Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leaning Stats on iTunesU

Over the past week I have been following an intro statistics course from UC Berkley, taught by Prof. Hank Ibsner. I find his teaching style very refreshing. He is committed to ensuring that his students understand why you do what you do in stats before showing how you do it. This teaching style really resonates with me.

When Prof. Ibsner is covering a new concept, for example standard deviation (SD) he does not give the formula first and then explain the concept. Rather he explains the concept to such a point that the formula becomes obvious. This is a good approach for me anyway and I have found that many people feel that they a stats concept once they know the formula, but do they know why something is calculated a particular way or what each variable means?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relearning through iTunesU - Class starts today

At the start of most years I always like to try to learn new things. This year I decided to do something a bit different, I am going to relearn things that I learned a long time ago - I am going to do refresher courses. I have decided to do all this using iTunesU. This is really a great resource, my only problem about it is that it is in Apple propriety software - you need iTunes to access.

So what am I going to relearn. After much debate with myself I decided to refresh my technical skills a bit and get to grips data structures and algorithms, computing paradigms (python programming) and statistics again. I also decided to throw in iPhone development from Stanford, just for kicks. I will let you know how I get on..

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seneca Aviation Project

Busy day today! I spent the first half of the day up at Buttonville Airport just North of Toronto. This is where Seneca College has its School of Aviation. I was there to kick off the start of our work on a NSERC funded research project that will look to improve pilot training in Canada. Our part of the project looks at how on-line learning can be a part of that. More information can on the project can be found here.

At the moment we are focusing on Inter-Rater Reliability (IRR) of instructors and how this can be improved. This involved a lot of filming today of various different flying scenarios in very cool flight simulators - really interesting stuff!

The second half of the day continued on the IRR theme but this time I went up to Air Canada to have a chat with there training co-ordinator on how they calibrate their examiners. This was a really useful insight into how this industry maintains a high level of excellence in pilots through constant learning and development.

The whole day left me buzzing with ideas on how to improve IRR. I now need to solidify those ideas, as I get to test them out at the first IRR session on Wednesday. Time is tight!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Automatically identifying learning styles

Graf et al.(2009) Supporting Teachers in Identifying Students' Learning Styles in Learning Management Systems: An Automatic Student Modelling Approach, Journal of Educational Technology and Society 12(4)

Interesting paper that looks at automatically identifying a learner's learning style by their behaviour in a LMS. A behaviour is associated with each part of a LMS such as visiting a forum, or posing to the forum this is then mapped to a particular learning style. The authors use the Felder-Silverman learning style index. Each behaviour enforces or contradicts a Felder-Silverman learning preference.

The work is evaluated by comparing the results with using the traditional approach to identifying a Felder-Silverman learning style in learners - the ILS questionnaire. Results ranged from a precision of 73.33% to 79.33% - indicating a pretty decent accuracy.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mapping Learning Styles to Teaching Strategies and Electronic Media

Franzoni and Assar, (2009) Student Learning Styles Adaptation Method Based on Teaching Strategies and Electronic Media, Journal of Educational Technology and Society 12(4)

In this paper Franzoni & Assar looked to map teaching styles to learning styles and differnty types of electronic media to learning styles. The learning style theory used in the paper was Felder and Silverman's'. The work does not focus on e-learning and describes classroom-oriented strategies to satisfy each learner's learning style in a given class. As far as I can see the mappings described are based on intuition. There is no proof that applying a particular teaching style/electronic media to teaching for a particular learning style increases student performance.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Emerging Web Tech in HE - Saeed, Yang & Sinnappan

Saeed et. al - Emerging Web Technologies in Higher Education: A Case of Incorporating Blogs, Podcasts and Social Bookmarks in a Web Programming Course based on Students’ Learning Styles and Technology Preferences, Educational Technology and Society 12(4), 2010

Very interesting light read, nice one to have in the coffee shop. Looks at two main things; 1) Is there a co-relation between learner's learning styles and their preferred web technology and 2) Is academic performance positively influenced by the use of appropriate instructional technology as determined in 1.

Tentative co-relations were found between Felder & Solomon learning style scales, between different technologies and between learning styles and technology preferences. Although the researchers did manage to establish a relationship between learning styles and technology preference they did not go far enough to say if this whole exercise was worth it. Does a learner who used their preferred technology perform better? You would be inclined to believe it to be so but as the researchers did not create a control group or analysis these results with previous classes we don't really know.

Paper can be found at:

New Year - New Post

Ok ok, this is the year, this is the start of my REAL blogging year. I am going to make a real concerted effort to blog at least once a week. Lets see how I do...