Tutor, edX and blended learning best practices?

Hi All,
I haven’t been using edX and tutor for a year, and it seems the Figures plugin has been added, which may scratch some of my old itches. Will it do the following:
For any specific student in my class, will it tell me how long they spent with a video, and when, and how long they spent with answers and when?
Last year I was burned badly by my students optimization of their grade/time. I needed more analytics to be able to spot problems before they were bad. Let me explain.
I was doing blended learning using edX and tutor. I was producing all the content myself for my Electronics I class. It was a tremendous amount of work in addition to being the sys admin for the tutor platform, my other teaching responsibilities, etc. I bought the line from the edX course I took on doing blended learning that instant feedback was great. My students are all good friends and work together as a team. Unfortunately this worked against us. They would get together in large groups and the best student would begin guessing the answers. They had three shots the way I set it up. The best student would use his first two guesses, and if he didn’t get the answer yet, he would start using everyone else’s, until he got the answer, then all the others would fill in the correct answer, and go on to the next problem. With the old way using written homework with unknown answers, students working together would compare answers after they were done, or ask each other for help, but when one student explained it to the other, he would learn it better, and the other guy who got it wrong, would have to redo his answer, and write out an explanation showing he understood how to get the answer. They both needed to understand the answer and be sure it was right. With edX they didn’t get that. I also had problems, because I didn’t limit the enrollment to just my students, and my students made a bunch of burner accounts that they used on tests that had only one guess per problem. I became suspicious when I made a problem with an incorrect answer, and a whole bunch of students ended up getting it right. I looked at the page telling what problems had been attempted by who and found a bunch of gmail accounts like asdfasdf@gmail.com who did no problems until the exams.
I want to be able to approach a student with how much time he spent watching a video and doing problems, and hold him accountable for both doing his work, and for doing it in a way that seems conducive to learning, and not cheating somehow.
Due to the Corona virus, we are doing online learning spring quarter. I am a little leary to go back to edX, but I know it, and it could be helpful. I am nervous, because students don’t like experiences like they had. They truly do want to learn, and if you provide a way they can sidestep it, you and the platform that allowed it are all partly responsible.
If I use edX again, I will not provide the info about the correct answer until after the assignment is due and graded, or just use old fashioned homework. There may be other things that would help, and I’d like to hear about them.
All suggestions are welcome!

This really isn’t a Tutor problem or best place for this conversation. In a nutshell, you need to move to project-based learning and authentic assessments. Online education shifts the focus from knowledge-based to practical or application-based. The students have all of the information. Google or you give it to them. Your job is to assess if they can do something with that information. You want to know if they have transferred information to something practical, which then is evidence of their learning.

The questions that you described as problematic are incredibly valuable for the students to know if they are learning the material, but not important for you. I give my students a participation grade for completing the quizzes successfully. They can take them as many times as they want. I just count the highest grade. You have to shift your thinking from what they know (or can solve mathematically, such as calculating the feeback from an opamp or working with Kirchhoff’s laws) to what they can do giving that information. You probably have good questions for students to self-assess themselves, but you have the wrong approach to determine if they learned the material.

You can’t prevent cheating online. To minimize the opportunities, you have to create unique projects that they can’t “Google” for the answer. This requires you to rethink your methodological approach.

Give them videos to watch and opportunities for them to gain knowledge in blended learning. Then, turn your class time to interactive work or assessing their knowledge to ensure that they aren’t cheating.

I hope this helps!

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Actually, you should! This approach tells them what they did wrong and how to correctly understand the problem. They need to take control of their learning. This method is one way that you can help direct them. Think of this as their learning, not as your assessment of their learning.

I agree completely! Great answer. This should be pinned somewhere :slight_smile:

Thanks tony-h,

I agree with you that project based learning is better, and that the students have to have a desire to learn rather than a desire to get a grade. Projects are a really good way to assess how well they understand the concepts. I’m beginning to agree with you that stopping online cheating is not really feasible. Somehow you have to create a situation where the motivation is learning.

I’m still wondering if the figures plugin will allow me to find out more about how much time each student is putting into videos and questions, and to see patterns like student X enters an answer, and then a bunch of others also enter it. I’d like to be able to spot problems with the way students are using the material supporting the projects, so I can encourage better study methods. I’m installing it now to test it out, and see what it offers.

You suggestion of allowing infinitely many tries, makes it more likely each student will guess by themselves which may be better than doing it in a group just to get the answer. It also makes burner accounts unnecessary, and I like those features.

Thanks for the ideas and tips. They are helpful.


Hey @frohro! Long time no see :slight_smile:

I like the fact that this kind of conversation is happening here, although is not 100% Tutor-related.

I pretty much agree with what @tony-h said: in my online teaching experience, project-based evaluation was much more relevant than online quizzes. From my French perspective, it’s really weird that the entire US education system is completely and utterly in love with multiple-choice questions, online testing, and its corollary – proctoring. I’ve never understood that. Once you start setting up quizzes with grades, then of course you will have cheaters. And so you are forced into an arms race, with proctoring and such godawful, badly engineered solutions.

I’d much rather ask students for projects: they are harder to evaluate, and in a way this shows the limits of the “M” in MOOC, but they just make more sense from an educational perspective.

I find it helpful to look at what others are doing. The University of Washington CS department publishes a lot of their courses on their website. I’m not sure if that will help you, but you can look at the UW engineering program courses and online learning resource page. The last resource is a comprehensive list of websites about remote teaching resources to help instructors who are forced to teaching online. Search that list for engineering programs similar to yours to gain project ideas or elearning best practices for your subject.