Over the last two months we have had three excellent speakers visit our institute.

Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Coordinator, Instructional Development and Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas gave a presentation titled: Recent Findings: Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.  The concept of transparency involves testing the language used in course assignments to ensure student understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways. This is not always as explicit as instructors think.  Dr Winkelmes reported on studies of courses that demonstrated better transparency produces learning benefits, particularly for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented college students. This relatively easy intervention has the potential to increase underserved students’ success, especially in their first years of college.

Dr. Adam Gamoran, Ph.D. President, William T. Grant Foundation gave a presentation titled: The Future of Educational Inequality: What Went Wrong and How Can We Fix It? Dr Gamoran outlined an unfortunate trend. At the turn of the millennium racial inequality was being reduced though economic inequality was holding steady. Since then the trend in racial inequality has slowed and the trend in economic inequality has not improved. The William T. Grant foundation has a clear and concise mission statement: “Supporting research to improve the lives of young people”. Whatever the causes, many agree that education is a key part of the solution. And I was glad to learn that ASU has more researchers working with the foundation on educational research than any other university.

Dr. Mark Brown, Director, National Institute for Digital Learning, Dublin City University (DCU) gave a presentation titled:  The Digital Learning Revolution: Exploring the Gap between Rhetoric and Reality. DCU has a transatlantic partnership with ASU. The slides for this are available on slideshare. In this talk Dr Brown touched on an issue I have previously covered in this Blog, which is that technology is often over hyped in education. This was balanced by an outline of the problems, opportunities and value of higher education, which technology (in association with new learning strategies and research) can potentially help with.

In addition to the talks, all of the speakers spent time meeting with people at ASU and from this we anticipate new research collaborations emerging.

We have one more speaker coming in June – Dr Sae Schatz the director of the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative. The ADL basically supports and coordinates R&D that will help redefine the future of training in the military.

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