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IES Contract

Title: u-learn.net: An Anywhere/Anytime Formative Assessment and Learning Feedback Environment
Center: NCER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Cope, William Awardee: Common Ground Publishing, LLC
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2.5 years Award Amount: $850,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES11C0019
Description:

Product Video Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-_kmfVDlRU

Purpose: In recent years there has been considerable public concern about the state of writing — a threshold skill for academic achievement, employment, and participation in today's world. This project team will create a new technology tool designed to improve student writing performance and the usefulness of writing assessments. U-learn.net will be an online environment that will combine social networking and semantic tagging technologies to give learners constant feedback in the form of on-demand formative assessment. The 'u' of the u.learn tool stands for 'ubiquitous' or the idea that social networking technologies allow the social relationships of learning to continue beyond the classroom and traditional school day.

Project Activities: A teacher advisory board will be convened to provide input on the project design and software specifications. Prototype development will include data modeling, tagging schemas (text structure and text/curriculum content), and technical specifications. Lab testing will be conducted at each stage to review and rate components, and to assess utility. Classroom-based research and development will involve overlapping and iterative processes of feasibility analysis, technical specification, software development, and beta testing. A feasibility study will collect pilot data in six eighth grade science classrooms to examine ease of implementation and whether the tool shows promise for improving the writing process. Key outcomes will include time, format, amount and nature of teacher feedback, student performance on common writing assignments using a standard (NAEP) rubric, student self-assessment, teacher preparation, and teacher and student satisfaction.

Product: The tool will use Web 2.0 technologies where users generate content to provide feedback for learners and support formative assessment. The tool will support the capture of text, image, table, diagram, video, and audio, thus allowing the construction of a wide range of multimodal texts such as scientific reports, writing in language arts, history essays, and social studies projects. It will also support collaborative work, and maintain an audit trail of co-authors' varied contributions. Alongside the student work environment, there will be three formative assessment processes and learner feedback mechanisms: 1) a commenting and editing module; 2) a review and rating module; and 3) a semantic tagging module.


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