Tag Archives: research

Penn State’s Education Technology Ecosystem

I finally put the finishing touches on Penn State’s Education Technology Ecosystem report. This document will likely live on the “SITE Research” section of this website until we move the blog and research page over to departmental webspace later this year.  The first draft of the report (what I’m calling version .1) contains information on the usage of the Penn State Blog Platform and Wikispaces, our institutional Wiki install.  Check it out and let us know what you think.  Big thanks to co-authors Jimmy Xie and Cole Camplese for ideas and assistance with the analysis.  Also thanks to Brad and Hubing for the data dumps.  This project would not have been possible without collaboration between the Schreyer Institute, Education Technology Services and Emerging Technologies

One of the highlights of the report includes a cluster analysis of blog users, which returns three classifications:

  1. Comment dominant users
  2. Entry dominant users
  3. Infrequent users

When we dig a bit further, we find that, over time, the entry dominant users’ GPA increases .06 GPA points from the time they start blogging, compared to .01 GPA for infrequent users and .02 GPA for comment dominant users.

The next minor update will add examples of faculty use of wikis and blogs.  The next major update will focus on the inclusion of iTunesU data.  Thanks to Brian in ETS for the recent export of iTunes data.  Once the semester calms down a bit, we’ll be getting that data into a format to mash with the datawarehouse and see what we discover…

Institute Research

We are in the process of moving this blog/website from personal PSU space over to departmental space, so I’ll be toying around with the settings over the next week or so in prep for the migration.  In the meantime, we created a “SITE Research” page, available from the top navigation of this page.  I’m putting a lot of effort into finalizing a large report on Blog and Wiki use that will eventually be posted to the Research page, and we’re also working on what we are tentatively calling ‘Research Starter Kits’, basic packets of information for our Teaching Support Grant recipients to hopefully jumpstart the research process around specific topics.  Anyone think of a better name or acronym instead of Research Starter Kits?

Learning Design Summer Camp 2010 slides

The presentation slides from the Learning Design Summer Camp are now available in PDF format. I’m working on the first draft of the actual report and I’ll be posting a link in the next few weeks where people can go do download that document. 

Some really good questions and ideas were discussed during the session. Many folks were interested in the number of blogs and wikis that are being used for educational vs. other purposes.  Unfortunately, that’s not something we can determine from the quantitative data; that will take a good chunk of time for someone to determine a random sample then go out and visit each URL to classify the usage of each space.  We are hoping to get to that, but it won’t be any time in the near future. 

A few notes of interest from the presentation:

  • When examining instructor use of both platforms, ‘Professor’, ‘Associate Professor’, and ‘Assistant Professor’ make up nearly 50% of all instructor usage of Wikispaces.  Those three categories of instructors make up ~25% of all instructor usage of Blogs @ PSU. One reason could be the flexibility of Wikispaces to be used for things like project management and research collaboration.  Another reason cited numerous times related to IP; it appears that faculty see Wikispaces as a much more secure space for their intellectual capital (but the Blogs @ PSU platform does allow individuals to create protected blog spaces).
  • When examining blogging characteristics and cumulative GPA of student bloggers, we see a significant difference between students that are infrequent users of the blog platform compared to those that tend to be entry-dominant users (creating several entries across several blogs, and staying active in the blog platform). When we examine pure means of these groups, the infrequent users experience a .01 increase in GPA from the time they first entered the blog platform to their most recent activity, where entry-dominant bloggers experience a .06 increase in GPA.
  • Both these platforms can play an interesting role in elearning at PSU.  Some folks are using Wikispaces as an elearning platform, which is an interesting idea if faculty do not have a design team to help launch an elearning course.  Biology 110 appears to be fully built-out in Wikispaces (PSU authentication required).  In terms of open courseware initiatives, faculty are creating some incredibly powerful online materials in both Wikispaces and Blogs @ PSU that Penn State needs to begin thinking about how these resources might be leveraged to enhance the breadth and depth of education across the system.

Please let me know if the PDF of the slides does not open properly.  For some reason I experienced troubles opening the file, but other colleagues indicate it works fine.

Does Online Education Fare Batter than Face-to-Face Learning?

In the July 19, 2020 issue of InsideHigherEd (see http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/16/online) the debate between whether online or face-to-face education contributes equally to learning or not continues. The study that gives online educators the upper hand is now claimed to be flawed. For those who wish to compare online education and on-the-ground education, an attempt to understand the differences in the mechanisms of teaching is warranted.

Learning Design Summer Camp 2010

Tomorrow is the third annual Learning Design Summer Camp, bringing together designers, technologists, faculty and other interesting Penn Staters for a day of interesting discussion in the IST Cybertorium.  A few of us here in the Institute have been examining what we call “Penn State’s Technology Ecosystem“, specifically focusing on Undergraduate Education.  Tomorrow at 1:00, I’ll be presenting in room 106 on our initial findings.

In a nutshell, we took data from two Penn State technology platforms: Wikispaces and Blogs@PSU.  This data was then combined with institutional data from Penn State’s data warehouse.  Some of the questions I’ll be exploring during the session tomorrow afternoon include:

  • What are the profiles of students that tend to use this technology?
  • What faculty are using these platforms? How are they using them?
  • Where are we, as a university, in terms of adoption?
  • What Colleges/Departments are already using these platforms in a pedagogically-sound way? (with examples)
  • What sort of impact are these platforms having on student performance?

After the presentation, I will put the finishing touches on a document outlining our initial findings and post a link here on where  you can download a copy of the report.  Already, we’re seeing some very interesting trends with the use of both platforms across the university with a positive impact on student performance! 

Penn State’s Methodology Center

When I left IST and came to the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, one of the biggest challenges for me was the scope of work.  I was used to working within a single College here at PSU compared to working with the Institute, interacting with Faculty and administrators across the entire state-wide system.  Over the last 8 months, I’ve discovered many new centers or organizations within Penn State.  The latest discovery is the Methodology Center.  From their website:

The Methodology Center is an interdisciplinary center that comprises faculty, research associates, post-docs, and students from several academic disciplines, including human development, psychology, statistics, and public health. Our work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and by the National Science Foundation.

We recently received a methodological question here in the Institute and struggled to find an answer until Ann pointed us to the Methodology Center.  Thanks Ann!

The Undergraduate Education Technology Ecosystem @ PSU: Wikispaces

With a big project just wrapping up, I’m starting to explore how students here at PSU leverage our wide variety of technology platforms.  Luckily, Penn State has a wide variety of in-house platforms we leverage for undergraduate education.  The first platform I’m exploring is Wikispaces from Emerging Technologies (thanks to the folks at ET for the data!). 

The data below represents a very quick pass at the numbers.  I started by looking at all the students who used Wikispaces in Fall 2009 and made AT LEAST one edit to a page (n = 1095).

  • 52.4% are classified as adult learners.  This needs further exploration because the wikispaces entire data set (n = 3414) seems to show a great deal of institutional use of the space vs. student use.  My initial guess is that a lot of these students classified as adult learners are also PSU employees, and their use of wikispaces might be work related vs. education related.
  • 25.6 average number of edits per user.  This number doesn’t mean much until you break it down further.  Of the 1095 students, 420 students (38.3%) made only 1 edit and 783 students (71.5%) made less than 10 edits. Students with 10 or more edits made an average of 166.3 edits in Fall 2009.  I would consider this a potential dividing line for regular users vs. power users of wikispaces.
  • The College of IST represented the largest userbase at 201 unique users, followed by Liberal Arts (186), Engineering (92), Capital College (92), and the College of Education (75).  Two things jump out at me: IST is one of the smallest Colleges on campus but has the highest number of users. Not surprising given the context.  Capital College (Harrisburg) coming in at the number 4 spot is very interesting and merits deeper exploration.
  • In terms of Campus utilization, UP had 715 unique users, followed by World Campus (171), Harrisburg (97), New Kensington (41) and Altoona (11).
  • The gender split is nearly even, with  males representing 57.9% and females 42.1% of users.
  • The average GPA of users is 3.23 and average credits is 59.45.

Obviously much more exploration is necessary, but I thought I’d put these numbers up for people to get a snapshot of Wikispaces utilization by undergraduate students in Fall 2009.