over Their Learning

Students should get the opportunity to be involved in the design of courses, curricula and their evaluation. The best way to ensure that learning focuses more on students is by engaging students themselves in shaping their learning.

PRINCIPLE VIII: SCL Is About Enabling Not Telling

By simply imparting (telling) facts and knowledge to students, the initiative, preparation and content comes mainly from the teacher. The SCL approach aims to give students greater responsibility by enabling them to think, process, analyze, synthesize, criticize, apply and solve problems.

PRINCIPLE IX: Learning Needs Cooperation between Students and Staff

It is important that students and staff co-operate to develop a shared understanding of both the challenges experienced in learning, as well as their own challenges as stakeholders within their given institution, jointly proposing solutions that might work for both groups. Such a partnership is central to the SCL philosophy, which sees learning as taking place in a constructive interaction between the two groups.

The need to implement the SCL approach is very much in connection with the changes our world is undergoing. The rapid developments of technologies and infrastructures transform the philosophy of education, which should not merely prepare us for our future life, but should be a meaningful driver in our present life. SCL is that very model that empowers us to shape the world starting on from one’s learning path. 


Sources

1 European Students’ Union. Overview on Student-Centred Learning in Higher Education in Europe. Mar. 2015, www.esu-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Overview-on-Student-Centred-Learning-in-Higher-Education-in-Europe.pdf.

For More Information

Time for Student-Centred Learning: http://tinyurl.com/esu-tscl

Peer Assessment of Student-Centred Learning (PASCL): http://tinyurl.com/esu-pascl

About the European Students’ Union

The European Students' Union (ESU) is the umbrella organization of 45 National Unions of Students (NUS) from 38 countries. NUSes are open to all students in their respective country regardless of political persuasion, religion, ethnic or cultural origin, sexual orientation or social standing. Our members are also student-run, autonomous, representative and operate according to democratic principles. The aim of ESU is to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at the European level towards all relevant bodies and in particular the European Union, Bologna Follow Up Group, Council of Europe and UNESCO. Through its members, ESU represents around 15 million students in Europe. ESU receives an administrative grant and runs projects funded by the European Commission.

 

 

Column originally published on E-Learn Magazine on October 19, 2017.

 

By Kyoungah Lee, International Programming Coordinator & Advisor, University of Pittsburgh

 

My brother graduated from high school in South Korea and came to the United States to study engineering. In his first English class, he was very excited to receive his first homework assignment, which was to write sentences using a given set of vocabulary words. He confidently looked up the words in an online dictionary and copied the sample sentences he found there, which is, generally, what students do to complete homework in South Korea students mainly copy and paste the necessary material. However, his teacher wrote “no plagiarism” on his paper, so my brother asked me what “plagiarism” meant, as his plagiarism was not intentional. It was then that he realized that the education system was different here.

 

Unfortunately, my brother’s experience is fairly common among international students. Many new international students, in particular from Asia, are not familiar with what constitutes an infraction of academic integrity. Given that students behave rationally based on how they have grown up how they were trained and educated for more than 10 years international students often are not aware that certain actions have negative effects in American institutions due to cultural differences.1 As a result, it is possible to see how one’s perception of plagiarism can be based on historical and cultural assumptions.2

 

Colleges and universities in the United States have increased their efforts to recruit international students, and the number of international students has increased year over year to 1,043,839 in the 2015-2016 academic year. More than 60% of international students come from Asian countries, mostly from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.3 The education systems in those countries vary from the American system, and this may cause students to commit unintentional academic misconduct in America by not understanding the negative effects and consequences of their actions.

 

When international students think about academic integrity, they more likely think about cheating during an exam, but not really about proper citation, helping out classmates, or sharing their answers on an assignment or a take-home exam. Copying someone’s homework may not be a big deal in other countries because the role and purpose of homework can be very different, and homework tends not to have a big impact on the final grade. An example of a homework assignment in South Korea would be teachers collecting the students’ class notes, including what teachers wrote on the blackboard, and giving full points homework completion. Another example from a history class would be to write about World War II. In such cases, students tend to copy word for word from Wikipedia or blogs. Teachers spend time writing difficult exam questions in order to differentiate students from one another in the class ranking, rather than spend time carefully checking homework content, because class ranking is what really matters for students to get into a good college. Also, teachers do not warn students about copying homework from the internet or from friends, although they know students will do so because “copying” is not a negative concept in South Korea. Students may submit homework without any citations or references, and they get full points for it. Even though some teachers might not like to see everything copied from an online source, the consequences for doing so are minimal. For instance, teachers may just deduct 5 points off a homework assignment. Due to the competitive study environment in other countries, taking time to do homework might be viewed as wasting time that you could have spent studying for the national exams. Students are not taught about proper citation or APA/MLA format throughout K-12; in contrast, citation is a very important concept that is taught early on in America to prevent plagiarism.

 

Many students in Asian countries are accustomed to a learning style of memorizing concepts and others’ work, and reproducing them. For instance, in English class, I used to memorize paragraphs and was asked to reproduce the exact words in the same order as proof that I studied. We were educated to have strong memorization skills. There was a famous AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Account) exam prep center in South Korea and many students attended those review sections. Many of those students studied hard and took an AICPA exam in English. After a month, investigators from America flew to Korea because they suspected cheating since a large group of students had the same answers in a writing section. In fact, there was no cheating or dishonesty; students just memorized the same sample answers to the same questions and then wrote them down on the exam. This happens in the writing or speaking portion of the English proficiency tests such as TOEIC and TOEFL, as students tend to memorize answers word by word and reproduce them on exams.

 

Students in other countries may not hesitate to ask another student for class notes and homework assignments. Also, most will not mind sharing them because class notes and homework assignments do not play a big role in determining students’ final grade. Students from other countries tend to be more collectivistic than American students. In Korean culture, if anyone refuses to share, he/she may be viewed as mean and treated as a social outcast. Because we have a competitive study environment and class ranking really matters in South Korea, some students may worry that a friend might get a higher grade using his or her notes, since tests are based on what the teacher said in class. In that case, they will not want to share their class notes, but will still be generous to the other students if they could not take notes because of a family emergency or sickness.

 

This education system has worked well in South Korea to help students learn many subject areas in a short amount of time, and be able to understand concepts well and thoroughly. In fact, this is one of the main factors that has helped transform the country and rapidly grow its economy over the past 60 years. This is not to say that one system is better than the others, but rather, that they are different. International students in America should not be excused just because they are not used to the system, nor should institutions change their policies and expectations - it is the student’s responsibility not to violate any academic codes of conduct. Nevertheless, institutes are responsible for educating students properly to support their needs, as having international students simply come over is not enough for them to succeed academically and to pursue their academic dream. In order to provide proper training, it is helpful for staff and faculty to understand cultural differences in academia and to know how to communicate expectations and policies effectively to international students.

 

Sources

 

1 Thomas, D. A. (2004). How educators can more effectively understand and combat the plagiarism epidemic. Brigham Young University Education & Law Journal, (2), 421–430.

 

2 Duff, A. H., Rogers, D. P., & Harris, M. B. (2006). International Engineering Students--Avoiding Plagiarism through Understanding the Western Academic Context of Scholarship. European Journal Of Engineering Education, 31(6), 673-681.

 

3 Institute of International Education. (2016). "Top 25 Places of Origin of International Students, 2014/15-2015/16." Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

 

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on Oct 16, 2017.

 

Goethe once said “There is nothing worth thinking but it has been thought before; we must only try to think it again.”1 In an increasingly collaborative, information-based world, is our view of textual ownership becoming outdated?

Integrity is often described as adherence to moral or ethical principles.2 Academic integrity, for its part, comprehends a set of well-accepted rules followed by the most renowned universities, mainly western institutions, which receive students from all over the world. However, in order to understand how these rules were created – many of them regarding academic writing – we need to first understand western views of ownership of text.

The western ideological perspective of textual ownership sees the author as the single creator of his texts. In this context, plagiarism is considered as a violation against the author and thereby is morally wrong.3

Alastair Pennycook, distinguished professor of Language, Society and Education at the University of Technology Sidney, however, sees plagiarism as a more complex phenomenon that is associated to the relationships between text, learning and memory.

In his view, what defines plagiarism is the way cultures understand the notions of authorship and textual ownership. The ownership of text, he argues, is a western concept originated in the Enlightenment era, when there was a shift from a mimetic, biblical, premodern paradigm, to a productive, modern way of thinking. 4

In the premodern paradigm, individual creativity was attributed to a divine inspiration. As a result, literary work was un-authored during this period. The Enlightenment replaced that point of view for a new one according to which “Imagination was no longer a mimetic capacity, but a productive force.” The humanist subject became “the centre of creativity;” that and the notion of property rights “produced an understanding of individual ownership of ideas and language. […] This understanding of imagination is clearly closely tied to the development of the notion of the author,” Pennycook writes.4

The conceptions of copyright and intellectual property first appeared in British law around 1710.4 It was the beginning of authorship as western societies now understand it, based on a capitalist view of property and ownership, that resulted in the current concept of plagiarism as it is accepted in educational institutions. “It assumes that everything of value can be owned, bought, and sold and that ideas, knowledge, and art are created by individuals who have the rights of ownership,” researchers Lea Calvert Evering and Gary Moorman write. 5

 

Postmodern questions

But what does it mean to be an author? Is it possible to write only original ideas? Can an author really own an idea? In the 19th century, some new conceptions appeared and the modernist paradigm begins to be called into doubt.

Pennycook points out that “The notion of the individual as creative guarantor of meaning and originality, this particular vision of self and authenticity, has taken a fair battering since Marx, Freud, and others have questioned the notion of the unmediated and authentic expression of self.”4

According to him, the postmodern and poststructuralist positions on language, discourse, and subjectivity, raise serious questions for any notion of individual creativity or authorship. "If, instead of a Self or an Identity, we consider the notion of subjectivity, or indeed subjectivities (we are, in a sense, the fragmented products of different discourses), then we arrive at more or less a reversal of the speaking subject creating meaning: we are not speaking subjects but spoken subjects, we do not create language but are created by it.” 4 To Pennycook, the postmodernist view has moved from “the author owning and giving meaning to text to the notion that meaning is derived from the interaction with a text.”3

Pennycook cites Richard Kearney to suggest that “Postmodernism casts a suspecting glance on the modernist cult of creative originality," a kind of skepticism that points to the need to “reevaluate beliefs in originality and textual ownership.” He writes, “There is a degree of hypocrisy in the defense of the culture of originality because postmodern understandings of language and meaning, by contrast, point to the possibility of little more than a circulation of meanings.”3

 

Digital revolution

It was 1967, three decades before the beginning of the internet as we know today, when Roland Barthes wrote The Death of the Author. In his essay, the French literary critic argued that “All writing is itself this special voice, consisting of several indiscernible voices, and that literature is precisely the invention of this voice, to which we cannot assign a specific origin: literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes.”6

Deceased in 1980, Barthes never came to know the World Wide Web and the technologies and collaborative tools now available that have made the boundaries of authorship so hazy. Traditional definitions of plagiarism are being challenged by the digital revolution, indicating perhaps an approximation with a postmodernist line of thought, and also with Barthes’ ideas about the changing concept of authorship.

What does it mean to be original in a society where the circulation of ideas and information is so intense and incessant? Consider, for example, a collaborative website like Wikipedia. If hundreds, or even thousands of people are contributing to write a more accurate, complete article about a specific subject, who is the author of that? And beyond that, does it matter? Couldn’t it be that the sum of individual contributions is creating something richer and better?

For researchers Evering and Moorman, easy access to massive amounts of information are making policing for ownership of ideas nearly impossible. This situation has caused the current millennial generation to see knowledge ownership, acquisition, and distribution in radically different terms than in previous generations. Clearly, academia is past due in reevaluating the concept and how we deal with it in secondary and higher education.” 5

They argue that, since much of the content on the internet is free, in their lives outside of school it is second nature for millennials to download, copy, and paste. “Their concept of ownership is different from the one their teachers and professors grew up with and have come to take for granted.” According to the researchers, additional analysis and definition of intellectual property is needed by both students and faculty. 5

Another issue is the expectations and academic standards imposed on millennials. In assignments that emphasize creativity, innovation, and collaboration, it may be difficult to credit the original source. Also, as collaboration is becoming one of the most desired competencies for 21st century companies, students are highly encouraged to use tools such as wikis, social media and document sharing and editing platforms. “Web 2.0 tools designed to foster digital literacy and socially constructive online learning experiences have altered conventions and cultural norms for writing,” say Evering and Moorman. 5

 

Ideological arrogance?

There are also cultural considerations to be made. The emphasis on creativity and authorship typical of the West is not followed in many cultures around the world, especially in Asian nations, where knowledge can be seen as a shared property rather than an individual possession.

Students that come from these cultures to attend western universities often struggle to understand very different concepts and rules about academic integrity, since the modernist interpretation of textual ownership is still eminent in western academia, with an emphasis on individual ownership of text and the need for attribution.

Hong Jian, a researcher from Xishuangbanna Vocational & Technical Institute, compares learning styles of American and Chinese students in a paper called A Contrastive Study of Cultural Diversity of Learning Styles between China and the United States.7 He concludes that “Due to cultural diversity, Americans […] emphasize the pragmatism of the knowledge, but to some extent, the result of teaching and learning styles lead to lack of systematical knowledge. In contrast, owing to the deep-rooted influence of Confucianism for thousands of years, harmony, unity, and hierarchy are important considerations for Chinese students in the process of learning. Its teaching puts more emphasis on transmission of systematical knowledge, ignoring the cultivation of creativity and innovation,” he explains.

In order to reduce the number of violations due to unintentional cheating, institutions should develop specific policies and support mechanisms for foreign students. It is important that faculty is flexible and understands that they come from a different sociocultural environment, and teach them writing techniques so that they know how to put into practice a new interpretation on integrity, as opposed to criticizing or invalidating their knowledge, learning style or educational experience.

Deriding other cultures for their supposedly imitative cultural practices may be a form of ideological arrogance, as Pennycook points out. “The important point here is that whereas we can see how the notion of plagiarism needs to be understood within the particular cultural and historical context of its development, it also needs to be understood relative to alternative cultural practices.

Defining what it means to act with integrity in academia might become more and more challenging as the world turns increasingly globalized and digital. What we know for sure is that institutions will need to strive to understand the needs and conceptions of the incoming student generations. It may be time to rethink some of the western notions of textual ownership, and look at the collaborative world that is emerging from a refreshed and more flexible point of view.

 

Sources

1 Von Goethe, J. W. (2013). Maxims and reflections. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from http://www.philaletheians.co.uk/study-notes/living-the-life/goethe's-maxims-and-reflections.pdf

2International Center for Academic Integrity. (n.d.). About Integrity. Retrieved August 29, 2017, from http://www.academicintegrity.org/icai/integrity-1.php.

3Introna, L., Hayes, N., Blair, L., & Wood, E. (2003, August). Cultural attitudes towards plagiarism: developing a better understanding of the needs of students from diverse cultural backgrounds relating to issues of plagiarism. Retrieved August 29, 2017, from http://www.academia.edu/1362321/Cultural_attitudes_towards_plagiarism.

4Pennycook, A. (1996). Borrowing Others Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and ... Retrieved August 29, 2017, from http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=870A63B2E5E24664820D45C54109991E&CID=336718CE093A6AFD0D221223083C6B51&rd=1&h=Ai-oHojFyZojNcNQAMwbYWu_aeFsdfV-BmGWZ0nBqNg&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2fwww.idt.mdh.se%2fkurser%2fcomputing%2fDVA403%2fDVA403-2012%2fLectures%2fBorrowingTextOwnershipPlagiarism.pdf&p=DevEx,5062.1.

5Evering, L. C., & Moorman, G. (2012). Rethinking Plagiarism in the Digital Age. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,56(1), 35-44. doi:10.1002/jaal.00100

6Barthes, R. (n.d.). The Death of the Author. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from https://writing.upenn.edu/~taransky/Barthes.pdf.

7Jian, H. (2009). A Contrastive Study of Cultural Diversity of Learning Styles between China and the United States. International Education Studies, 2(1). doi:10.5539/ies.v2n1p163.

Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on Oct 10, 2017

 

Dr. Tracey Bretag has dedicated the past 15 years to academic integrity research. She is an Associate Professor and Director of the Office for Academic Integrity at the University of South Australia, where she led The Academic Integrity Standards Project, The Exemplary Academic Integrity Project and the Contract Cheating and Assessment Design Project (currently in progress). Dr. Bretag is also the founding Editor of the International Journal for Educational Integrity, which disseminates research on that subject across all sectors.

 

In this interview, she talks about the rise of contract cheating, the importance of establishing supportive mechanisms for academic integrity policies and the challenges that new technologies have brought to the subject.

 

Blackboard: How would you define academic integrity and why is it so important in academia?

 

Tracey Bretag: According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, in the United States, academic integrity is premised on five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. These values are put into practice through the additional virtue of courage. In Australia, we tend to talk about what it means for the academic community to put into practice those values. If the students don’t work honestly, they won’t be learning that much. A classic example of that is if students cheat in an exam, they don’t have the prerequisite knowledge they need for the next subject or level, or indeed for professional practice. It’s also important for the value of people’s qualifications, because if employers or other sectors in higher education cannot trust that your qualification is obtained honestly, then that undermines their trust in graduates’ abilities. It’s also important for the institution’s reputation. And finally, when we go out into professional practice, if we haven’t earned those qualifications honestly, we put the public’s safety at risk. Here’s an easy example: if a doctor is doing an operation, if that doctor has cheated on exams, as a patient you don’t want to worry that he or she really knows the difference between your pancreas and your liver, right?

 

Bb: In your opinion, what are the main causes of academic dishonesty?

 

T.B: I think academic dishonesty, or breaches of academic integrity, are really systemic issues. In terms of higher education, its whole focus has changed through the years. The massification and the internationalization of higher education have had an impact in many ways. When we have second language learners, students from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are educationally less prepared, we need to put appropriate support in place so that they can achieve their learning potential. We have increasing competition at every level: for places in a university, for jobs when students graduate, for research funding, for institutional reputation and so on – so competition is everywhere. And digital disruption and new technologies have made more and more information available, and it hasn’t actually increased our learning and our capacity to think critically. All of those things had come together to create a “perfect storm” where students have started to see their qualifications as simply pieces of paper that they should get so that they can get a job. They don’t understand that they are at that institution to study, to learn, to be personally transformed so that they can contribute to the transformation of society. And then, on top of all of those things, we’ve got personal motivations. Some people in education cheat, just as there is a small percentage of people in wider society who cheat. Finally, particularly in higher education, there’s a lack of genuine support, funding and resources for really good teaching and learning practices. The fact of the matter is, in higher education what really is rewarded is research. And to be really good in teaching, you need to have time for scholarship and to work on your teaching material. Ultimately, this results in both staff and students being unengaged in the learning process.

 

Bb: Your research projects reviewed policies and procedures related to academic integrity, as well as the way universities educate students and staff about that subject. What were your findings?

 

T.B: There’s no point in talking about academic integrity unless you have a really good policy in place. We looked at policies in Australian universities. And we looked at five core elements of exemplary policy: access, that means the policy is easy to locate and read; approach, meaning it should have an educative rather than a punitive focus; responsibility, and that means that a good policy articulates the responsibilities for all stakeholders, not just students; detail, in the sense that the students and staff need to go to the policy and understand what academic integrity is, what a breach of integrity is, and what the processes are for dealing with that; and support, that is, you can’t just talk about it, but you have to provide proactive and embedded systems to enable the implementation of the policy. We did a very large survey of around 15,000 students, and the big finding was that there are mixed understandings about academic integrity policy and process, and that students don’t always understand what they have to do. In particular, our international, second language students were two to three times more likely to say they didn’t understand what academic integrity was, even with support. Not surprisingly, they reported that they have been involved in academic integrity breach investigations at a higher rate than local students. If you don’t understand what academic integrity is, of course you’re going to find it hard to demonstrate it in your work. And a surprising finding was that our postgraduate research students said they needed more support and resources around academic integrity, so that they also could do their work with integrity.

 

Bb: Has your research revealed differences between occurrences of online learning plagiarism compared to face-to-face education?

 

T.B: In my most recent research, on contract cheating, again we had over 15,000 responses from students across 12 institutions in Australia. We found that there’s very little difference in the types of academic integrity breaches between online and face-to-face students. What we did find is that it tended to be more collusion, which is unauthorized collaboration, in a face-to-face environment, because students on campus have a lot more social capital, but often cross the line into collusion. That was one interesting finding, but other than that, it was similar. The other thing that we found is that a lot of cheating happens in online quizzes that students might be asked to do in a face-to-face environment. Educators need to be very mindful of the possibility of academic integrity breaches, whether the students are completely online, or whether it’s in a face-to-face environment.

 

Bb: What are the reasons why students look for contract cheating?

 

T.B: There are a couple of reasons why they do that. One of them is the proliferation of marketing-savvy online commercial providers. Students have always engaged in outsourcing their work to some extent, but now it’s not just your friends and family that might help you, there are these incredible marketing-savvy online providers. And now students, particularly the second language international learners, who are struggling often in the western environment with the new learning requirements, are targeted by those unscrupulous cheat sites. They even infiltrate the universities systems, promoting their services through official email and social media sites. To make it more confusing, these unscrupulous cheat sites often use publicity to pretend they’re legitimate university services. I think at times it can be really confusing for students to differentiate between appropriate tutoring and support services, and those “services” that are really cheat sites in disguise.

 

Bb: What other challenges arise from these new technologies?

 

T.B: We have seen so many challenges over the last 15 years about plagiarism and students copying and pasting from online sources. To a large extent, those issues have been addressed through the development of very good text-matching software, as well as other learning support resources. Our next big challenge alongside contract cheating is a whole new technology around online paraphrasing and translation tools. For example, an article written in Chinese. You can, at a click of a button, translate that into English very well, and then you can click another button, using other software, which will paraphrase that text so that it doesn’t get picked up by text-matching software. These tools are so easy to use and very difficult for markers to detect.

 

Bb: What could universities in other countries learn from the results of your studies?

 

T.B: The big lesson is that there is no quick fix to this issue. This is very complex. A culture of academic integrity requires a commitment at absolutely every level of the academic enterprise, from the way you market your university, the way you recruit students, the orientation you provide to students when they first come to your institution. And then when students know what academic integrity is, you need to keep talking about it and provide training to teaching and administrative staff. But teachers need to have real resources so that they have time and the support to develop engaging, authentic assessment which will not only promote learning, but will be less likely to be outsourced. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to eradicate cheating through assessment, but we are certainly going to address it to some extent. We need to understand the benefits and the downfalls of new technologies and be constantly adapting to address that. Let’s say, for example, the big push is for online education, but what does it mean in terms of authenticating the identity of students who you’ll never meet? The other thing that has come from our studies is that there is no point in talking about academic integrity if there are no real consequences when there are breaches. And we need to reevaluate what is happening, what are the issues we need to address, keep on top of technology and continuously learn about it. There is a very large international community working together to address those many issues. We should not get despondent that cheating is occurring, but get excited about what we can do to make cultures of integrity the norm in education.

 

 

Tips on how to develop an effective academic integrity policy

 

  • Follow the five core elements of an academic integrity policy: access, approach, responsibility, detail and support.
  • Get help. On the Exemplary Academic Integrity Policy website, there is software that helps with policy development. It provides many tips and examples for the proper development of policies so you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • Listen to your stakeholders. Consult all stakeholders in your academic community to collectively develop a document. Students should take part in the development of this policy. If you come up with a policy that everybody owns, it is more likely to be complied with.