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Analytics and intuition: Reading classroom gestures (Tom Murdock, Moodle Moot 2010)

JILIN CITY, CHINA - JUNE 7: A teacher cheers ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Tom Murdock talked about transitions - students transitioning from high school to college or to a career. The mismatch requires some planning to address the issue, and a growing number of states in the US have policies that help prepare high school graduates for college through aligned standards, and course requirements. Furthermore, many states have policies to ensure high school graduates are workforce ready.

Remedial courses in the US are utilised by 77% - math, 30% - English, 29% - reading, 12% study skills, 35% - writing (these are percentages of 1st and 2nd year students who ave taken remedial courses since high school graduation).

A teacher can see, by doing a close reading of gestures, a student's engagement with elements of the course, find out about activity efficacy, and clues about course fulfillment. As such, Tom Murdock suggests that one way of helping solve the transition problem is by teaching an analytics engine to intuit information from Moodle gestures is a positive way to 'fix it before it's broke' - finding out with a student where they are and offering support if required. Moodle activity reports, input into forum posts, and quality of responses can give real clues to student engagement or disconnection.

Separate and connected knowers - a separate knower will say, 'I understand this, and I have an idea', whereas a connected knower who does not really assert what he/she knows "but Jill just said something interesting". When we are online and can't look each other in the face and can't really help each other with communication, we have to practice both separate and connected knowing. Moodle has these principles underpinning its design.

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Comment by Helen Martin on April 15, 2010 at 7:14
While the headline reason for student disengagement given in the TIME article is apathy, the behaviours described are much more active than that. It's war, apparently, and the students are very well armed. I'd like to read more about gestures.

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