eLFA2012 day 1

I’ve had the pleasure of delivering a paper on the project at the eLearning Forum Asia 2012 conference. It is being held for the first time in mainland China and alongside the Chinese delegates, there are people from institutions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore as well as from further afield: Australia and the USA. I am the only academic from Europe.

The first day offered much food for thought. Prof Zhu Zhi Ting from the East China Normal University offered a very thought provoking opening which covered a huge range of material in a very short time. (He certainly kept the translators on their toes!) He touched on flipped classrooms, the overlap between eLearning and ePublishing, the development of eSchoolbags, cognitive theory and neuroscience. What I found particularly interesting was his exploration of the idea of competence trust in terms of connection learning theory (drawing on the work of Siemens). He made some connections between these ideas and Confucian philosophy which I found fascinating, particularly in relation to a paper I read recently on different understandings of academic integrity in different cultures. I also think that this is worth exploring in terms of student-facing learning analytics. This was amplified by a plenary delivered by Prof Doug Vogel from City U of Hong Kong later in the day. He reported on some fascinating research on social networking. His team has found a strong correlation between social networking and student engagement. He discussed the way that the competence trust operates as a kind a social capital (known as Guanxi in Chinese culture). Diane argued that this is similar to the employability attribute of knowledge sharing and integration.

All of these speakers were asked similar questions: how do we measure this in terms of student learning outcomes. Over and over again, the same question is being asked: how do we know that students are learning well? And this is where I think that assessment analytics comes in which is what my paper focused on here. Other than my paper, there’s a lot of talk about analytics and social learning. Being able to bring the two together (harnessing folksonomies and gamification perhaps) seems like a really exciting prospect to me right now.

Other news: Blackboard are announcing a new analytics platform called Bb Analytics for Learn. I’m going to find out more about it today to see if it might serve as a viable analytics engine for us.