Evidence-based teaching: Active learning works

In one of the largest metaanalysis of undergraduate STEM education published to date active learning has again been validated.

The evidence for using active, engaging techniques like group projects, using clickers to assess in-class learning, instant feedback/five minute papers, and similar tactics may help students meet learning objectives far better than lectures. Using evidence from 225 studies a research group led by Scott Freeman of the University of Washington found that students in traditional lecture-only courses were one-and-a-half times more likely to fail than were those in classes involving some form of active learning.

The studies used were focused on undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes at American universities.

This is no great shock to most educators, but it again underlines the need to translate research evidence into practice in education. The metaanalysis used studies done in regular classrooms so there is still work to be done in defining how active learning strategies like using instant feedback to gauge student responses, grouping students into content-focused workshops, and calling on individuals randomly translates to online courses.

The study suggests using an active learning approach improved students’ grades by about 6 percent, on average, and could even bump an individual student a full letter grade higher.

The study was published in PNAS.

Sloan-C proposal deadline extended

20th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning – CFP Extended to May 19, 2014.

October 29 – 31, 2014
Walt Disney World Swan 
and Dolphin Resort
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Driving Innovation with Online Learning

  • Call for proposals extended to May 19 – submit today
  • Registration is open. Early bird rates through August 29
  • Conference Theme Announced: Driving Innovation with Online Learning
  • Come celebrate our 20th anniversary


IHTL Article Submissions request – Engaging Mobile Technologies

The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Review has posted a request for articles for their upcoming issue centered on Engaging Mobile Technologies to Support Diverse Postsecondary Students.

Editors: Professor Amy Lee and Dr. Rhiannon D. Williams, University of Minnesota

From their call for contributions:

“This volume invites contributions that pertain to the intersections between learning technologies, access and equity, and pedagogy across diverse higher educational contexts. Current demographic, social, and economic contexts underscore the need for colleges and universities to support educational outcomes for an increasingly heterogeneous population, and to prepare graduates for the cognitive and intercultural complexity of the twenty-first century. Emerging research suggests that new technologies provide powerful opportunities to support learning, but in order to realize that potential, it is imperative to support practitioners’ capacity to meaningfully engage and integrate technology so as to support access, success, and learning outcomes for diverse populations.

We invite contributions from different disciplinary and institutional perspectives that explore the tensions and complexities of varying viewpoints and experiences with mobile technologies in undergraduate classrooms. Submissions will be peer reviewed in accordance with standard procedure for International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Review. ”

Contributions should be developed to fit one the three sections of the special issue:

a. Designing and sustaining effective institutional infrastructure to support integrated use of mobile technologies in postsecondary education.
b. Pedagogical and instructional activities that effectively utilize mobile technology to support diverse populations.
c. Assessment of learning.

Submission Procedure

The deadline for article submissions is July 1st, 2014. Please submit your full manuscript through the HETL Journal Management System (JMS) at https://www.hetl.org/journals/. If you are not currently registered on the HETL JMS, before you can submit your paper, you must first create a user account by clicking on the Register link and then create your user account. Please be sure to include the word mobileissue in the file name of your document to denote that it is for the special issue.

If there are any questions please contact Rhiannon Williams at will1395@umn.edu

Manuscripts must include:

•6000-8000 word article (excluding references)
•500-700 word abstract of the article
•Please submit authors names, affiliations and country, manuscript title and short bios of all authors
•Please remove your name and other personal information that identifies you from the text of the manuscript. Remove your name and other identifying details from the document properties. In referencing your own work use Author, A. (year). Or Author, A. (year) Article 1 and so on if you are citing more than one of your previous articles.


o  Submissions due July 1, 2014
o  Decisions will be made by October 1, 2014
o  Revisions of accepted manuscripts due December 1, 2014

ASTD TechKnowledge Conference 2014 announced

 Visit the official ASTD 2014 TechKnowledge website!

In Las Vegas, Nevada from January 22-24, 2014, ASTD will welcome more than 1,200 people who focus their daily attention on the design and delivery, management and strategy of technology and learning. Attendees will come together alongside 70 exhibitors in the learning technology space to learn, network, and move people forward through the application of learning and technology.

Faculty Summer Institute in Illinois

Teaching in Illinois?

The Faculty Summer Institute (FSI) Program Committee would like to invite you to submit a proposal for this year’s conference, to be held May 13-15, 2013 at the Illinois Conference Center and I Hotel in Champaign, Illinois.

This year’s theme is, Learning Matters and the tracks are:

  • Engaging Learners
  • Effective Practices
  • Emerging Trends

To submit a proposal, please visit  http://go.illinois.edu/fsiproposal

If you are new to this submission system, you will be asked to create an account. If you are returning to the system, you will be able to log into your existing account. Note: This is not based on UIUC accounts at all, everyone will need to create an account, even if you have a NetID.

You may return to this form at any point before March 22, 2013 to modify the information you have entered or to finish an incomplete proposal. All required information must be entered by March 22, 2032 in order for your proposal to be considered complete.

Proposal Submission Deadline: Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 ICDE World Conference

The 25th ICDE World Conference will be hosted by Tianjin Open University, China, on 16-18 October 2013. The abstract submission deadline was extended to April 30, 2013.

 The World Conference attracts delegates from around the globe representing the research community, teaching staff, management of educational institutions, the public sector, and both training companies and suppliers from the private sector.The ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Education is widely recognized as the leading world event in open and distance education and offers a forum for the presentation of cutting edge developments, network building, and professional development.

Over the past 75 years since the establishment of International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), international open and distance education has been making tremendous achievements with the concept of life-long learning, economic globalization, and advancement of educational technology. However, open and distance education is now facing with new opportunities and great challenges.

Open University creating new free course offerings

Open University, in the UK, will begin offering free online courses with a new program called Futurelearn in early 2013.

Futurelearn logo

Eleven UK universities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick have signed up to add courses and content to Futurelearn as well.

This program will create direct competition with the free Coursera and edX teaching and learning platforms from U.S.



Sloan C 2013 Blended Learning Conference

The Sloan Consortium has opened a call for proposals for their 10th annual Sloan-C Blended Learning Conference and Workshop to be held in Milwaukee, July 8 – 9, 2013 .

You can submit a proposal to present at the 10th Annual Sloan Consortium Blended Learning Conference and Workshop on this his year’s conference theme, “Trend to Blend: Lessons from the Field.”

The conference theme on blended learning focuses on exploring research and effective practices across educational institutions.


UNED-ICDE 2013 International Conference call for papers

A call for papers has been announced for the UNED-ICDE 2013 International Conference to be held 7-9 March 2013 in Madrid, Spain. The submission deadline for abstracts is  December 20th.


The overarching theme of the conference is Mobilizing Distance Education for Social Justice and Innovation, and papers submissions which reflect the following sub-themes are invited:

  1. Social system, welfare state and education policies
  2. Social justice and distance education
  3. Changes in Higher Education and successful experiences
  4. Public policies for the promotion of education and social justice
  5. The role of Higher Education institutions and their teachers in an educational model for social justice and innovation


edX expanding

According to the Washington Post, Georgetown University will be joining the edX online learning system and begin offering free online courses alongside Harvard & MIT and a few other schools.

edX is a not-for-profit partnership between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created to design and offer interactive, web-based courses. Launched in May, 2012, it later expanded to include the University of California, Berkeley, the entire University of Texas system and Wellesley College.

Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn online and how technologies implemented in the courses  change the learning environment.

edX online contexts are large scale MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) that are created to serve course populations in the thousands instead of the more tradition 20 or 30 student-per-course groups of traditional classrooms and early online learning environments.