This week in learning innovation – 02.08.15

[This is the latest in a series of weekly posts chronicling examples of learning innovation that come across my Web radar. All of the weekly posts are tagged as twili.]

OK, OK, so I’ve completely failed at the whole “weekly” thing.  I’m surprised neither of my readers, including my mother, called me on this.

But, I aim high, right? So, onward…

Also, I’ll subtitle this edition of twili as: “The peer learning edition.”


Minerva’s Active Learning Forum

The Active Learning Forum is designed specifically to improve your educational experience, with features including:
  • Small video seminars with fewer than 20 students
  • Rapid breakout groups
  • Collaborative document editing and markup
  • Dynamic quizzes and polling
  • Real-time simulation
  • Enhanced debates
  • Individualized instruction and feedback
  • Schedule and assignment management
  • Performance review and progress tracking

Honestly, I have no idea what to make of Minerva. There’s a lot to not like about the concept (e.g. Can you declare yourself “elite” before you even start?), but I’m not going to write it off. And, watch this video that showcases their proprietary videoconferencing platform, the Active Learning Forum. I don’t know if it actually works as smoothly as the video would have you believe, but color me intrigued. I’m on a task force right now that’s considering various videoconferencing solutions for a university-wide adoption. Nothing even remotely looks like this.



Peerstudio is a free tool from Stanford and UC San Diego that makes it easy for students in a class to give each other feedback on assignments. It’s designed so students get feedback that is fast and helpful for revision. Then, when you’re done, you can turn in your final work, and have it assessed by peers.

I’ve experimented with a few different ways to do peer feedback for online courses. By most accounts, the ways I’ve done peer feedback work, though they’re certainly not as seamless as I’d like. So, I’m always looking for new ways to do peer feedback. PeerStudio was built by folks at Stanford and UCSD, and it appears to be targeted at xMOOC platforms such as Coursera and edX. But, it does use LTI, so there’s hope that it might integrate with other open platforms.




talkabout makes it easy to start learning from your peers. Choose a time that works for your schedule and talkabout will organize a discussion session with other students from your same course. You’ll meet with your peers through a Google Hangout video conference. talkabout integrates an agenda of suggested topics and exercises to help guide the conversation and complement the work you’re doing in class.

talkabout is another videoconferencing tool (and another one developed at Stanford), and this one appears to be targeted at large enrollment courses (I suppose online or even hybrid). That said, I don’t think it has to be used for large enrollment courses. If you teach an online course with, say, 40 students, and you wanted to have 10 groups of 4 meeting in a Google+ Hangout, this tool could be really handy. I haven’t tried talkabout yet, but will report back when I do.

I only learned about PeerStudio and talkabout after D. Christopher Brooks tweeted a link to an article reporting the results of an interesting study of peer learning in large enrollment online courses. +1 for sharing on Twitter and +1000 for open-access research!

2 thoughts on “This week in learning innovation – 02.08.15”

  1. Tom says:

    The I’ll-do-this-weekly-fail is something I’ve done many times.

    It’s all about the workflow baby!

  2. Matt Poole says:

    I really miss DimDim. Have you looked into Zoom, perchance?

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