Grounded in learning theories, our work examines how technology can be leveraged to support student learning in a variety of authentic learning environments, from elementary classrooms to online corporate training. We also conduct research into how educators learn to integrate technology meaningfully into their practice and ways that teacher educators can support their students’ development of technology integration skills.
Learning Analytics and Adaptive Learning Technologies
Learning analytics is a field of inquiry that leverages data mining and analysis to understand and optimize learning experiences catered to individual students’ needs. Grounded on learning theories, the inquiry processes involve the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners. The research outcomes of learning analytics generate automatized data processing, learner modeling, and personalized feedback mechanisms that enable us to advance adaptive learning technologies.
An exemplar project is SMART (Student Mental Model Analyzer for Research and Teaching). SMART is a free, online formative assessment and feedback platform that helps teachers to adapt problem-centered pedagogies to individual students by informing them of individual students’ learning progressions toward building an appropriate knowledge structure. SMART uses students’ textual explanations (e.g. a short essay) to assess and represent the students’ understandings of a problem situation. SMART can be implemented in various educational areas such as complex problem-solving in STEM, reading comprehension, and writing.
Computer science and digital literacy are rapidly becoming required for personal and professional life. Relatively few people, however, have access to computing education, especially people from groups that are underrepresented in computing including women, people of color, people from low-income families, and people in rural communities.
Our research addresses this problem by exploring ways to improve programming education, especially in online learning environments. We work with many different types of learners, including undergraduates, teachers, and K-12 students, and our collaborations with the Georgia Department of Education and Code.org ensure that this research impacts those who need to learn computing today for a better tomorrow.
Maker-Inspired Teaching and Learning
The maker movement is a growing community of individuals who engage in making, which is the construction, deconstruction, or remixing of physical or digital artifacts. Making typically occurs within a diverse community of people, situated both in local spaces (e.g., makerspaces, libraries, afterschool programs, etc.) and in broader online communities within which makers share both the processes and products of their making. As part of growing efforts to create K-12 learning environments that are more student-centered, contextualized, and authentic, educators and researchers are looking toward the maker movement as a source of inspiration.
Our research explores how learning is impacted when students engage in the active construction of public digital and/or physical artifacts, and what teaching infrastructures are needed to support the development of such learning environments. Specific projects related to this research focus include exploring different models for developing teachers’ capacities to integrate making into their curricula, developing an instrument to measure maker mindsets, and understanding how making can contribute to the development of a sense of empowerment among young makers.
Professional Microcredentials & Digital Badges
The purpose of the Professional Microcredentials & Digital Badges program is to provide opportunities for Learning Services professionals to earn microcredentials to fill critical competency gaps identified by their employers in keys areas of high business value and expected return on investment such as project management, instructional design, eLearning development, and corporate learning analytics. Unique in the approach is to provide evidence of knowledge and skill acquisition through the use of work products and artifacts created by learners that demonstrate accomplishment of the stated learning outcomes.
The evidence produced by learners is evaluated using professional standards of practice from industry standards and academic accrediting institutions. Finally, the learner is awarded a digital badge as an electronic credential from Georgia State University. The digital badge contains the credential information such as the primary skill, individual learning outcomes, assessment standards, and viewable work products attached electronically to the badge that can be uploaded and shared to various professional social networking sites.