2018. no4

Following the International conference «eLearning Stakeholders and Researchers Summit 2017» (eSTARS)


Professor William Kuskin — Professor of English, Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives University of Colorado Boulder. E-mail: William.Kuskin@Colorado.edu

Innovation and disruption in the digital age


Sherman Young — BSc, MA, PhD, Professor, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University. E-mail: sherman.young@mq.edu.au

MOOCs have been heralded by some as disruptive of the higher education sector, but the reality is that they are examples of business rather than educational innovation. By enabling universities to focus on global scale and reach as they navigate the digital environment, current MOOCs largely sustain existing learning practices rather than force pedagogical reconfiguration. Implementations to date have largely focussed on content delivery from superstar professors with little emphasis on the real needs of twenty-first century learners. We have reached a stage when all of our educational approaches need to be better suited for a new information ecology that has demonstrably different characteristics from the past. Information scarcity has given way to ubiquity and learners need the appropriate skills to thrive in a digital life and career—creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Whilst real innovation to address these challenges is already happening in both fully online and blended offerings at some institutions, they are not so common in the MOOC space. This paper argues that MOOCs offer an opportunity to truly disrupt learning at scale and become exemplars for real educational innovation.


Larry DeBrock — Ph.D., M.A., Economics, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. E-mail: ldebrock@illinois.edu

The iMBA, which is delivered 100% online, was launched by Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016. By fall of 2018, the program will enroll more than 1,700 students from 70 countries. With its US$22,000 tuition, about 1/3 the price of programs of similar caliber, the iMBA is reaching under-served populations, including those unable to pay premium prices or make time for in-person residency as well as late-career learners who are disinclined to attend a conventional program. One of the iMBA’s major breakthroughs is its scalability, and that scalability has been accomplished in ways that enhance the quality of education. An iMBA course has two main components – an open MOOC, which delivers core concepts equivalent to what might be covered in a conventional in-person lecture, plus a live global classroom led by a professor and supported by a team of course assistants. As the MOOC delivers the fundamentals of a topic, the live-engagement class focuses on a richer exploration of the material. In the live-engagement classes, hundreds of students can participate simultaneously—yet receive significant individual attention and personalization by interacting with professors and course assistants in real time through chat technology. Students also interact with each other, which often results in side topics being explored, thus producing a richer environment for knowledge discovery than would be possible in a traditional lecture hall in which side conversations are discouraged. Course assistants answer basic questions, and elevate particularly important insights or questions to the professor at the head of the full class, also in real time. Another distinctive feature of the iMBA is that it is delivered in “stackable” components: A MOOC plus live-engagement element stacks into a for-credit course. A series of for-credit courses stack plus a capstone project stacks into a “Specialization.” In turn, a series of Specializations stack into the full MBA degree. In this way, students have various on-ramps to the full degree. The iMBA has to a significant degree cured the cost disease in higher education. Faculty create content for multiple uses – for the full MBA as well as for certificate programs, for example—producing multiple revenue streams. Plus classes can be large owing to the novel teaching-team structure, enabling one senior faculty member to potentially teach thousands.


Quentin McAndrew — PhD, Special Assistant Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, University of Colorado Boulder. E-mail: Quentin.McAndrew@colorado.edu

This paper tells the story of the first MOOC-based Electrical Engineering graduate degree in the world. In so doing, it provides an object lesson about the narrative of disruption that has grown up around MOOC providers and the speed at which self-limiting systems emerge in even the newest ventures. This in turn reveals a paradox brewing at the heart of the MOOC enterprise: it is the supposedly staid institution of the university—whose entrenched systems tend to recoil from innovation back to the status quo—that actually wields the critical mass to effect change. This observation recalls us to a fundamental truth: while universities are conservators of academic tradition and systemic efficiency, they are also, most essentially, extraordinary engines of creation and innovative will. It is by tapping into that truth that we harness the potential for transformation. Ultimately, this paper offers a message of hope and a pathway to change at a moment when the institution of higher education is under threat. The experience of the MOOC Electrical Engineering degree suggests three primary lessons about our ability to answer that challenge: First, if we mean to achieve broad change, we must commit to the hard work of creating that change from within. Second, a bottom-up effort led by a small team with top-down support generates momentum to overcome entrenched systems that inherently resist difference. Third, and most importantly, the impetus for innovation has always resided with the university. In recognizing the systems that work to collapse innovation into convention, this paper acknowledges the difficulties that beset any groundbreaking venture; it also argues for universities’ pride of place as engines of transformation that can lead the way to the future.

Studies of e-learning


Maria Janelli — Senior Manager of Online Teacher Education Programs at the American Museum of Natural History; Ph. D. Fellow at the City University of New York. E-mail: mjanelli@amnh.org

The article begins by defining e-learning as the use of technology for teaching and learning.  Noting that there is no unified theory of e-learning, this article reviews the major theoretical frameworks to date—behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, digital media theory, and active learning theory—to suggest a common sphere of interests and a common vocabulary that differentiates it from traditional modes of learning.  The article then turns to a practical case study of e-learning, a MOOC on the Coursera platform created by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The case study demonstrates both how learning theory afford a template to guide MOOC creation, and how testing can reach beyond content assessment mastery to offer a laboratory for e-learning study.


Daria Kravchenko — Analyst, Centre for Psychometrics in eLearning, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: dakravchenko@hse.ru

The article presents the results of research on validity of peer-review assignments in massive open online courses within the framework of classical test theory (CTT) and item response theory (IRT). CTT-based analysis yielded data on convergent validity of the peer-review assignment, the low level of its criterion validity, and rater disagreement. IRT-based analysis revealed rater bias and established that experts largely tend to be lenient and overrate their peers. The findings are used to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the psychometric theories in question and the opportunities for combining the two.


Deborah Keyek-Franssen — Ph.D., Germanic Languages and Literatures, Associate Vice President for Digital Education and Engagement, University of Colorado System. E-mail: deblkf@cu.edu

U.S. higher education is experiencing a time of shifting landscapes, of new technologies, and of unfamiliar competitors. These and other factors, including decreasing public support for colleges and universities, mean that student success is increasingly paramount as a strategic goal for postsecondary institutions. While institutional-level activities such as increased funding for and emphasis on student advising and predictive analytics are crucial, they are insufficient for postsecondary institutions to realize broad and consistent student success. Instead, institutions can look to practices at the curriculum and course level to further student success. This article examines those learning design and teaching practices that constitute the overlap between a) higher education research and trends and b) the lessons learned from at-scale learning experiments. Postsecondary research has shown the effectiveness of practices supported by longitudinal data (high-impact practices), represent a confluence of effective learning design and teaching practices (high-impact teaching practices), and focus attention on lowering the costs of education, thereby making access to postsecondary education at least somewhat more equitable (open-educational resources). An analysis of at-scale learning experiments at the University of Colorado allows the layering of relevant and timely examples of specific MOOC design practices on top of the higher-education research and trends framework, illustrating the ways these two strands of student-success practices mutually reinforce one another.

Learning Analytics in Massive Open Online Courses as a Tool for Predicting Learner Performance


Tatiana Bystrova — Doctor of Sciences in Philosophy, Professor at Ural Institute for the Humanities, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin. E-mail: tatiana.bystrova@urfu.ru

Viola Larionova — Candidate of Sciences in Mathematical Physics, Associate Professor, Deputy Provost, Head of an academic department, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin. E-mail: v.a.larionova@ urfu.ru

Evgueny Sinitsyn — Doctor of Sciences in Mathematical Physics, Professor, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin. E-mail: e.v.sinitcyn@urfu.ru.

Alexander Tolmachev — Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Economics and Management, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin. E-mail: avtolmachev@urfu.ru

Learning analytics in MOOCs can be used to predict learner performance, which is critical as higher education is moving towards adaptive learning. Interdisciplinary methods used in the article allow for interpreting empirical qualitative data on performance in specific types of course assignments to predict learner performance and improve the quality of MOOCs. Learning analytics results make it possible to take the most from the data regarding the ways learners engage with information and their level of skills at entry. The article presents the results of applying the proposed learning analytics algorithm to analyze learner performance in specific MOOCs developed by Ural Federal University and offered through the National Open Education Platform.

Leadership and change


Stephen C. Ludwig — Regent, at Large, University of Colorado System. E-mail: Steve.Ludwig@cu.edu

On November 16, 2017, the University of Colorado Board of Regents voted unanimously to allocate US$20 million for a number of online program initiatives including the development of an online-only master’s degree and an only-only bachelor’s degree with a total fixed-cost—including tuition, books, and fees—of US$15,000 each. The price for the online-only bachelor’s degree will be roughly 75-percent cheaper than a traditional on-campus degree. This article examines lessons learned from the success and failures of an online advocate at the senior leadership level of an institution—the board of directors—that helped make the development of these new degrees possible. From these lessons, the paper argues that United States higher education culture is holding back the rapid expansion of online programs, preventing many universities from fulfilling their social contract with the public and serving more students in the mission of access. The article explores how the dominant mental framework in higher education—the prestige economy—unconsciously drives decisions by many faculty and administrative leaders, and it argues that reputation unto itself does not necessarily equate to a higher quality academic experience for students. As a recourse to the academic prestige economy, the article maps one individual board member’s experience, tracing the importance of vision, leadership, and determination in creating coalition of the willing committed to institutional change. The article ends with a series of thought questions intended as conversational prompt for institutions, regardless of size or mission, to examine their own academic cultural bias and institutional barriers that prevent embracing online programs or change in general.


Rebecca Stein — Ph.D., Economics, Executive Director, Online Learning Initiative, University of Pennsylvania. E-mail: rstein2@upenn.edu

When the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) revolution erupted in 2012 there was a vision of bringing the world of first-class research and exceptional teaching to the broadest possible audience. The University of Pennsylvania embraced MOOCs with the spirit of innovation and experimentation and is currently building on this initial foray to advance our leadership role into the online space by creating new for-cred it courses and degrees. This paper describes the administrative infrastructure that was put in place to support open online learning in its early days and explains how changing goals are bringing about reassessment of the administrative role of the online unit. This case study could inform other institutions as they explore using MOOCs towards a for-credit program by suggesting a method of incorporating a transformative technology into a traditional research and residential based teaching institution.

Education Statistics and Sociology


Daniel Alexandrov — Candidate of Sciences in Biology; Head of the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, National Research University Higher School of Economics (Saint Petersburg). Address: 16 Soyusa Pechatnikov Str., 190008, St.Petersburg, Russian Federation. E-mail: dalexandrov@hse.ru

Ksenia Tenisheva — Senior Lecturer, National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg). Address: 55 Sedova Str., 190008, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. E-mail: tenishewa. soc@gmail.com

Svetlana Savelyeva — Deputy Head, Sociology of Education and Science Laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics (St.Petersburg). Address: 55 Sedova Str., 190008, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. E-mail: ssavelieva@ hse.ru

Parental choice of primary school is analyzed using the example of local education systems in two districts of Saint Petersburg. The empirical basis of the research is provided by the results of a survey of parents conducted in 34 schools (1,055 respondents). The following data is described and compared successively: whether parents make educational choices at all, whether they consider alternative options, what school characteristics they believe to be important, what sources of information they use, and what actions they take. The study explores how characteristics of choice are related to parental education and socioeconomic status as well as to the fact of selecting a school of a specific status. Insight is provided not only into how the desire of parents to analyze all possible school options and sources of information correlates with their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds in general but also how parental choice is affected by neighborhood structural characteristics (school diversity, proportion of higher-status schools). Districts with broader structural opportunities and a larger middle class demographic feature a variety of choice strategies, which is not observed in districts with limited structural opportunities even if they are socioeconomically heterogeneous.

Third‐Grade Parent’s Involvement in Schools


Inna Antipkina — Researcher in Center for Monitoring the Quality in Education, Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: iantipkina @hse.ru

Kristina Lyubitskaya — Research Assistant, Center for Modern Childhood Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: klyubitskaya@hse.ru

Anastasiya Nisskaya — Candidate of Sciences in Psychology, Research Fellow, Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: anisskaya@ hse.ru

Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation.

The significance of the problem of parental involvement in children’s education has to do with the proven positive effects of parental involvement in school on children’s wellbeing. However, no universal comprehensive idea of family involvement types and strategies has been developed so far, and the jury is still out on the efficiency of various family-school interactions in use today. This study is designed to shed light on the forms of parental involvement, which may differ depending on family, student and school characteristics. The study seeks to operationalize the concept of parental involvement, describe parental involvement based on the findings of a large-scale survey, evaluate the dependence of parental involvement on family, student and school characteristics, suggest models to predict the level of parental involvement half way through elementary school, and develop recommendations for schools. Parents of 1,447 students from Krasnoyarsk and Kazan middle schools involved in the iPIPS project were surveyed twice using the same questionnaire, first as their children became first-graders and then at the beginning of the third grade. The survey contained questions on family demographic characteristics, parents’ at-home and at-school involvement, and parental satisfaction with school communication. It was established that parental perception of school communication climate is a much more important predictor of third-grade parent involvement in school than family sociodemographic characteristics or the level of child development assessed at baseline. On the whole, the results obtained do not confirm the benefit of using universal strategies to encourage parental involvement.



Anita Poplavskaya — Analyst, Centre for Institutional Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: aamoiseeva@hse.ru

Ivan Gruzdev — Director, Centre for Institutional Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: igruzdev@hse.ru

Andrej Petlin — Analyst, Centre for Socioeconomic Development of Schooling, Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. E-mail: apetlin @hse.ru

Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation.

The article provides an overview of international studies on parental involvement in extracurricular activities, which identify the major factors affecting the choice of such activities: family finances, cultural capital, parental education and habitus, local educational infrastructure, and the possibility of making informed choices. The empirical basis of the research was provided by the findings from semi-structured interviews with parents of Moscow preschool and school-aged children engaged in extracurricular activities conducted in spring 2017. The study also makes use of the quantitative data obtained by the 2017 Monitoring of Education Markets and Organizations. We analyze the frequency of using particular sources of information in choosing extracurricular classes, the criteria of parental choices and expectations, and the types of choice scenarios. The findings call into doubt the feasibility and potential benefits of a number of extracurricular activity initiatives envisaged by the national policy.


Nadezhda Avdeenko — Analyst at the Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: nad-avdeenko@mail.ru

Larisa Denishcheva — Candidate of Sciences in Pedagogy, Professor at the Department of Further Mathematics and Mathematics Teaching Methodology, Institute of Mathematics, Informatics and Sciences, Moscow City University. Address: 29 Sheremetyevskaya Str., 127521 Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: denisheva@inbox.ru.

Klara Krasnyanskaya — Candidate of Sciences in Pedagogy, Senior Researcher, Centre of Evaluating the Quality of Education, Institute for Strategy of Education Development, Russian Academy of Education. Address: 5/16 Makarenko Str., 105062 Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: klarakr@mail.ru.

Aleksandra Mikhaylova — Analyst, Center for Socioeconomic Aspects of Schooling, Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: s.mikhaylova211 @gmail.com.

Marina Pinskaya — Candidate of Sciences in Pedagogy, Leading Researcher, Center for Socioeconomic Aspects of Schooling, Institute of Education, National Research University Higher School of Economics. Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., 101000 Moscow, Russian Federation. E-mail: m-pinskaya@yandex.ru.

This study is part of the OECD Center for Educational Research and Innovation’s project Teaching, Assessing and Learning Creative and Critical Thinking Skills in Educationand uses action research methodology. It seeks to elaborate a teaching format to develop 21st century skills within the framework of a particular school subject, making participation in such classes available for as many teachers and students as possible. The study puts forward an approach to designing contextual problems that students are offered to solve collaboratively in the classroom. Key components of such assignments are described, which allow for fostering creativity within specific school subject domains. The results from testing the validity of such assignments are presented. Accessibility of subject-specific teaching practices enhancing 21st century skills is assessed by analyzing the outcomes of focus groups consisting of teachers and students who participated in the assignment validity assessment.