Dr. David Kellermann from the University of New South Wales spoke to the Utah Valley University (UVU) community at a recent UVU Digital Transformation Seminar. His topic was Education 4.0 and the integrated tools he uses to enhance his students’ engagement and learning. His presentation can be seen here, by members of the UVU community, and on YouTube. This post will briefly discuss past and current educational practices, introduce Education 4.0 and highlight a few key takeaways from Dr. Kellermann’s lecture.
Education: Past and Present
Education 1.0 was developed centuries ago and was refined up through the 20th century. Education 2.0 began when educators and students started using digital technology to enhance their educational experience. Education 3.0 is best characterized by the availability of learning content through mechanisms other than traditional higher education. Today, many have access to the Internet, YouTube, Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, and other rich content providers. Learning resources are available to students when and where they want them and at little or no cost.
However, higher education institutions are still creating much of their own content and providing it on their terms. Course offerings, schedules, student information, and institutional content are often consumed by and exposed through monolithic and dated tools such as student information systems (SISs), learning management systems (LMSs), etc. Often the organizations delivering these tools harvest a vast amount of institutional and student information to improve their offerings and develop new technologies to market. To make matters worse, the more intellectual investment we make in such tools, the more difficult it is to move to something better.
Many of our students want to move beyond this traditional educational model. They are demanding Education 4.0 functionality such as collaborative real-time editing, video calls/communication, chat interaction, mobile functionality, cloud storage, and the ubiquitous use of AI and natural language processing. In his lecture, Dr. Kellermann noted that even his Education 3.0 online work consisted of a collection of PDF lecture notes and an associated list of video captured lectures. He realized that the content on YouTube and other sites was superior in many ways. This inspired him to make online learning better and even superior to on-campus learning.
Education 4.0 parallels the 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), where data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robots, the Internet of things (IoT), and automation dominate. Future jobs will require higher levels of proficiency in these and other technical fields. In a general sense, Education 4.0 must provide the training for a future Industry 4.0 workforce.
Education 4.0 is transforming our academic approach, including the design, delivery, and assessment of teaching and learning. We have to transform content creation and acquisition, delivery mechanisms, learning spaces, assessment approaches, student mentoring, advising services, and learning tools. Education 4.0 students must use and be immersed in the tools that Industry 4.0 demands: data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, robotics, Internet of things, etc.
There are many interesting aspects of Dr. Kellermann’s setup and work. I’ll point out a few here, but you may well find others that you find more compelling in his lecture. His work is clearly in the realm of Education 4.0 so hang on, keep your arms and legs within the ride at all times, and enjoy a glimpse of the future.
At the center of Dr. Kellermann’s toolset is Microsoft Teams. However, he uses a variety of Microsoft tools to add functionality to his class offerings. If you are unfamiliar with Teams, you can learn more about it from the UVU Digital Transformation Learning Gallery. Just think of your class as a team and Teams being the tool that allows you to share files with them, chat with them, initiate video meetings, interact with applications in real-time, assess student accomplishment, give them feedback, and share applications with them. It’s the hub that every topic below depends on.
Dr. Kellermann creates a team for each class, including all students in the class, his assistants, and himself. Teams have channels, and he creates a channel for each week of his class. Each channel contains learning objects, assessment tools, assignments, etc., related to a particular topic. Within each channel, there are tabs that are essentially applications. There may be a chat tab, a gradebook tab, an assignment tab, etc. Each channel may have the same tabs or a different set of tabs depending on the need.
Dr. Kellermann’s technology setup is novel and intriguing. I may miss a few details, but essentially he has two camera views and a screen view to stream to his students. He can switch between these three views with a simple handheld remote. The primary camera view is of him lecturing beside a Microsoft Surface Hub. From here, he can use Teams to display a class notebook created using OneNote, present Powerpoint presentations, review documents, etc. The Surface Hub allows multi-touch functionality and on-screen marking with digital ink.
The second camera view is from a camera on top of the Surface Hub. This view is useful when working on a problem on the Surface Hub, as we might do on a whiteboard. This enables him to work “at the board” while still facing the remote students.
The screen view of the Surface Hub allows fine detail to be viewed by a remote audience. The surface hub displays branding for the institution and a picture in picture feature allowing Dr. Kellermann to be seen even during screen sharing. It also includes a chat area where students and Dr. Kellermann can communicate and, more importantly, where students can communicate freely and answer one another’s questions.
Dr. Kellermann also has a separate screen where he can easily view chats and acquire questions to be answered. Finally, he has included reasonable lighting, a good sound system, and a color adapting light source to backlight the screen. You’ll fully appreciate the setup after viewing him in action.
Class recordings can be very useful for students. Using Teams, a class recording is as simple as pushing a virtual button. The entire meeting, including the chats, are recorded and stored in Microsoft Streams. Once in Streams, recordings are transcribed, and the resulting texts are available for reading, searching, etc. It is simple to search the transcription for topics of interest, click on that portion of the transcription, and the associated video starts playing at that point. Recorded videos can be manipulated using Microsoft’s Power Automate to create a video gallery that can be included within Teams as a tab within the associated class.
We all know it is a tremendous amount of work to move developed courseware from one learning management system to another. Dr. Kellermann points out that he no longer uses an LMS at all, but moving courseware to a completely different type of tool all at once isn’t easy either. Not to fear, an LMS can be easily added to Teams as a tab within a course. What’s better is that since the students are within a class in Teams, they have already authenticated. When they go to the LMS tab, they don’t need to authenticate again, and they are taken directly to the class associated with their class in Teams. This ability allows for a metered transition from a class using an LMS to one no longer dependent on it. This enables faculty and staff to collaboratively determine a smooth and well-supported migration.
Bots and Artificial Intelligence
Dr. Kellermann has invested significant time and resources into developing a question bot, called QBot, based on Microsoft’s Bot Framework. He has made QBot publicly available on GitHub. When a student inserts a question in the chat window and references @Q, the QBot looks up the class and section the student is in, determines the teacher’s assistants associated with the class, and sends them a cell phone notification indicating they have a question to respond to.
Also, QBot uses natural language processing and AI to parse the question and determines if it “knows,” with a high probability, the answer to the question. If QBot is confident, it responds immediately with an answer. Remember where we discussed the transcriptions from recorded class lectures? QBot also has access to those transcriptions, and if it believes that the question is addressed in a lecture, it points the student to that very moment of class instruction. If QBot isn’t confident that it “knows” the answer, it remains silent. However, it recognizes when the teacher’s assistant responds and uses that answer to enhance its collection of question and answer pairs; better luck next time. It should be noted that AI is not used to replace people but connect them and enhance their interactions.
Data, Data, and More Data
With the class in Teams, there is a vast amount of resulting data that can be used to enhance education. This data is private to the institution and not accessible by the tool provider, in this case, Microsoft. For example, attendance, quiz outcomes, homework scores, and test results for each student for each topic are easily extracted. Another Microsoft tool, Power BI, can create dashboards for visualizing and acting on this data. Additionally, AI can be employed to look at previous semester data with associated final exam and class scores to predict where each student needs help. This data can be used to construct a personalized study guide to maximize student learning and help them succeed.
We are currently at the end of an era, Education 3.0, but our students are running ahead of us and expecting us to join them in the era of Education 4.0. To join our students, we must transform the institution; we must change our technology architectures, culture, tools, processes, and practices. Dr. David Kellermann has worked hard to develop a set of tools and practices that work well for him. I am confident that each institution, each faculty, and our great students will find a slightly different set of tools and practices that are right for them. I’m excited about Education 4.0 at Utah Valley University and can’t wait to see the student success it yields!