Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Education(al technology) Research in PeerJ

PeerJ I'm very surprised to see this paper appear in Peer-J. My previous conversations with Peter Binfield indicated that they would not be publishing "that sort of thing". Has there been a change in editorial policy at PeerJ? If so, Journal of Biological Education is going to have a fight on its hands.

Having said that, this is not a great paper. n=26 so low power and poor statistical analysis (no effect sizes). While it's great to have PeerJ as an outlet for education research, they're not doing themselves any favours by publishing too many low grade observational studies with little predictive value.

Nalliah RP, Allareddy V. (2014) Students distracted by electronic devices perform at the same level as those who are focused on the lecture. PeerJ 2:e572
Background. Little is known about the characteristics of internet distractions that students may engage in during lecture. The objective of this pilot study is to identify some of the internet-based distractions students engage in during in-person lectures. The findings will help identify what activities most commonly cause students to be distracted from the lecture and if these activities impact student learning.
Methods. This study is a quasi-experimental pilot study of 26 students from a single institution. In the current study, one class of third-year students were surveyed after a lecture on special needs dentistry. The survey identified self-reported utilization patterns of “smart” devices during the lecture. Additionally, twelve quiz-type questions were given to assess the students’ recall of important points in the lecture material that had just been covered.
Results. The sample was comprised of 26 students. Of these, 17 were distracted in some form (either checking email, sending email, checking Facebook, or sending texts). The overall mean score on the test was 9.85 (9.53 for distracted students and 10.44 for non-distracted students). There were no significant differences in test scores between distracted and non-distracted students (p = 0.652). Gender and types of distractions were not significantly associated with test scores (p > 0.05). All students believed that they understood all the important points from the lecture.
Conclusions. Every class member felt that they acquired the important learning points during the lecture. Those who were distracted by electronic devices during the lecture performed similarly to those who were not. However, results should be interpreted with caution as this study was a small quasi-experimental design and further research should examine the influence of different types of distraction on different types of learning.

Friday, September 05, 2014

The State Of The Internet 2014

Waxcap If you haven't already read David Kernohan's recent post You’ll Never Hear Surf Music Again, you should. And then spend the rest of this weekend thinking about it.

Since the politicians have ceded responsibility to government to corporations, I'm going to spend the weekend re-reading leviathan and thinking about how to respond.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Vision Of The Future

Gateway To The Future I've had a vision of the future. Which is nice.

The major social networks have jumped the shark. Increasingly, social networks will be Balkanized into smaller interest groups. People won't leave Facebook or Twitter in droves but their attention will switch elsewhere as the zombie juggernauts become increasing desperate to hold our attention. (Facebook Messenger anyone? I thought not.) Photographers will share with other photographers. City networks will become more localized. Learning technologists will speak unto learning technologists.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I've just seen the future of Turnitin

Quantum Computer Quantum Turnitin, automatically detects plagiarism in all languages simultaneously :-)

That'll solve the plagiarism problem.

Won't it?

Based on:
Back translation: an emerging sophisticated cyber strategy to subvert advances in ‘digital age’ plagiarism detection and prevention. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 26 Aug 2014 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.950553
Advances have been made in detecting and deterring the student plagiarism that has accompanied the uptake and development of the internet. Many authors from the late 1990s onwards grappled with plagiarism in the digital age, presenting articles that were provoking and established the foundation for strategies to address cyber plagiarism, including software such as TurnitinTM. In the spirit of its predecessors, this article presents a new, less-detectable method of cyber-facilitated plagiarism known as ‘back translation’, where students are running text through language translation software to disguise the original source. This paper discusses how this plagiarism strategy attempts to subvert academic attempts to detect plagiarism and maintain academic integrity in the digital age, before presenting useful detection tools and then critiquing three classroom plagiarism management approaches for their usefulness in the current digital and educational context.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Educational technology: You will be assimilated

Educational technology usage

What pisses me off about this is the inverse relationship between utility and frequency of use.

“Virtually mandatory”: A survey of how discipline and institutional commitment shape university lecturers’ perceptions of technology. (2014) 45(4)748–759, doi: 10.1111/bjet.12051
Although there have been many claims that technology might enhance university teaching, there are wide variations in how technology is actually used by lecturers. This paper presents a survey of 795 university lecturers’ perceptions of the use of technology in their teaching, showing how their responses were patterned by institutional and subject differences. There were positive attitudes towards technology across institutions and subjects but also large variations between different technologies. Two groups of technology were identified - “core” technologies, such as Powerpoint, that were used frequently, even when lecturers felt that they were not having a positive impact on learning, and “marginal” technologies, such as blogs, that were used much less frequently and only where they fitted the pedagogic approach or context. Rather than there being “leading” universities that were the highest users of all technologies, institutions tended to be heavier users of some technologies than others. Similarly, subjects could be associated with particular technologies rather than being consistent users of technology in general. The study suggests that university technology policy should reflect different disciplines and contexts rather than “one size fits all” directives.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Summer reading Verdict: Hugely disappointing.

There's a great-novel-of-our-time to be written about privacy and online identity. This isn't it. I had great hopes for this book considering the number of rave reviews it has received but I was hugely disappointed by it. The writing, characters and plot are so clunky that I considered not finishing it - something I almost never do. Instead, I read angrily to the end, cursing a missed opportunity, and am now recovering by reading the Jim Crace.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The impact of placements on the academic performance

Year-long placements are good for student academic performance, but more effective for UK students than overseas students.
"The results in this study provide strong evidence to support a significant association between placements, final-year marks and degree classifications among not only UK but also international students...

Unlike international students, UK students are consistently and significantly influenced by prior academic achievement..."

Caveat: This research refers to finance rather then STEM students.

The impact of placements on the academic performance of UK and international students in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 31 Jul 2014. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2014.943658
Motivated by an increasing number of international students in UK higher education, this study investigates the effect of year-long placements on the academic performance of 268 accounting and finance students enrolled between 2006 and 2009. The results show differences between UK and international students although both statistically and significantly increase their final-year marks and their chance to obtain a good degree (first or 2.1) following placements. UK sandwich students outshine international sandwich students in the final year, while UK full-time students significantly underperform international full-time students in the first year only. The academic performance of UK students can be partly explained by prior academic achievement and gender but that of international students is not related to any of these individual factors. There is evidence of self-selection among UK sandwich students since they outperform UK full-time students at all levels, while no such a pattern is found among international students.