ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

E-learning platform of the future? #xcc13

Posted on: Mai 28, 2013

I started using e-learning platforms in 1999 – and I used really a lot of them. Now I’m only remembering some of them: webct, blackboard, eNcephalon, ILIAS, electure, Fronter, Moodle, … The basic features of e-learning platforms are user administration, presentation of learning material, communication & cooperation and assignments. And these features didn’t change a lot during the last 14 years. Therefore students (and some teachers as well) are often bored of the virtual learning room. Sometimes teachers  try to use  social media for classes but social media tools are not that easy to use as you have no control of data and not all students love facebook & co.

Therefore I was waiting for the next generation of e-learning platforms which on the one hand integrates social media applications and in this way fosters collaboration  and on the other hand offers a virtual room with control of data.

And – in the last weeks I had a glimpse at this new type of learning platform! I’m attending the „Creativity Mooc“ of Stanford  University and they are using the platform NovoEd. According to the website NovoEd

„is the only online learning platform that provides a connected, effective and engaging learning environment for students using a combination of techniques in crowd sourcing, design and analysis of reputation systems, and algorithm design“.

In an interview CEO and co-founder Amin Saberi states that with NovoEd he wants to „use the social web to open new doors, to make new things possible.“


Let’s have a look at the home page of the creativity course!


The homepage looks a lot more colorful than our Moodle environment. In addition to traditional elements as the menu, the topic of the week and announcements there are many connecting elements as a random view of assignment submissions, links to active  students and active teams, links to the  trending discussion threads.

In this platform about 22.000 students are  participating in the creativity course of Tina Seelig. The homepage encourages me to „visit“ some of them, to look at their assignments, their profile, read discussion posts. The learning platform „seduces“ me to look around; the elements of the homepage make me curios.


Using the button Community I can click on Forum or go to „Teams“ or „Students„. novoed2
There are 18 fora< with about 2800 threads and 17.000 posts (in day 2 of week 6). Of course it is impossible to check all threads! As the NovoEd team states they are  using algorithms which influence the appearance of the order of the threads. Every post can be voted and the number of votes probably is one of the criteria for the sequence of appearance. Other criteria are the  actuality of the  post, the number of answers. I started one thread  with respect to the platform used in the course and in the first two days I didn’t get any answer. At day 2 my thread was more or less at the end of all threads and therefore probably not visible. So I wrote a post in my thread and pushed it at a better position in the forum. And this time I was successful, Tina Seelig herself answered my question. – By the way in all MOOCs I attended until now I’m asking myself how the facilitators (cMOOC) oder instructors (xMOOC) succeed in monitoring the course.

When I’m interested in teams I can look at the team rank – how this team rank is calculated I don’t know but I’m proud that  „my“ team Serendipity is on place 3. It seems that the team rank is correlated with the activities of the team members.


When I click on a team I can see the team members and the infotext about the team. Furthermore I can read the team „journal“ (their discussion threads) and I can write a post in their threads as well. So during these weeks there were contributions of other  participants to our discussion in the Serendipity group. This approach is a very  open one and it seems that „cheating“ = looking what others are doing = collaborating is part of the pedagogical approach. I love this approach but probably other  teachers of my university could have a problem with it.

In the section „students“ I can order  information about students by „last activity“ or „team rank“.novoed-studentMy profile in the course

The presentation of the students in this way (see picture) encourages the participants to further investigate other learners.

In the section conversation I’m getting personal e-mails and group e-mails, the conversations are private. In the team „Serendipity“ we composed about 100 private threads.


The assignments of the first two weeks were individual assignments, afterwards the assignments were team assignments. At the beginning of a week our team leader Steve creates folders, documents and spreadsheets on Google and we collect ideas, pictures, videos, links. In the first 3 -4 days of a week a large amount of data arises as we are 27-30 team members. The advantage of google documents is that everybody can add his or her ideas without version problems. At the end of the week the creative team of Serendipity starts to produce a video out of all the ideas (unfortunately I was not a member of this subgroup).

The team leader is responsible to submit the group result in time – which was exciting in the first week. Fortunately Steve did a great job in submitting everything in time.


The menu of the assignments consists of the description of the assignment, a link to my team, a presentation of my submissions, a presentation of all submissions and the procedure for peer evaluation. It is easy to notice that in this platform the assignments are not focused on individual work (as in many e-learning platforms) but on the community of learners and networking.


The experience of  the NovoEd platform during the Creativity MOOC is a very interesting part of my learning outcomes of this course. I’m amazed how the  NovoEd teams succeeds in putting the collaboration and networking in the center of the virtual learning room. The platform supports an open and collaorative approach to learning which is consonant with my believes about learning. As participant of the course the design of the platform encourages me to look around, investigate students, teams and assignment submissions.

Nevertheless for my team the tools of the platform were not sufficient; we used Google documents and our Google+ network as well.

I’m curios if Austrian universities would use such a platform as well.


1 Response to "E-learning platform of the future? #xcc13"

[…] I started using e-learning platforms in 1999 – and I used really a lot of them. Now I'm only remembering some of them: webct, blackboard, eNcephalon, ILIAS, electure, Fronter, Moodle, … The basic…  […]

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