DML Competition entries

I realized we were at risk of losing our DML Competition entries as their process progresses. The competition is interesting in that it runs in rounds and accepts crowd-source as well as expert feedback in the process. In January we submitted an initial proposal (below). Then used the opportunity of making a revision to mock-up the tool, and at the same time, to focus our thinking on how to improve our submission.

Here is the February 2010 version (below the earlier one):

Brief Project Description (50 word max):

Getting critical feedback is a collaborative social learning strategy that helps learners improve and is educative for givers too. Feedback shared in communities can be educative for bystanders. Feedback compliments other habits of mind like critical thinking. Learners embed Back@U into their work to gather feedback from their community.

Project Description (300 word max):

The whole web is a learning space. Back@U is an instrument embedded on any webpage for gathering critical feedback. Back@U learners solve diverse, multi-faceted problems requiring a collaboration among different disciplines and skills within communities invested in those problems.

Learners and peers provide rich and informative feedback leading to improvement. Back@U could help an NGO get feedback on the design of an irrigation system, while allowing the participating engineering intern to get feedback from all participants: the NGO, local residents, faculty advisors, peers, professional engineers, etc.

People freely engage in learning required to master games: attempting, getting feedback, trying new approaches. To reach a genuine achievement, learners need lots of trials, errors, and adjustments based on feedback (http://www.edutopia.org/healthier-testing-made-easy). These are the same skills life-long-learners use; they approach learning as a challenge, a game.

Back@U is a collaborative and social mechanism allowing learners to gather feedback about their work from multiple sources. It can be tailored by learning communities to address habits of mind from critical thinking to creativity, persistence, curiosity, storytelling, tinkering, improvisation.

Back@U’s structures feedback that help new learners get/contribute high quality peer-reviews in global “pro-am” communities. Giving quality feedback is a mechanism to ascend to leadership positions in complicated multiplayer teams.

Learners post their work anywhere and embed Back@U, where “judges” give feedback, similar to the iPhone app, Leaf Trombone World Stage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5OVX6EKWg). Judges enter the community by having their work judged. Judges improve in expertise using a mechanism similar to the ESP Game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESP_game) where agreement earns status. Back@U players agree on terms and phrases to describe the work using language their learning community values. Back@U also provides a mechanism for the community to refine the review criteria.

Back@U takes our Harvesting Gradebook ideas (http://wsuctlt.wordpress.com/harvesting_gradebook) to the wider world.

Back@U will collaborate with other teams who provide rich test-beds.

Original version from January 2010:

Back@U: Giving and Getting Structured Feedback; Growing in a Learning Community

Brief Project Description (50 word max):

Getting feedback guides learners to improve their work.  Giving feedback is educative for the givers also. And when feedback is given in learning communities, it can be educative for bystanders. Back@U can be used to build learning communities by letting users embed feedback mechanisms next to their work.

Project Description (300 word max):

Back@U turns Learning Labs inside-out; WWW is the lab, Back@U is an instrument. Its a mechanism that allows learners to gather feedback about their work from multiple sources. John Seely Brown illustrates Lave & Wegner’s concept of “legitimate peripheral participation” among copier repairmen to show how story telling in communities of practice creates effective training, even for novices.

Back@U’s feedback is more structured; learners post on the WWW and embed Back@U, where “judges” give feedback, similar to the iPhone app, Leaf Trombone World Stage.  Judges enter the community by having their work judged.  Judges improve in expertise using a mechanism similar to the ESP Game (Games With a Purpose) where agreement on tags earns points.  Rather than metadata tags, Back@U players agree on descriptive terms and phrases to describe the work using language the learning community values.  Back@U also provides a mechanism for community refinement of the criteria.

People freely engage in learning required to master games: attempting, getting feedback, trying new approaches. To reach a genuine achievement, learners need lots of trials, errors, and adjustments based on feedback. These are the same skills life-long-learners use; they approach learning as a challenge, a game.

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More Back@U mockups and an example application

We just discovered that Jason B. Jones has a proof of concept mashup of a Google form with Diigo using a Firefox extension to put both on a split screen. The emphasis seems to be more on grading, but it has a nice place to give suggestions for future work. We had previously tried making a mashup with Google, Jones’ Firefox extension looks more promising. I think I like the Google Sidewiki approach (middle of this page) best among all of these, because it can pull out in a drawer and get out of the way again.

While its easy (in our University setting) to think about these ideas in terms of grading (which is certainly where we started), our DML entry is trying to push to a wider learning community perspective.

Example: Learner with a problem

In the video William Kamkwamba sets out a problem statement, including his context, which many of us might find challenging. Imagine if William could have posted his problem and invited help at a site (perhaps facilitated by an NGO or WSU’s Ripple Effect) where others could have given feedback on the problem statement. Further, imagine that the site had ways of collecting proposed solutions and gathering feedback from William and others in the a audience on the quality and utility of the solutions. The criteria in the rubric might have included ideas like critical thinking, but also habits of mind at the heart of innovation and achievement – creativity, persistence, imagination, curiosity, storytelling, tinkering, improvisation, passion, and risk-taking.

William, and his collaborators could have learned about the problem and its solution. Bystanders could have learned also, either about the ingenious solution, or about William’s approach to problem solving.

DML Competition Partnering Possiblilties

The MacAurther Funded, HASTAC managed DML competition has entered its next round. We found several potential partners in the January round, and there are other potentials among the first round entrants, and perhaps some new potential partners in the round two entrants. To help would-be partners visualize how our project might interact with theirs, we created this example. We’ve since been turned on to a couple other models, which are noted here.

Toward the end of last week we cooked up a scheme to partner with three projects that have the potential to serve as test-beds for our Back@U concept that works like this. We well request some additional funds to support the additional costs of our partners to serve as test contexts.

We are inviting would be partners to contact us (Nils Peterson) and discuss ideas offline and then post a comment in our DML entry about your interest in partnering and what your test-bed offers. Let us know you did so we can post in your entry as well. When the public comment closes at DML we can keep the public talk going as comments to this post.

As of now, it seems it would be useful to us  to know:

  • nature of platform (website, blog, wiki, course management system, etc) to think how our tool can interface
  • nature of your participants (numbers, age group)
  • availability and nature of mentors to provide feedback

The judges, following from your comment on our page  to your entry will probably want to know:

  • your project name
  • the URL of your page in DML

Back@U DML Competition Mockup

The Digital Media and Learning Competition has reached the stage for authors to revise. I’ve been seeking out projects that fit with our thoughts for Reimagining Learning and saving them here. Now we have a couple interesting comments left by other entrants.

The question in my mind is how to better show what we are proposing to those commentators and perhaps use the demo to self-reflect and make our entry better.

First Attempt – Diigo

Following a brainstorming session with Theron, I created a Diigo.com group “DML Competition”  so that I could begin exploring how to give Back@U type feedback (or at least an approximation of it) to myself and other DML competitors, using the criteria of the competition itself. I wanted to do my exploration in a public way that could become understood by the judges and the audience as well.

I found four criteria in the DML call for submissions and highlighted them in 4 colors with Diigo’s tools. After you install Diigo, check out the Digital Media and Learning/reimagining_learning.php entry in the DML Competition or see screenshot below.

click to enlarge

Based on what I found in their call for proposals, here are four suggested categories for structuring feedback:

Yellow=Rich problems. Diverse, multi-faceted problems. New and emerging problems requiring a collaboration among different disciplines and skills to address.

Blue=habits of mind, including critical thinking, but extending to dispositions leading to innovation: creativity, persistance, curiosity, storytelling, tinkering, improvision, collaboration

Green=Social and collaborative learning; new learning resources, approaches and skills that augment traditional ones

Pink=Learning setting/activity: tangible, creative activities, that are open and discovery-based, involve tinkering and play and are not highly prescriptive.

Next I went to our Back@U entry and attempted to place the 4 colored highlights and some comment about how the criteria is met into our entry. This exercise was very instructive for thinking about our revisions…

click to enlarge

Why do this in Diigo rather than as comments?

1) I’ve found that comments in the DML system have a limited length.
2) The color highlight allows me to point at the relevant place for my comment.

Invitation
Get a Diigo account. Join DML Competition. Use the colors codes above and begin highlighting and commenting.

Steve Spaeth has jumped on the Diigo idea and is trying it in a project he has going.

Second Attempt – Google Sidewiki

My second attempt was with Google’s Sidewiki. Its an IE and FF plugin. Go to Google to get it. Sidewiki allows comments by multiple authors for the whole page and/or for selections on the page. Sidewiki does not support color coding.

click to enlarge

What’s still missing?

Each of these tools captures some of our thinking, and perhaps enough to help us provide critiques for improvement.

Community agreed dimensions. I started by pointing to (conjectured) dimensions for assessing this work. The tools (Diigo ans Sidewiki) don’t support the posting of the dimensions.

Rating scale. While the tools let us point at parts of a text, we can’t use rubric criteria in the tool to provide a measure.

User control. It would be nice for the author to be able to embed a rating widget, preset with the dimensions and rating scale and invite feedback in more explicit ways.

Here is a hypothetical screen shot with widget embedded.