Digital in 2016 — from by Simon Kemp


[On January 27, 2016] we’re very excited to share our huge new Digital in 2016 report: We Are Social’s comprehensive study of digital, social and mobile usage around the world.

Last year’s global report has already been read almost 2 million times on SlideShare, but we’ve also had many requests for information on other countries, so this year we’ve decided to produce a report in three distinct parts:

1. Digital in 2016: the main report, which you can read in the SlideShare embed above (or on SlideShare by clicking here), containing all the digital data, social stats and mobile numbers you need to understand the state of digital around the globe, as well as in-depth studies of 30 of the world’s key economies.

2. 2016 Digital Yearbook: an additional document which contains headline digital, social and mobile data and statistics for 232 countries around the world. You can read and download this report for free too – you’ll find it as another SlideShare embed further down in this post, but you can also find it on SlideShare by clicking here.

3. The Executive Summary: this blog post, which presents our analysis of the key trends and context behind the numbers in this year’s report, as well as our forecasts and predictions for the coming twelve months. You can also download the Executive Summary in PDF form by clicking here.









From DSC:
Big data is a big theme these days — in a variety of industries. Higher ed is no exception, where several vendors continue to develop products that hope to harness the power of big data (and to hopefully apply the lessons learned in a variety of areas, including retention).

However as an Instructional Designer, when I think of capturing and using data in the context of higher education, I’m not thinking about institutional type of data mining and the corresponding dashboards that might be involved therein.  I’m thinking of something far more granular — something that resembles a tool for an individual professor to use.

I’m thinking more about individual students and their learning.  I’m thinking about this topic in terms of providing additional information for a faculty member to use to gauge the learning within his or her particular classes — and to be able to highlight issues for them to address.

So, for example, when I’m thinking about how a mathematics professor might obtain and use data, I’m thinking of things like:

  • How did each individual do on this particular math problem?
  • Who got it right? Who got it wrong?
  • How many got it right? How many got it wrong?
  • For those who got the problem wrong, where in the multi-step process did they go wrong?

So perhaps even if we’re only obtaining students’ final answers — whether that be via clickers, smartphones, laptops, and/or tablets — data is still being created. Data that can then be analyzed and used to steer the learning.  This type of information can then help the mathematics professor follow up accordingly — either with some individuals or with the entire class if he/she saw many students struggling with a new concept.

Such data gathering can get even more granular if one is using elearning types of materials.  Here, the developers can measure and track things like mouse clicks, paths taken, and more.  So like the approaching Internet of Things, data can get produced on a mass scale.

But very few mathematics professors have the time to:

  • manually track X/Y/or Z per student 
  • manually capture how an entire class just did on a math problem
  • manually document where each student who got a problem incorrect went wrong

So in the way that I’m thinking about this topic, this entire push/idea of using data and analytics in education requires things to happen digitally — where results can automatically be stored without requiring any manual efforts on the part of the professor.

The ramifications of this are enormous.

That is, the push to use analytics in education — at least at the personalized learning level that I’m thinking of — really represents and actually requires a push towards using blended and/or online-based learning.  Using strictly 100% face-to-face based classrooms and environments — without any digital components involved — won’t cut it if we want to harness the power of analytics/data mining to improve student learning.

Though this may seem somewhat obvious, again, the ramifications are huge for how faculty members structure their courses and what tools/methods that they choose to utilize.  But this goes way beyond the professor.  It also has enormous implications for those departments and teams who are working on creating/revising learning spaces — especially in terms of the infrastructures such spaces offer and what tools might be available within them.  It affects decision makers all the way up to the board-level as well (who may not be used to something other than a face-to-face setting…something they recall from their own college days).

What do you think? Are you and/or your institution using big data and analytics? If so, how?



Also see:

Big data and higher education: These apps change everything — from


Big Data is going to college. The companies on this list have been developing innovative higher education analytics apps. Universities are realizing the importance of harnessing Big Data for the purposes of helping students to succeed, helping instructors to know what students still need to learn, analyzing efficiency in all areas, boosting enrollment, and more.

For example, CourseSmart embeds analytics directly into digital textbooks. These analytics provide an “engagement index score,” which measures how much students are interacting with their eTextbooks (viewing pages, highlighting, writing notes, etc.). Researchers have found that that the engagement index score helps instructors to accurately predict student outcomes more than traditional measurement methods, such as class participation.

In addition, there are dashboards that enable Big Data analytics and visualization for the purpose of monitoring higher education KPIs such as enrollment, accreditation, effectiveness, research, financial information, and metrics by class and by department. Read on to find out about the companies that are shaping Big Data analytics in higher education.


How five edtech start-ups are using big data to boost business education — from by Seb Murray
MOOC platforms explore analytics with b-school partners


“Data is an amazing resource for teachers, who glean detailed feedback on how learners are processing information,” says Julia Stiglitz, director of business development at Coursera, the online learning site with 17 million users.

Coursera, which works with the b-schools IE, Yale and Duke Fuqua, offers a dashboard that gives teachers insight into when students are most likely to stop watching a video, and the percentage who answer assessment questions correctly the first time around.

“By carefully assessing course data, from mouse clicks to time spent on tasks to evaluating how students respond to various assessments, researchers hope to shed light on how learners access information and master materials,” says Nancy Moss, edX’s director of communications.



Interactive app brings 4th-century thinker to life — from by Toni Fuhrman
At Villanova University, a student-developed app version of Augustine’s Confessions brings contemporary vitality and relevance to a classic 4th-century work.


Augustine of Hippo, who lived from A.D. 354 to 430, might be surprised to find his Confessions in circulation today, including a number of e-book versions. Still widely read, popular in great books programs and studied in university classes, The Confessions of St. Augustine is autobiography and confession, spiritual quest and emotional journey.

One of the most recent electronic versions of the Confessions is an interactive app developed at Villanova University (PA), the nation’s only Augustinian Catholic University. Released three months ago on Augustine’s birthday (Nov. 13), the Confessions app is required for all freshmen as part of a “foundation” course. Available for both Apple and Android devices, the app includes the 13 books of the Confessions, authoritative commentaries, photo gallery, timeline, map and text-highlighted audio, as well as search, note-taking, annotation and bookmark options.


“What better way to reflect on and update this struggle than for today’s students to use technology to bring the text to life through visual, audio and analytical components?”







From DSC:
Love the idea. Love the use of teams — including students — to produce this app!








University of Phoenix owner, Apollo Education Group, will be taken private — from by Patricia Cohen and Chad Bray


The troubled for-profit education company that owns the giant University of Phoenix agreed on Monday to be bought for $1.1 billion by a group of investors that includes a private equity firm with close ties to the Obama administration.

The university and its owner, the Apollo Education Group, have been subject to a series of state and federal investigations into allegations of shady recruiting, deceptive advertising and questionable financial aid practices.

In recent years, many for-profit educational institutions that have received billions of dollars in federal aid, including the University of Phoenix, have been pummeled by criticisms that they preyed upon veterans and low-income students, saddling them with outsize student loan debt and subpar instruction.


Also see:

  • New education department office to crack down on colleges — from by Josh Mitchell
    Student Aid Enforcement Unit will focus on schools accused of misconduct
    The Obama administration plans to boost the federal government’s power to investigate and punish colleges accused of deceptive marketing tactics and other misconduct, part of a campaign to address years of student complaints about for-profit institutions.


Also see:

Student Aid Enforcement Unit Formed to protect students, borrowers, taxpayers — from on 2/8/16


As part of the Obama Administration’s aggressive action to protect students and taxpayers, the U.S. Department of Education is creating a Student Aid Enforcement Unit to respond more quickly and efficiently to allegations of illegal actions by higher education institutions.

“When Americans invest their time, money and effort to gain new skills, they have a right to expect they’ll actually get an education that leads to a better life for them and their families,” said Acting Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “When that doesn’t happen we all pay the price. So let me be clear: schools looking to cheat students and taxpayers will be held accountable.”



From DSC:
For profits have brought some solid things to the education table…but they’ve also brought some bad practices to the table as well. To some degree, the above items relate to the efforts and influence of the federal government to affect institutions involved in higher education.

Taking this thought into a different direction then…one should think carefully, therefore, when the federal government opens up new efforts to support innovation within higher education — something I support, by the way, as it could facilitate the creation of alternative pathways for learners and it finally enforces some true competition — and therefore a greater emphasis on innovation — within the higher ed landscape. (Yes I realize that there’s some level of competition within institutions of traditional higher education…but historical and current accreditation practices have pretty much kept things looking quite similar across the landscape.)

Institutions of traditional higher education may now be forced to rethink their game plans and strategies as they move forward — something I hope that will positively impact our future students.  Such forces and events should make institutions of traditional higher education more innovative, open to change (where it’s needed), relevant, and responsive to changes in the environment.



Personal Response Systems and Student Engagement — from by Stephanie Blackmon

Key Takeaways (the professor used Poll Everywhere)

  • A professor who wanted a mechanism for students to share their learning experiences, particularly a tool with the potential for anonymized feedback, implemented a mobile personal response system to accomplish that goal.
  • This article explains how the Poll Everywhere system helped the professor gauge students’ experiences in her course and consequently adjust aspects of the course based on students’ learning needs.
  • Practical uses for a mobile personal response system in a face-to-face course can spur further ideas for their effective use in synchronous and asynchronous online courses and other online environments.

Practical Online-Course Uses

Specific practical uses for a mobile personal response system in synchronous and asynchronous online courses can spur other ideas for their effective use. Some immediately practical uses include:

  • Poll students at the end of a lesson to assess student learning and adjust the remainder of the class time based on their responses (synchronous courses)
  • Use polls to quiz students on course material (synchronous and asynchronous courses)
  • Use polls for early course activities to get to know students and allow them to get to know each other (synchronous and asynchronous courses)
  • Imbed polls in course presentations to get just-in-time responses from students about course material during the presentation (synchronous courses)


From DSC:
A polling/student response system can be a solid tool in your toolbox, especially if you are teaching in an active learning environment.

Stephanie Blackmon, in the article above, mentioned that she was using Poll Everywhere:




Professor Derek Bruff also uses Poll Everywhere and has some solid thoughts re: clickers out at his website:



In fact, Derek was presenting last year at Vanderbilt University, during a Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference.  He effectively used Poll Everywhere’s clickable image question type in the session that I attended:




While not an exhaustive list, below are some other tools to consider in this space:





Turning Technologies








Top Hat









Via Response




Microsoft Pulse



Survey Monkey




From Campus Technology 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards (09/30/15):

Student Response Systems and Classroom Clickers
Faculty members want to know whether their students are paying attention in class, and student response systems provide a simple way to know whether that’s happening. i>clicker, grabbing first place, introduced REEF Polling in April 2015, a free app for instructors that can be set up in two minutes, according to the company, and can allow dynamic polling sessions with any presentation application without having to import content first. Students subscribe to a paid version of REEF Polling to use with their smart devices to answer questions and show the instructor whether lessons have stuck or not. Runner-up Turning Technologies sells software and response devices for polling in the classroom (TurningPoint) and remote locations (RemotePoll). Third-place finisher Poll Everywhere’s higher ed plan offers an app that’s free for up to 40 responses per poll.

Platinum: i>clicker

Gold: Turning Technologies

Silver: Poll Everywhere



Addendum on 2/9/16:

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):
Nelson said there are many ways of effectively utilizing the i>clicker in classes: to facilitate discussion; to test preexisting knowledge; to ask anonymous questions; or to quiz students on the material taught, where instructors can give points to correct answers or simply to student participation.


Deuteronomy 6:4-5 New International Version (NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.


5 ways to address student resistance in the flipped classroom — from by Barbi Honeycutt

“Students forced to take major responsibility for their own learning go through some or all of the steps psychologists associate with trauma and grief:  Shock, Denial, Strong emotion, Resistance and withdrawal, Struggle and exploration, Return of confidence, and Integration and success” (Felder & Brent, 1996, p. 43.)


Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In these [active learning] environments, you’re not going to see a classroom where students are listening to the teacher’s voice as he or she presents information from the textbook. Instead, you’ll see students engaged in a task and solving a problem. They are often working groups. The room is noisy since the students are discussing, solving, and testing ideas.  The teacher’s voice is one of many.

The flipped classroom is one type of active learning environment.  It’s dynamic, it’s engaging, and it’s “messy” since students are actively engaging in higher level thinking skills during class time.  It requires us to change the way we think about teaching and learning.

It’s also hard.

It’s hard because flipped classrooms require a new set of skills for both the instructor and the students.  Just as we (the instructors) are learning how to create these flipped learning experiences for our students, our students are also learning how to thrive in these new learning environments. And this is why we might see more student resistance in active learning environments. Just as Felder and Brent explain in the opening quote, it’s almost like our students are moving through the stages from shock and withdrawal to confidence and success.



Also see:

New Challenges to Active Learning Initiatives — from

Key Takeaways

  • Year two of Case Western Reserve University’s Active Learning Fellowship program supported the first year’s evidence of success in using active learning techniques in active learning classrooms.
  • Unexpectedly, active learning techniques applied in large classes in regular classrooms proved unpopular with students, as expressed in surveys and focus groups at the end of the semester.
  • The challenges teased out of the data indicated additional factors influencing active learning success and guided modifications to year three of the Active Learning Fellowship faculty selection process.



Winner revealed for Microsoft’s HoloLens App Competition — from by Peter Graham


Out of the thousands of ideas entered, Airquarium, Grab the Idol and Galaxy Explorer were the three that made it through. Out of those the eventual winner was Galaxy Explorer with a total of 58 per cent of the votes. The app aims to give users the ability to wander the Milky Way and learn about our galaxy. Navigating through the stars and landing on the myriad of planets that are out there.




Also see:

Virtual Reality in 2016: What to expect from Google, Facebook, HTC and others in 2016 — from by Naina Khedekar


Many companies have made their intentions for virtual reality clear. Let’s see what they are up to in 2016.



Also see:


Somewhat related, but in the AR space:

Augmented reality(AR) has continued to gain momentum in the educational landscape over the past couple of years. These educators featured below have dove in head first using AR in their classrooms and schools. They continue to share excellent resources to help educators see how augmented reality can engage students and deepen understanding.




Intel launches x-ray-like glasses that allow wearers to ‘see inside’ objects — from by
Smart augmented reality helmet allows wearers to overlay maps, schematics and thermal images to effectively see through walls, pipes and other solid objects


Unlike devices such as HoloLens or Google Glass, which have been marketed as consumer devices, the Daqri Smart Helmet is designed with industrial use in mind. It will allow the wearer to effectively peer into the workings of objects using real-time overlay of information, such as wiring diagrams, schematics and problem areas that need fixing.



From with a shout out to Mr. Jeremy Luscombe for the resource:


Courtesy Of Resonics


Top 20 User Experience Blogs and Resources of 2015 — from by Matt Ellis

Example resources from that posting:










BONUS: 15 Honorable Mentions

The following is a list of other excellent user experience blogs that did not make it in this list but are so good that they are still worth a mention. So please be sure to check them out as well!


From DSC:
Though I’m sure this list is missing many talented folks and firms, it’s a great place to start learning about user experience design, interface design, interaction design, prototyping, and usability testing.




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