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Eye See You

What’s the best way to use cues to foster and optimize video-based learning? That’s one question posed by a team of researchers who used eye-tracking technology to determine how students looked at the video cues and for how long. Their findings suggest that, of the four conditions presented (no cues, text cues, visual cues, and text-and-visual cues), two were more effective at improving learning: visual cues (e.g. dynamic lines, highlighted on-screen coloring for the purpose of guiding attention) and text-and-visual cues (which combined visual cues with written words).

Key Finding: This study suggests “that the visual cues and the combined text-and-visual cues could promote the cognitive processes of selecting, organizing, and integrating information, and they were both effective design methods to aid video-based learning” (p. 10).

Practical Implication: If you’re hesitating to add some (intentional) flair to your videos, you could be missing out on a key way to help learners understand important points and takeaways. Visual cues and text-and-visual cues work better at improving learning than no cues and text cues.

Read More (paywall): Wang, X., Lin, L., Han, M., & Spector, M.J. (2020). Impacts of cues on learning: Using eye-tracking technologies to examine the functions and designs of added cues in short instructional videos. Computers in Human Behavior, 107.

Let’s Be Social

Social presence in online learning has been consistently linked to a number of positive outcomes for learners, including greater satisfaction and an increase in perceived learning; when provided with opportunities to connect and interact in an online course, “users are more likely to feel a greater sense of belongingness and ultimately perceive higher levels of presence within the online classroom” (Andel et al., p. 2). In a study that examined whether asynchronous video commenting features can increase learner connections, researchers found that these comments increased social presence perceptions among users.

My question: Do a greater sense of belonging in online courses and a “perception” of learning lead to… actual learning? I find that I’m left with more questions than answers after reading this article. Stay tuned -- we'll dig into this topic soon.

Read More (paywall): Andel, S.A., de Vreede, T., Spector, V.E., Padmanabhan, B., Singh, V.K., & deVreede, G.J. (2020). Do social features help in video-centric online learning platforms? A social presence perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 113.‍

Got Your Money: $2M Available

The Schmidt Futures Forum and Citadel have teamed up to launch a $2M competition to develop new ed tech tools to help students whose schooling has been disrupted by COVID-19. The Futures Forum on Learning Tools Competition invites educators, emerging talent, researchers, innovators, and digital learning platforms to submit solutions to this global problem and advance the field of learning engineering. Funding levels range from $25,000 to up to $250,000, with a total purse of $2M available. Finalists and winners will be connected to researchers, edtech leaders, and philanthropic organizations, and they will be given feedback throughout the process to help them refine their solutions and build a team. Concept memos from entrants are due Sept. 18. Winners will be selected in early December.

Joseph Reilly completed his Ph.D. in Education in May 2020 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at HGSE. Joseph’s main interest is facilitating collaborative learning in technology-enabled science education. By leveraging machine learning techniques from computer science and best practices from educational psychology, novel ways to assess and help learners can drive good instruction in real-world learning environments from traditional classrooms to online learning.