The above video represents the most recent iteration of my dissertation work; a design-based research project that investigates how learning analytics tools and approaches, applied within the context of a technology-enhanced, blended learning environment, can support a Knowledge Community and Inquiry (KCI) approach to secondary science.  In the video I present the design of CKBiology; a software environment and corresponding curriculum that have been specifically designed to support a KCI approach within two sections of a Grade 12 Biology course.   Continue reading “CKBiology”


“Give a colony of garden ants a week and a pile of dirt, and they’ll transform it into an underground edifice about the height of a skyscraper in an ant-scaled city. Without a blueprint or a leader, thousands of insects moving specks of dirt create a complex, sponge-like structure with parallel levels connected by a network of tunnels. Some ant species even build living structures out of their bodies… It turns out that ants perform these complex tasks by obeying a few simple rules… The organization of insect societies is a marquee example of a complex decentralized system that arises from the [local] interactions of many individuals” (Singer, 2014).

Continue reading “Eusociality”

Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Gephi

Gephi is an open-source software application used for visualizing and analysing (large) network graphs.  Figure 1 shows the types of data formats that can be imported into Gephi.  The GEXF format (Graph Exchange XML Format) was created by members of the Gephi project and offers the most functionality; it is one of the two formats (other than spreadsheet) that can display/save/export dynamic data (i.e. data that changes longitudinally over time). Continue reading “Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Gephi”

Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Data Science Studio (DSS)

For the purposes of this exploration, I am using a 14-day free trial version of the cloud version of DSS, which includes several tutorials for new users.

DSS enables users to import data from a variety of sources (see Figure 1), however the dataset must be in tabular format – i.e. an SQL Database is not considered a dataset, but a SQL Table is.  There are settings that can be set in DSS so that whenever the original data changes, the corresponding dataset in the Studio is automatically updated. Continue reading “Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Data Science Studio (DSS)”

Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Tableau

My exploration of Tableau began with a series of on-demand video tutorials available to registered users on the Tableau website.  I started by downloading their sample data set and following along with the training videos.

Right from the beginning, I was quite impressed with the fairly intuitive user interface of this piece of software, which supports the creation of a wide variety of data visualizations without any knowledge or experience in coding or programming.   Continue reading “Exploring Learning Analytics Software: Tableau”

Exploring Learning Analytics Software: LightSide

The following series of posts reflects my experiences as a first-time explorer of various pieces of learning analytics and data mining software applications.  The purpose of these explorations is for me to gain a better understanding of the current palette of tools and visualizations that may possibly support my own research in learning analytics within the context of a face-to-face/blended collaborative learning environment in secondary science.

LightSide is an open-source text-mining and machine learning platform, created by the Language Technology Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.  This software streamlines the process of extracting the basic features of a text (e.g. term vectors) using a point-and-click interface, making surface features and some simple natural language processing tools available to users without any programming knowledge/effort. Continue reading “Exploring Learning Analytics Software: LightSide”

Origins of Assessment – Part 4: Epilogue

The structure of the global economy today is quite different compared to the way it was in the industrial era. Instead of having an economic system rooted in the manufacture and delivery of physical goods, the economy of leading nations today shows greater dependence on the manufacture and delivery of information products and services. The prosperity of the global economy has become contingent upon the capacity of its citizens to innovate and create new knowledge (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006).

There is a recognized need for new forms of learning and instruction to help prepare students for a 21st century “knowledge economy.” Internet and “Web 2.0” technologies facilitate peer collaboration, knowledge mobilization, and the aggregation of ideas, rendering industrial-aged, top-down, “one-size-fits-all” models of schooling outmoded and counterproductive (Tapscott & Williams, 2012). Continue reading “Origins of Assessment – Part 4: Epilogue”

Origins of Assessment – Part 3: The Myth of the Metals

The Context of Schooling: 1905-1950

As compulsory school attendance was more rigorously enforced towards the end of the nineteenth century, this led to a much more socially and culturally diverse student population in schools. Educators and school boards continued to use written tests to evaluate pupils and schools, but while testing was seen as useful for identifying which students were succeeding or failing, many acknowledged its shortcomings in explaining why different students performed well or poorly. Educators and policy-makers acknowledged that characteristics such as intelligence, ambition, socio-economic status, race, and ethnicity influenced students’ academic performance, however they lacked the statistical knowledge to weigh the relative impacts of each of these variables. Continue reading “Origins of Assessment – Part 3: The Myth of the Metals”