Reclaim Open Learning

better online learning for higher ed


September 19, 2013 by Claudia Caro Sullivan

Alex Selkirk, Ponder
Ben Stern

We have developed Parlor to empower teachers to leverage open educational resources in their classes in the spirit of connected learning. It enables students to flag excerpts of their reading with their reaction and its connection to class content. The flags generate a Class Feed for the purposes of discussion and data to provide the instructor with a sense of what his/her students are reading and thinking. Classes become more equitable when teachers have a full picture of their student’s reading behaviors, even if they don’t flag anything and don’t have an opportunity to participate in a live class discussion. Parlor is also platform agnostic, so all students need is access to an internet connection to use it. Teachers are encouraged to contribute to the class feed with their own flags, leveling the imbalance between teacher and student. All members of a class can agree with and respond to their peers flags in the Class Feed, in the hope that the discussion begins before class does. In seeing their peers flags, students access new content and new ideas. Like any good discussion, the participants shift the focus based on their interests and concerns.

We are continuing to learn about how students and teachers use Parlor since we have launched in higher education and have begun pilots in K-12 schools. We also have a controlled, IRB-approved study underway at San Francisco State University to verify Parlor’s efficacy and consider ways to improve it.

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