Learning science, insights, and the journey to better outcomes

June 28th, 2017

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I come from a family of instructors. I believe there are few richer ways to contribute to the world than to help students to achieve their potential.

I've been incredibly lucky to have had a career that's taken me all around the US, and all over the world - to meet all kinds of students and to witness passionate instructors, novel instructional techniques, and effective educational technologies in action. I'm always inspired by what I learn, and continually energized to create better ways to help students and instructors to succeed.

I've developed digital learning products for many years. At last count, they've been used by more than 25 million learners. That's both thrilling and a humbling responsibility. Yet looking forward, I think we're entering into a particularly exciting chapter in digital education. Here's what we're employing at Macmillan Learning and why I'm so excited by what we can contribute to learners and learning:

  • Digital technologies are finally sufficiently flexible and ubiquitous that we can develop learning products that really are personal and connected.
  • Design thinking has revolutionized how to co-create with students and instructors education solutions that solve fundamental challenges with compelling and intuitive experiences.
  • Learning Science is an evolving field, but much is well understood about how to apply it to design effective and impactful learning experiences. Blended with User Experience Design, we can now engineer better learning into digital products.
  • Agile development (from software, to content, and beyond) allows iterative, continuous improvement which is critical in turning a good learning experience into a great one.
  • Implementation science is emerging as a means to research how different instructors in different situations can achieve different results with the same learning tools, and to use these insights to help more of their peers to get better results.
  • Engineering digital products to capture specific interaction data is revealing entirely new, empirical insights into how students behave and learn. Combined with contextual "small data" from on-the-ground observations, we can now research at the local and national level - from how effective a product is in improving learner outcomes and how it can be refined, to how instructors can be guided to get the very best results for their students.

With this innovation toolkit to hand, it's been a lot of fun to build an entirely new Learning Science and Insights team from the ground up at Macmillan Learning. We certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but we do believe that the blend of learning science (what works), user-centered design (empathy and understanding), and insights from big and small data (empirical trends and local context) are helping us to design a next-generation of learning products that will help more learners to reach their goals.

We are energized by the opportunity to help learners and instructors to succeed, and humbled by the responsibility. We'll be regularly sharing our approach, findings, successes and failures. We hope you'll accompany us along our journey and contribute to it.

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Edupreneurship: Using Research and Evaluation to Devise Innovations that Drive Outcomes

Entrepreneurship in educational technology, also known simply as edupreneurship, is a hot topic-so hot that there are conferences devoted to it (including next week's ASUGSV), philanthropic efforts focused on it (such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and even graduate degrees concentrating on it (including the University of Pennsylvania's M.S. in Education Entrepreneurship).

April 9, 2019

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The Power of Active Learning: Does It Work?

“Active learning enhances motivation, deepens retention, promotes transfer, and builds collaborative skills useful in work and life.” Dr. Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

March 11, 2019

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Using student-centered design to create more engaging edtech: A SXSWedu Educator Workshop

At Macmillan Learning, we have been experimenting with and refining these techniques over the last two years to develop a next-generation or more effective and engaging digital experiences for students. We have learned that involving students from the very first steps and throughout the design process is fundamental to creating learning products that are empathetic, drive higher student engagement, and enable instructors to achieve better outcomes.

March 11, 2019

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