Beating the Heat

Summer is not the best time of the year to visit the Phoenix area, but this month we had another two speakers in our colloquium series brave the 110+ temperatures to visit us.

Dr. Sae Schatz is the Director of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which is an organization that is seeking to redefine the future of education and training in the military.  The military like many other organizations is facing a situation where operational environments are more complex, fluid, and technology rich; while at the same time staffing levels and available training time is being reduced.  It must come up with more innovative and technology-based ways to support education and training.

Established in 1999, the ADL was in its early days occupied in developing SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), which is a technology that allows the interchange of learning content between different technologies.  It thereby enables content reuse and lego block like building of new online courses.  It has since branched out into many areas of research and development (see  ADL research) and Dr Schatz’s talk entitled “A Vision for Future Learning Technology and Science” provided a good overview of both the ADL’s current work and future plans.

Dr. Neil Heffernen  from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute braved a record setting heat to present a talk entitled “Research Findings from ASSISTments: A Collaboration of Multiple Universities to make Learning Research Easier”.

ASSISTments  is both a means of providing online tutoring to students that gives immediate feedback on homework assignments and a means to collect and analyze data on what tutoring strategies are working.  It has proven effectiveness and is now a platform on which other scientists can access data for research purposes.  It enables randomized assignment to new tutoring interventions in order to scientifically test their effect on learning.

This New York Times magazine article provides an overview and history of ASSISTments.