Broadband Communities

JUL 2017

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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JULY 2017 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 15 how student and teacher assess progress and identify areas to emphasize going forward. Again, the hardware and software could all be local, but tremendous economies of scale are within reach if the bulk of the content and computation takes place in central servers. Khan Academy, now the official test prep program for the College Board tests that roughly one-third of U.S. high school seniors take, is moving into this area. ough Khan Academy offers ways to run its material on local servers, almost no one accepts that offer because of the technical requirements and storage size of the material. McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Summit Learning and many other vendors also offer digital personalization – all running on the vendor's servers. ONLINE TESTING, DIGITAL TEXTS AND GAMIFICATION Trends I reported on in 2016 that have expanded in the last year include online testing, digital textbooks and gamification. Standardized tests, such as the College Board SAT and others for lower grades, were first offered online several years ago. e trials revealed the need for robust broadband with good technical support. Since then, as more schools have obtained better broadband, the use of online testing systems has grown, although it is not yet universal. Alongside standardized testing has grown the use of online assessments that employ such test-like procedures as multiple-choice questions. ese assessments include smaller standardized versions and personalized assessments called dynamic quizzing. In dynamic quizzing, the material covered in later quizzes varies based on the strengths and weaknesses students showed in earlier ones. Use of such systems has grown dramatically year-to-year. When digital textbooks were first published, they were static electronic copies of paper textbooks. ey quickly became popular because electronic copies were cheaper to update, produce and distribute than paper. Much has changed in the past three years. e major publishers of paper textbooks now talk of digital platforms that include online assessment and digital personalization, and they hint that they soon will include AR and VR for immersive learning. e publishers distribute their texts from centralized servers because the educational institutions were unwilling and unable to expand their equipment and human resources to distribute the materials. e inclusion of game elements into learning environments has also expanded in reach and depth. For example, Kahoot, which offers educational games online, has more than 40 million learner users. One of the book-signing authors featured at SXSWedu was Yu-kai Chou, author of "Actionable Gamification." Again, offline gamification is possible, but teachers and learners tend to take advantage of the games already developed and distributed online. THREE META-TRENDS I observed three initiatives (perhaps better called meta-trends) that confirm the expansion and general acceptance of markets for internet-based educational technologies. e easiest to describe is a new product called CatchOn from a Dallas-based firm of the same name. CatchOn gives school districts the ability to track the use of new digital materials and presumably to analyze use versus costs, learning outcomes and other metrics. e second meta-trend is an attempt to develop standardized criteria for choosing new products and standardized ways of measuring those criteria and reporting the resulting measurements. is initiative, called the Courseware in Context Framework, was developed by Tyton Partners in collaboration with the Online Learning Consortium, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As of March 2017, the framework focuses on digital courseware for higher education. e third is concerned with the interoperability among the digital offerings, especially those that purport to track learners and learner outcomes. e Michael and Susan Dell Family Foundation developed a set of standards for such data, called EdFi (for educational file format). Working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and several educational institutions, the Dell Foundation launched InnovateEDU as a nonprofit to advocate the benefits of interoperability and the adoption of EdFi or its equivalent by buyers and sellers of products that receive or publish educational data. Any of these individual efforts might fail, but they signal the growing maturity of the market for digital educational materials – and therefore the growing maturity of the demand for robust broadband everywhere teaching and learning take place. v Rollie Cole is a senior fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research. You can reach him at rolliecole@gmail. com. Pearson's HoloPatient can be downloaded and placed in any medical teaching environment.

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