Monthly Archives: October 2020

Moodle: Personalized Learning Designer (PLD)

Pop-quiz! Answer the following:

Are you trying to keep up with student reports so that you can message at risk or failing students and encourage them to attend office hours or seek tutoring?

Are you watching your participants list to find and reach out to students who have not logged into the course or participated recently?

Are you trying to make sure students with an excelling grade have additional opportunities to further challenge them?

Are you wanting to find a way to get back a few hours of your life each week and let the PLD do some work to help you?

Open LMS - Personalized Learning Designer
The PLD can provide differentiated instruction that is more personalized to the student.

Many of the essential steps in helping your students succeed take a lot of TIME!  The Personalized Learning Designer (PLD) will help you by completing these tasks for you, thus giving you back this time to focus on your teaching!

Give some of these rules from our PLD Cheat sheet a go:

A student has not logged into the course in the previous x days.Event: Recurring Event (daily)
Conditions: User role check (student) & Course login (has NOT logged into course, x)
Actions:  Send email
Quiz or assignment not submitted (*note this rule uses course completion settings)Event: Quiz or assignment submitted 
Conditions: Activity completed
Actions: Send email
Students with 69% and below after midterm EMAILEvent: Specific date and time
Conditions: Course grade range
Actions:  Send email
Send students to the syllabus when the FIRST enter the courseEvent: Course start date
Conditions: Course login (NOT logged in / 30 days)
Actions: Go to activity
The PLD can be found within your Course Administration menu.

Want to learn more or see it in action? Come to our PLD Workshop on 10/29 at 11am.

Upon completion of this workshop, you’ll be able to:

  • Design automated interactions with students and personalize their learning.
  • Create rules using the Personalized Learning Designer to assist with course management strategies.

Do you have PLD rules that you found helpful? Tell us about them in the comments!

Test Proctoring and Fall 2020

We’re looking at another term — and maybe more — of learning and assessment that happens predominantly through online means. This can make instructors nervous about maintaining academic integrity for their assignments and exam materials in particular. It also poses some thorny ethical questions for those presenting and grading tests, which I think we need to take a few minutes to unpack. I’ll provide my own views here, and I’d welcome further discussion!

The Risks…

Test proctoring through remote technology is imperfect at best and can be threatening in some forms: It requires surveillance of students in their homes. Many of the technological solutions to replacing traditional in-person test taking come with a host of privacy and access issues. For example, some proctoring services require eye-motion tracking; others require students to show their entire room to the camera; still others will invalidate tests for any interruption, leaving students with little recourse over infractions as minor as resting their chin on their hand or reaching out to move an interrupting pet from the desk.

If you’re working from home right now, you can imagine what might be shown — or what might interrupt — you at any moment. Now, put yourself in the position of a student being asked to take a high-stakes examination, while also concerned that a child or roommate might come in at the wrong moment.

In addition, using proctored testing services for students can set up an atmosphere of distrust from the start. I’ll admit, when first reading this critique a few years ago, I felt automatically defensive about the accusation that my use of anti-cheating technology was inherently discriminatory. In the intervening years, watching not only the discussion among faculty about these practices but also hearing from my own students, I’ve come around to the ideas that Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris, heads of the Digital Pedagogy Lab, support and espouse.

…Outweigh “The Rewards”

There’s not much evidence that online proctoring services or technology have any impact on improving student learning or preventing cheating. In fact, they may do the opposite, while having a negative impact on student success. Josh Eyler, director of faculty development at the University of Mississippi, summed this up nicely in a blog post today. Here’s a key excerpt:

There will always be those who have planted their flags of resistance firmly on the hills of rigor and standards. These are not bad things in an of themselves–I believe in having standards for our students and helping them to meet those standards–but when they conflict with students’ ability to do their best work or even serve as an obstacle to students’ emotional wellbeing, then we need to look closely at why the commitment to rigor and standards is so rigid… Those who are not persuaded by the ethical and empathetic position should know that proctoring software fails miserably when checked against the science of learning too.

Josh Eyler, “The Science of Learning vs. Proctoring Software.”

Little research exists into whether online proctoring has an impact on student test-taking behaviors. Are students less likely to cheat when being monitored? Maybe. Are students who would have done well (and never considered cheating) more likely to struggle because they are being monitored? That result seems clear.

What’s the alternative?

Put succinctly, the alternative is to trust that students are enrolled in courses because they want to learn, and then to provide them with the best opportunities to demonstrate what they’ve learned (and support to make sure they’ve learned it) throughout the course.

Project-based learning presents likely the best alternative to high-stakes testing in general. In courses where this seems impossible, restructuring exams to make sure that they assess the skills necessary in the course — not memorization of facts but the ability to demonstrate learning — can still be done through standard quiz methods. Lowering the stakes for some tests by offering multiple attempts and promoting recursive learning is another strategy that has promise.

Most importantly, talk to your students about whatever path you want to take. Showing that you value their learning and trust their integrity will go a long way toward building a learning community and a culture of honesty. Students are talking about these practices among themselves, and the reviews for this type of monitoring are overwhelmingly negative — and often very public. Students are experts in their own situations, and involving them in the decision of how to assess and monitor learning can be a rewarding experience for everyone!

Further Reading:

Coffee Check-ins: Fridays this Fall, 10-11

photo of a coffee cup with meme text: "Hello dark roast my old friend."

Pull up a virtual chair and a real coffee (or drink of your choice) every Friday this fall for a check-in and chat hosted by your Instructional Design Services colleagues. There’s no formal agenda! Just drop in to talk through what’s on your plate and your mind. We’ll have a chance to check-in if there’s a goal you’d like to accomplish: sometimes saying it out loud can help, and maybe so can the colleagues around you.

Just want to converse? Missing the hallway/watercooler/coffee shop line? We have space for that, too.

Add this meeting to your calendar for a reminder every Friday (including Zoom link), and we’ll see you there!