• Angie Milliren

On the Horizon of 2020

Analytics for Student Success:

We were challenged to respond to 4 of the 6 areas for this week’s blog. I need to give a nod to “AI/Machine Learning Applications” within the “Analytic for Student Success” reflection. The application, EdInsight, we use for writing curriculum and storing our IEPs/gIEPs in my public school flooded my mind as I perused these two sections. When logging into the application, there is a matrix that shows the top students enrolled in my courses with an at-risk score. That score is a combination of GPA, Absence History, ABE Disciplinary Referrals, and “Other” notes on file. The students with the highest at-risk scores have been identified to likely have higher failure rates.

While the matrix encourages me to pay special attention to certain students, it can also be misleading. “While the use of learning analytics might provide a promising opportunity for improving student success, its use comes with caveats related to important data gaps…” (2020 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report 2020) Students who are highly successful in school are attending more external learning opportunities which is reflected in their attendance. Once particularly talented class I taught featured all five of my Tri M Honor Society officers as the top five at-risk students. All five graduated with over a 4.0 and all five are successful college grads working toward master’s and doctoral degrees. While that year was the exception to the rule, I still consider each student on that matrix in daily student interactions.

Adaptive Learning Technologies:

I first encountered the application “Newsela” in an after school professional development session several years back when it was in its infancy. The staff at the training were encouraged to look up an article that could be read across the department by all students. While the music articles were based in music history and not music theory and performance, we struggled as a music department to find an appropriate article. We eventually agreed to launch the assignment on a snow day as the “at-home” assignment. The multiple reading levels that are built into this adaptive technology ensured that all students in our department were able to share in the article but with various adaptations for vocabulary and length. All students were able to communicate the main theme through a written/recorded post summary. While I wish the service had more fine arts articles, I think it would be a treasure trove to other departments.

Elevation of Instructional Design, Learning Engineering, and UX Design:

Never before has it been so obvious that educational institutions are in need of instructional designers who are helping to develop courses for online learning. The public school in which I work is currently “retro fitting” courses to include “playlists” for all students. The goal from the technology director is that the students will have a similar UX as they navigate through the playlist each week. Similarly, at Davis College at WVU, each course is preloaded with a shell that serves to help students navigate through the weekly modules. The shells also help the professors move content from a traditional lecture into eCampus (Blackboard).

The playlists at my public school are designed that early elementary students are able to navigate the environment while the course shell in Davis College is easy to follow for the adult learner. Each environment takes into account the needed pedagogy and andragogy best suited for the learning institution. “Assessing how students learn, measuring user experiences, applying design thinking to course development, and providing faculty with new foundational digital skills and literacies are examples of additional functions that have boosted LDs into new roles.” (2020 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report 2020) While the overall appearance of the LMS UX varies in my two careers (Canvas and eCampus), the design of the environments needs to be universal by institution. The uniformity is essential for a successful UX for users to facilitate asynchronous online learning.

Open Education Resources:

This past summer, I had an educational experience that really changed my perception about both my own learning and how to design my online learning experiences for students. I had the great fortune of participating in an Independent Study with Dr. Beasley. While attending the Ohio Education Technology Conference [OETC] in February, he had shared with me how ardent he was about making courses accessible for students. The summer course I wanted to take was cancelled and I really wanted to delve into a course while I was off from teaching for the summer. Through my Independent Study with Dr. Beasley, I read more articles on accessibility than I knew ever existed. I played in my eCampus and Canvas “Sandboxes” and I tried many screen readers so I might experience online learning as a vision-impaired student. What I learned made me very sad for my own students who require accommodations in my public education job and made me really look at the structure of my online courses I design. After speaking with him at length about this process, I think I want to create an OER for Davis College as to the creation of courses that take into account students who need accommodations. How exciting to share one’s knowledge about a subject that might be at the forefront of an instructor’s mind but can be a game changer for the learners. The knowledge I gleaned was not just from reading, but from sharing on Twitter with other designers who share my same vision. I attended a virtual day of workshops and learned new ways to approach accessibility. I would love to share what I have learned with others and continue to hone my skills as an instructional designer. I am so excited for my future.


Brown, M., McCormack, M., Reeves, J., Brooks, D., & Grajek, S. (2020). 2020 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report (pp. 13-31, Rep.). Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE.