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High School Programs – Integration of credit for Formal and Informal Learning
By creating blended courses based on an interdisciplinary approach, the New Tech Network is a non-profit organization that supports school in the US and in Australia. Based on problem based learning strategies, students complete interdisciplinary projects that meet authentic learning outcomes. New Tech Network depends on the support of industry and community partners to build its learning network. A similar, yet different program is Opening Minds, which developed from Howard Gardners Open Minds Essay from 1993. With five categories of competence, Opening Minds Schools have developed a competency based interdisciplinary framework that promotes the individual learner. However, interdisciplinary competency based programs do not blend well with current state course credit offerings. Currently, the Ohio Credit Flexibility program and New Hampshire and prek – CEGEP Quebec Education Plan competency based curriculum program best meet the needs of this type of program. There are many other outstanding examples of amazing individual schools offering learning pathways and unique learning opportunities, however; New Tech Network is able to offer a scalable and connected program to networked learning communities.
After School Programs: PASA Providence Afterschool Alliance
PASA programs initiated through the leadership and dedication of the Providence city council. The program is focused on an Expanded Learning Opportunities Experience. (ELO Experience) Middle and high school students are offered specific learning opportunities outside of their regular school program in partnership with community-based program providers. These opportunities are designed around an authentic personalized student project based experience. Students are then offered high school elective credit for their project. The formative assessment is measured through a rubric and an open badge system. The feedback team includes the community organization or industry mentor as well as the teacher. The credibility of this program is due to the transparent, collaborative and tireless efforts of the PASA team.
The Sister Exchange School program was developed around a desire to connect rural and urban schools in Alaska and to develop indigenous cultural awareness for all students through a competency based, digital storytelling learning environment. Although the program has been running since 2003, it was the recent creation of a digital learning pathways platform that promoted community, networks, collaboration and an emphasis on formal and informal learning opportunities. The Jibe software company created the learning pathways tool to initiate a hybrid learning environment.
The Specialist High Skills Major program promotes bundling of specific high school courses to encourage designing a personalized learning path for focused students towards a trade,apprenticeship, college or university programs. Students will meet the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma with the addition of SHSM seal on their diploma.
K12 and Higher Education: 3D Game Lab
The 3D Game Lab is based out of Boise State University and is led by Chris Haskell and Lisa Dawley. Chris recently shared the iNACOL Innovation Award for Online or Blended Learning practice. The 3D Lab is based on Quest Based Learning (QBL) which, incorporates game mechanics, and gamer-like learning communities which focuses on individualized and flexible curriculum experience. (Haskell, 2013) The experience is set up in a game like experience and students can create their own quests, teacher and student directed quests and receive badges for their learning. The 3D Game Lab is used by Chris Haskell and Lisa Dawley with Boise Education students as well as k12 schools. They currently have just over 4000 players. The learning is tracked and their progress can be self-monitored between a linear gradebook approach to learning versus a non-linear quest-based learning:
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Higher Education: Purdue Passport and Purdue PUPIL
Purdue Passport is considered a badge powered flexible tracking system for evidence of student learning at Purdue University. The passport system is the tool developed by Purdue studio projects to meet the personalized digital evidence of learning of students including their personal learning environments (PLE’s). Purdue passport offers a self-directed and instructor- directed tracking system. Where Passport differs from QBL, is that it is one part of a bigger vision which is a personalized integrated educational system based upon the PIES Framework.” PIES is a conceptual framework for a new educational software format that is designed to systematically support the entire learner-centered learning process, including facilitating the activities of all stakeholders” (Watson, W.R., Watson, S.L., & Charles M. Reigeluth, C. M., 2013, p.6). Purdue has also developed Purdue University’s Passport to Intercultural Learning. This is an institution wide, volunteer based, core competency framework to distinguish the following foundational learning outcomes: Human Cultures, Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility, and Intercultural Knowledge and Effectiveness. “ PUPIL is a tool to assist faculty and students in assessing and documenting the acquisition of these very important skills specific to Intercultural Knowledge and Effectiveness.” (Purdue Centre for Instructional Excellence. n.d.)
The PIES primary functions include:
1. Record keeping for student learning
1.1 Standards inventory
1.2 Personal attainments inventory
1.3 Personal characteristics inventory
2. Planning for student learning
2.1 Long-term goals
2.2 Current options
2.3 Short-term goals
3. Instruction for student learning
3.1 Project initiation
3.3 Project support
3.4 Instructional development
4. Assessment for (and of) student learning.
4.1 Presenting authentic tasks
4.2 Evaluating student performances
4.3 Providing immediate feedback
4.5 Developing student assessments
Higher Education – Alternative Education Models:
Similar to PASA’s work with middle and high school students, there are numerous examples of higher education collaborating with industry or community associations to create authentic learning projects for students and develop research and innovation initiatives for outside institution partners. One of these examples is the Vertically Integrated program at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Students are offered the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary and collaborative research project in their first year, which develops into an authentic personalized project into their 4th year. The projects are a team effort between the university and a variety of outside partners. Similarly, the University of Alberta is known to have offered numerous engineering – industry partnership projects in order to promote research and economic growth in the construction and oil and gas sector. These partnership programs also promote mentoring for students and digital literacy skill development for the mentors. The program, “ has been a pioneer at developing computer programs — 25 and counting — that increase the industry’s efficiency.” (Simpson, 2013) Learning to collaborate and participate in projects that develop authentic learning skills (formal and informal) can offer students an edge for their future careers.
Open Badges in Higher Education
While Purdue University has examples of instructors of formal courses and informal courses and communities offering open badges and designing learning pathways, there are other examples of open badges in Higher Education. The UC Davis’ Agricultural Sustainability Institute has developed a competency-based approach for badges for the sustainable agriculture and food systems major. Badges can also help support the transition from grades based assessment as exemplified by Quinnipiac University and the Interactive Communications Courses. Badges are emerging as a viable option for competency based and alternative assessment models.
Degreed – Cloud Based Tracking of formal and informal learning
Degreed is a free web 2.0 tool that can be used as a curation system for any formal and informal learning. Degreed tracks a wide variety of learning opportunities and will give a Degreed score. For example, college credit courses and ITunesU MOOC courses will both be considered and integrated to create a Degreed score.
Uncollege is a newly created model based on the GAP year between high school and college. However, instead of just taking one year off, then going to college, Uncollege advocates for a four phase system – Launch, Voyage, Internship and Project. Uncollege suggests that the informal learning from a GAP year for learners will be more cost effective, save more time and will be a more authentic learning experience than spending four years at college/university/.
Quest University offers arts and sciences undergraduate degrees based on interdisciplinary block scheduling. A similar inquiry based learning approach with small classes is also offered at a wide variety of liberal arts colleges in the United States. The focus on authentic personalized and interdisciplinary learning opportunities and projects make the QUEST Model an example of how to consider integrating formal and informal learning for credit.
Software and learning assessment tools:
School Pathways – BrainHoney – PLS – Personalized Learning System
The personalized learning system creates learning pathways for individual students within a LMS (Learning Management System) like model. Students receive digital individual learning pathways that still fit and integrate into larger courses and programs. School Pathways is primarily based out of California.
This SCORM software can help track student learning by collecting data into a Learning Record Store (LRS). This data could be connected to a Learning Management System or a teacher could use it for an individual course. Students have the ability to go to websites or complete online activities based on set locations, and then send their data back to the Learning Record Store. The data can be collected from any online environment.
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Keiro – the JIbe (Vancouver)
Keiro is a learning pathways tool and social network that can be used to support competency based, personalized, inquiry and collaborative learning by integrating a supportive ePortfolio like tool with a digital repository. Keiro could be described as a hybrid mix of a LMS, ePortfolio, markbook, content repository and interactive learning system. Keiro will offer a foundation for the new curriculum developments in k12, in particular BC and Alberta. Currently in the beta stage, Keiro is used by the Alaska Humanities Forum, Educurious and is currently looking for pilots with k12, Higher Education and industry training stakeholders.
Mozilla open badges has created a platform for learners to collect their open badges. Open badges from a wide variety of organizations can be stored in an individual mozilla backpack. The badge criteria and authorization is determined by the badge offering institutions, and not Mozilla Open Badges.
Competitions and Research
The Digital Media and Learning Hub is a non-profit organization with a mission to advance research in the service of a more equitable, participatory, and effective ecosystem of learning keyed to the digital and networked era. The DML Hub holds competitions to support this mission as well as offers multimedia resources (blogs, webinars, resources) and an annual conference.
HASTAC is the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory. With an alliance of more than 11,500 humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists and technologists working together to transform the future of learning for the 21st century. HASTAC offers an innovative integration of people with digital support to distribute change making research for education.
Mozilla Open Badges Community: The Mozilla open badges community offers weekly calls, digital resources, professional learning opportunities support and connections for any institutions trying to initiate open badge programs. They offer their support to industry, community associations and educational institutions for free. The Mozilla team also models transparency, openness and collaboration and how to integrate open badges – or any of their projects – into authentic learning environments. Current research from Glover and Latif (2013) on the possibility of open badges in higher education suggests that “The reaction from the staff and students was overwhelmingly positive, with both students and staff seeing significant potential in the use of badges as a way for students to standout from their peers when applying for graduate jobs, placements or further study. The students were particularly interested in using badges to support their professional identity and stated that earning a badge, especially a ‘rare’ one, would motivate them to put in more effort or do some extra additional work. Staff were generally interested in being able to use badges to track the progress of their students and to encourage students to make use of support programmes, for example, those around information skills such as referencing.”