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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview with Eric Bockmuller, Tackk Learning: Innovators in E-Learning

Strategies for sharing instructional materials succeed when they work with the behaviors that people already embrace. This can seem like a moving target with social media, but there are ways to stay up to date. Welcome to an interview with the leadership, Eric Bockmuller and Dan Klammer, of Tackk, an innovative provider of ways for educators to share information and instructional materials.

1. What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Our name is Tackk and since our launch in September we've really seen educators embracing Tackk as a tool for the classroom and especially homework. We didn't set out to build Tackk as a learning solution -- just one to help people create and share content in the simplest way possible. The fact that Tackk is becoming so popular among educators, though, confirms  there was a real need for a simple content creation tool for students and teachers.

2. What do you think are the top two or three elements that contribute to effective engagement and learning in an elearning or mlearning environment?
We built Tackk with three core principles in mind:
1. We eliminate friction - No sign-up or login required, no design skills necessary,no community to join
2. We simplify creation - Instant editing and addition of images, video, and form fields
3. We make sharing easy - Share via email, social networks, embed or pasting your URL
In a nutshell, Tackk empowers everyone (not just designers and web developers) to create and share content on the web. This simple approach unlocks creativity and gives voice to more ideas - the cornerstone of any productive learning environment.

3. What is Tackk?
Tackk was co-founded by two designers (Eric Bockmuller and Dan Klammer) who were getting a lot of requests for one-off digital designs from friends whose tech skills maxed out at typing an email. Our idea was to build a simple tool that would let anyone create and share great looking content instantly on the web.
No software or login is required. No design skill needed. No community to join. Just visit the Tackk home page and start typing. When you’re done creating your Tackk, you can immediately share it with friends in your social networks or the internet at large. It’s no more complicated than tacking a flier to the coffee shop bulletin board.

4. Who uses Tackk and why?
One of our goals when we launched Tackk was to prove that a broad spectrum of people would find Tackk valuable across an equally broad range of uses. We were successful on both counts.  We see Tackks ranging from the birth of a new baby http:// to selling cars and boats, to recipe ideas We’ve also seen people from all walks of life creating Tackks. In fact, more than half of our users don’t speak English as their primary language, with 18% of our users coming from Japan.
There is an obvious need in the market for users to generate and share their content on the web with a dead-simple solution. With most tools you're either limited by the number of characters and photos you can add or you have to commit large amounts of time into writing a blog, creating a video or building a website. Tackk eliminates all that and lets you share content on the web without any of those limitations.

5. Could you give a few examples of how / where / when Tackk has been used successfully?


a) Music reports: It looks like one class did reports on a wide range of artists -- from Justin Bieber to Ray Charles to the Rolling Stones -- incorporating images, multimedia and copy.

    b) History/geography reports (some with citations):
        c) Student career goals/plans:
            d) Government assignment... replacing Congress?

            e) One of the first classroom uses of Tackk. Koko the Gorilla reports!

            One of our employees even contributed his own Tackk, which was shared with the class, about his visit to Rwanda: 

            Communication among teachers:

            a) List of resources for ESL teachers:

            b) Event promotion for educators:

            c) Sharing tips, best practices and education thoughts: 

             Communication with students/parents (facilitating class): 
              a) Posting class resources and readings: 

              b) Post assignments and reminders:
              6. what do you think are some of the most exciting trends right now?
              It’s so obvious that it sounds trite, but the Internet has changed so many aspects of how we communicate and share stories. User generated content (or UGC) has become a powerful, democratizing force in how we decide lots of things -- from what products to buy to which leaders to elect. YouTube and Twitter, at their core, are tools for capturing and sharing stories and have empowered millions of people to have a voice in the world. However, many of the tools available to normal people are still more complicated than they have to be or don’t allow for robust storytelling. New tools like Tackk are emerging to make it easier for anyone to tell rich, engaging stories. 


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              Susan Smith Nash
              Susan Smith Nash

              Monday, February 11, 2013

              Interview with Brad Parkins, McGraw-Hill: Innovators in E-Learning Series

              Adaptive learning is expanding and being incorporated in a constantly increasing number of higher education applications. Welcome to an interview with Brad Parkins, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, where McGraw-Hill LearnSmart s a new offering designed for a personal experience. 

              What is your name and relation to elearning?
              I’m Brad Parkins, director of digital product marketing at McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

              How would you define adaptive learning, given today's use of technology?
              Adaptive learning is a method of education that seeks to personalize learning by using sophisticated technology to continually assess students’ knowledge, skill and confidence levels and design study paths that are specifically targeted to help each student improve in the areas where they need to the most.

              Adaptive learning systems don’t just pay attention to whether or not you answered a question correctly or incorrectly. McGraw-Hill LearnSmart, for example, also weighs factors like how long it took you to answer the question, which incorrect answer you chose (if indeed you answered incorrectly), and your level of confidence in answering the question. That last part is key—for students to improve in areas where they have weaknesses, they have to know where those areas are. Students often get into trouble when they think that they know something but actually don’t.  [it’s the system that based on a number of factors it identifies what they know and they don’t know]

              What are the benefits of adaptive learning?
              By allowing students to focus their study time on the topics and concepts that are most challenging to them, adaptive learning has been shown to help students study more efficiently, develop greater proficiency and—most importantly— earn better grades. That’s part of the magic of adaptive learning.

              Adaptive learning also benefits instructors: By better preparing students for class, adaptive learning enables instructors to spend more time delving into advanced concepts and engaging students in high-level discussion.

              How do you use adaptive learning? Which are the primary fields of study that you believe are most amenable to adaptive learning?
              In an adaptive learning environment, students use their outside-of-class study time to review course materials and answer questions that assess their knowledge and skill levels. Students can work in adaptive learning systems on their desktop or laptop or on their mobile device. We’ve designed the adaptive products in our LearnSmart Advantage suite so that students can use them on their phones or tablets even while offline and have their progress be automatically uploaded into the system the next time they come online.

              Beginning this spring, we’re offering our adaptive learning products in more than 90 course areas, from American government to organic chemistry to Spanish. I really think that adaptive learning works in just about every area of study.

              How do you motivate learners who may feel anxiety about being assessed online? Can adaptive learning help?
              That’s a good question. In the vast majority of cases, schools or instructors decide to use adaptive learning systems in their course as a way of providing students with a more intelligent, more efficient way of preparing themselves, both for in-class discussions and more formal assessments. With all of the products in our LearnSmart Advantage suite, we’ve tried to take the stress out of assessment.

              What makes some adaptive learning solutions better than others?
              A few things come to mind, but probably the biggest differentiator is the amount of student data that’s been entered into the system. As students answer more questions within an adaptive learning system, the system becomes more familiar with student learning patterns and becomes better able to assess each student’s knowledge and skills to provide personalized study recommendations. In 2012, we reached two important milestones with LearnSmart: 1 million student users and 1 billion questions answered. We’re not excited about these numbers just because they’re big—we’re excited about them because they really speak to our ability to adapt to students’ individual learning needs and improve student performance.

              What are the next steps for adaptive learning?
              2012 was the breakout year for adaptive learning, but in 2013, I think we're going to see personalized learning through adaptive technology truly come into its own. By the end of the year, we’re expecting to see adaptive learning systems will be in use at every higher education institution across the country.

              Where will adaptive learning go next? Already we’re seeing it move beyond the realm of course study tools into new areas of the student learning experience. Adaptive e-books, adaptive virtual labs – these are things that we’ve been waiting on for a long time, and they’re finally here. Personally, I can’t wait to see how tools like these start to improve the performance of students around the world. I truly believe we’re onto something big here.


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              Susan Smith Nash
              Susan Smith Nash

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