Open Learning Interplay at CMU: Session 1

March 10, 2008

Candace Thille gave an opening about the to the OLI conference – emphasising that it is about the Interplay between the Opening of Learning interpretation of learning sciences with the Open Education world. The focus is on how to bring these together. The aim for the morning seems to include genuine learning rather than just talk.


The first talk is by Mark Kamlet – who confessed to not being a learning scientist but a mathematician. As Provost he had developed links with Hewlett Foundation.

Why do Cognitive Tutors work?

  1. Learning is often sequential and cumulative
  2. Doing is part of learning
  3. Everyone is different

Actually these give insight into ineffectiveness of many approaches – especially the lecture – no chance to pause, very little doing, no chance to personalise.

At this point he mentioned ACTR – not sure what that is.

These ideas though need to be built and tested. He said that investment in the algebra tutor of around $20m. On the other hand the cost is about $500,000 each for Cognitive Tutor lites from OLI. These courses can then pass the achievements of those who built it. Questions remain about cultural transfer – being tried in Arabic and Spanish countries, maybe ok just to translate but actually switch to oral rather than written approach may be key. This needs careful research and evaluation. The usage data needs to feedback into development.


While keen on Cognitive tutor it should not be the only approach.


Just to be online and free is not enough – we need to know how it works


Baumol’s disease: why does cost of education keep going it. Will it go on increasing forever. Baumol’s disease is an economists statement: the cost of something depends on the cost of producing. Productivity keeps increasing in most fields – but not in education! We more or less educate the same way we did 6-700 years ago. So if we match this to most other areas is starts to cost more e.g. wheat production if 1hour of farmer time= 1 bushel 20 years ago and now =3 bushels then the cost of education has to increase by 3 to match if it stands still. (Well now I am Gluten Free who cares about wheat!)


Cognitive tutoring offer a way to reach more people in same time. The arguments for this seem to match to any distance education but I guess the bias to Cognitive tutoring is related to whether there is proven success.


Sustainability: the just make it available may well not work. Not for profit v for profit: actually this is not the same as free v not free (e.g. broadcast TV is “free” higher education is not). Carnegie Learning has been set up on a for profit basis – the main reason for this seems to be the need to reach into schools. Needing sales forces and marketing. There does not seem to be Google-style 3rd stream funding – however at HE level there is a need for Algebra support for e.g. Physics teaching. Offering this into colleges based on retention of students may been it is worth them offering it as free for use. Actually Carnegie Learning is part of CMU so profits would feed in to this. Also he is in favour of open access – citing a move to open access to all academic articles after 12 months. For open education though there are challenges of hitting barriers and the need to have revenue streams for support.



One Response to “Open Learning Interplay at CMU: Session 1”

  1. […] McAndrew heeft in zijn blog een impressie gegeven van de […]

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