Always ON Higher Education2021-09-30T22:23:49+00:00

Always ON™ Higher Education

The official blog of Omega Notes

2210, 2019

Improve Differentiated Learning Through Ed Tech

By |October 22nd, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Differentiated learning in a post-secondary environment can improve not just student engagement and retention of material but instructor responsiveness to student needs. Ed tech is a tool that can provide faculty with student analytics and insight on how students engage with material, from acquisition to expression. Instructors may then be better able to identify areas of concern with student learning, leading to a roadmap for appropriate intervention. 

What is Differentiated Learning?

Differentiated learning, or DI, is often confused with individual instruction which, naturally, is nearly impossible for a college instructor with 50 students or more in a section. Rather, differentiated instruction is a way of expanding instruction methods to better meet student needs. Students gain knowledge in a way that enables them to retain it better and use it more effectively for problem-solving and critical thinking. Differentiated learning also challenges the instructor to discover new approaches to the material, and by doing so can re-energize and engage faculty, resulting in a better learning experience for students.

Using Ed Tech to Improve DI

Ed tech enables student-oriented and evidence-based development and implementation of strategic intervention strategies in the classroom. By measuring and tabulating student use, including frequency and type of engagement, ed tech can provide instructors with useful data that shows teachers how well students grasp classroom instruction. Faculty can design better differentiated learning strategies with less guesswork and greater efficiency.

Beyond the initial roll-out of differentiated learning practices, an instructor’s continued use of these analytics enables ongoing assessment and adaptive, flexible differentiation as student skills and knowledge change over the course of the term. It makes possible differentiation based on an array of criteria, and solutions based on actual student skills, interests, readiness, and needs. 

Better DI Solutions Built on Ed Tech

Ed tech, like Omega Notes Collaborative Learning System, facilitates differentiated learning through task-driven, collaborative projects, and activities. When faculty use data-driven DI techniques such as these, the result is students’ more in-depth understanding of key concepts, a reduction of the forgetting curve, and more practice with real-world competencies that will benefit students post-college. 

Long-term Benefits

Not every learner performs best in a traditional lecture setting; by establishing several access points for engagement, an instructor makes it possible for students to “choose their own engagement” and pick up the material in the way that they naturally learn best. What’s more, students get reinforcement of concepts and skills through hands-on work and peer interaction that can boost their ability to communicate and problem-solve. As each student’s learning style can vary, working in groups can provide the right setting for students to learn from each other, too, strengthening conceptual and interpersonal connections in new and exciting ways. 

The nature of higher ed gathers together what in come cases is unlikely cohort as students bring diverse learning styles as well as educational and life experiences into the classroom with them. Differentiated learning that’s supported by ed tech analytics gives college instructors the tools that make it possible to develop effective differentiated learning strategies for classroom use. When students enjoy stronger engagement with what they’re learning, studies show it can lead to better student engagement and retention.

By Andrew Lang

1510, 2019

Develop Stronger Teaching Skills Through Ed Tech

By |October 15th, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

The changing nature of higher ed coupled with the widespread availability of content through myriad providers can lead to greater emphasis on pedagogy and student-centered learning, according to Dr. Beena Giridharan. But learning new ways of teaching and preparing new materials in response can be overwhelming, given a faculty member’s overall responsibilities (Loch & Reushle, 2008; Price & Oliver, 2007). Ed tech analytics allows educators to evaluate the ‘breadcrumbs’ left by student access and interaction with online course materials, improving efficiency and access to usable data. Use these analytics as an assessment tool not just to measure your students’ success but to improve your own critical thinking and professional skills.

Measure Student Engagement in Real-Time

Just a few years ago, most instructors had to take it mostly on faith that students did the assigned readings as outlined in the syllabus and fully understood the content; by the time final projects and exams came in, it was too late to intervene. But today, ed tech makes it possible for schools to better serve instructors and students by issuing student engagement analytics in real-time.

See where your students are connecting with the material and where those connections are weak. Ed tech analytics can reveal any need for differentiation. Drill down into ed tech analytic reports to identify the specifics of student needs, giving you the ability to provide differentiated learning where and when appropriate. Use this information to assess your selection and application of course material toward learning goals. Improve your teaching skills by modifying course content and format for acquisition of knowledge aligned with the digital learning styles of today’s students, like shorter attention spans and visual learning (Menon, 2016).

Harness Students’ Digital Skills for Learning

Shift your reliance from paper to digital content to assess students’ learning. The ubiquity of devices and online resources like ed tech gives students an expanded ability to create and produce original content that reflect what they’re learning in class. Drive competency through project-based learning and collaboration using devices and digital resources. To avoid doing so is like limiting your students to 15 miles per hour because you have a 10-speed bike when they can go 75 miles per hour on a motorbike; why hold them back?

Evaluate and Improve Your Own Digital Fluency

As ed tech becomes a greater part of your instruction, you may discover a need to increase your own familiarity and competence in technology to better meet students at their level of interest, access, and engagement. It’s easier to use ed tech as a teaching tool when you’re adept at using it. You may also discover an added benefit by connecting with peers who have similar interests or research specialties, improved efficiency in your own course preparation and delivery, or enhanced connections with your students which enriches classroom experiences for everyone.

Use ed tech and analytics as a tool to build your knowledge and skills specific to teaching while improving your engagement with your students. Ed tech offers unique insights on your students’ learning style and your teaching style. Reflect on these benchmarks and then take action based on data-driven hypotheses, with the benefit of ongoing ed tech analytics to compare term over term and year over year metrics for self-assessment.

By Andrew Lang

810, 2019

Using Ed Tech Analytics to Measure Student Engagement

By |October 8th, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Recent years have seen a considerable uptick in online learning as well as the availability of online course materials for student access; but access doesn’t equal engagement. So how can schools measure students’ academic interaction with available resources outside traditional classroom metrics? Ed tech analytics. They can provide actionable insight through customized reports measuring access, frequency, duration, and more. 

The Role of Engagement in Education Success

Studies suggest that strong student engagement positively correlates with student performance, as well as student retention and program completion. But engagement is often a subjective metric, and even regular tests and quizzes may only reflect a student’s ability to recite information. 

The kind of understanding and critical thinking required by final projects and exams provides evaluative data too late in the term to be useful for outreach to the struggling student. But by utilizing analytic tools offered by ed tech solutions, schools and instructors can evaluate students’ real-time experience through engagement analytics instead of waiting for delayed warning signals like final grades. 

And while discussions about student engagement and performance frequently focus on first-year students and their adjustment to a postsecondary learning environment, improved engagement can also benefit students who’ve advanced farther on their education path and are now mastering competency skills. Even in fields where competency is critical, like health sciences, ed tech can contribute to improved student engagement (Donkin, Askew & Stevenson, 2019). 

Use of Ed Tech Analytics in Real-Time

Ed tech platforms make collecting, aggregating, and analyzing student activity easy and accessible. Instructors can use analytics to explore student behaviors and identify areas of student needs, facilitating something close to real-time interventions for students at risk of falling behind or missing academic benchmarks. Instructors can better see how students engage with course material and tailor revisions to curriculum, lesson plans, and student activities accordingly. By delivering more time-sensitive and tailored interventions to meet the needs of individual students and their cohorts, faculty may help students avoid reaching a level of frustration that contributes to withdrawing from the course or school.

Long-Range Planning with Ed Tech Analytics

But it’s not enough to see that engagement is high or low. Analytics can also provide instructors with clues as to what’s working and what isn’t, showing them a path toward improvement. Going forward, instructors can use ed tech analytics for student engagement to revise curriculum, content, and course materials in future terms. Predictive analytics can better anticipate student behavior as well as learning challenges and opportunities. Ongoing data collection and analysis in the long term makes it possible to evaluate the influence of course changes in a meaningful and impartial way, seeing what’s working well and what isn’t, term over term and year over year. 

With more colleges and universities considering the implementation of ed tech platforms, questions also arise as to how much and how well students will actually use these resources. Choosing the right platform is important not only because of the quality of the resource itself but the quality of its analytic tools, too. Reliable and useful data enables instructors’ responsible and effective decision-making, from curriculum changes to early interventions based on student engagement, an important predictor of student success.

By: Andrew Lang

3009, 2019

Simplify Course Design at Your Institution

By |September 30th, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

In recent years, there has been a shift in higher education through the use of blended learning technologies. Some institutions in the industry have embraced this shift, but most colleges and universities have struggled to find a solution. This reality is largely lead by the fact that educators are finding it challenging to implement a comprehensive content solution which permits effective design of blended learning courses.

Instructional designers and instructors have difficulty transitioning and connecting between in-person lectures and online activities. This creates confusion with students, ultimately leading to students struggling to understand expectations in the courses. The lack of cohesion in these courses create an environment where students lose confidence in themselves as they’re trying to understand content.

Designers also struggle with the technological side of hybrid course design. Many systems that are used in higher education lack integration options due to the lack of Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and Application Program Interface (API) features.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to address these challenges. Omega Notes is an online collaborative learning system that may be integrated with any LTI or API. Omega Notes is also designed to simplify or surpass these common difficulties when preparing a hybrid course. With Omega Notes Insights, course designers can actively change their content approach at any level due to the availability of comprehensive learning analytics. This dramatically improves individual student level course design.

Omega Notes also allows all educators to create personalized eBooks and Course Packs for their students. Instructors can pick and choose from publications to create condensed eBooks that only contain content that is relevant to the course. This creates a more affordable and organized structure for the students to follow. Furthermore, it permits an organized course structure educators appreciation as it allows them to keep their finger on the pulse of their student’s successes and struggles. Keeping the instructors and students on the same page reduces the insecurities that students have with hybrid courses and improves learning outcomes.

By Brenden Thomas

1909, 2019

5 Key Factors To Consider When Looking For A Collaborative Learning System

By |September 19th, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Finding a solution to foster collaboration inside and outside of the classroom has always been a challenge in higher learning. Research has proven that academic experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned foster a deeper learning experience. While learning management systems (LMS) offer collaborative features, most students and faculty find the implementation to be shallow at best. Discussion boards and LMS group management tools can be a chore for everyone. These digital systems don’t bring students together in a meaningful capacity, and the system’s limitations force professors to design their curriculum entirely around the LMS.

Many educators have started implementing collaborative learning solutions via blended-learning environments into the classroom to overcome the limitations of an LMS. But that begs the question, with all of these solutions on the market, how do you choose the right one?

Ease Of Access

Many solutions are feature rich, but those features are useless if they’re not intuitive to use for both students or professors. Surprisingly, there can be a lack of focus in the design language of many digital learning solutions that end up creating a frustrating user experience. Make sure to ask for a demo account or a demonstration of both the student AND educator’s interface.

Cost Effectiveness

A digital system’s cost effectiveness can be easy to measure on the surface, but make sure to dig a little deeper. The ‘Freemium’ business model can be deceptive. The solution may offer a limited set of collaboration features at a decent price, but those features may be a more significant compromise than initially realized. In these situations, leveraging the full platform advertised eventually becomes prohibitively expensive. Make sure that the provider has a clear per student or flat rate pricing model that doesn’t require extra packages or service add ons.

Measurable Results

All collaborative learning systems will advertise that they work well in theory, but not all systems offer a metric to monitor success. A platform with actionable insights offers a level of accountability to ensure that the service lives up to bold marketing claims. Be on the lookout to avoid systems with limited, shallow, or cumbersome analytics.


This is a fundamental component when building a successful network of EdTech solutions. Interoperability is a characteristic that allows for the sharing of resources between different systems. A collaborative learning solution that doesn’t interface with an LMS makes for an extremely difficult implementation process to say the least.

Consolidating Systems

Technology is an essential component of the classroom and that trend is only going to move upwards. At times, this fast pace of innovation has left students and educators frustrated and grumbling, “Wait… you mean I have to learn how to use another system.” Often times service providers will offer a solution that consolidates multiple systems together into one cohesive system. Eliminating these content silos is a great way to get buy in from faculty and students.

Collaborative Learning Done The Right Way

When participating in collaborative learning, students work on assignments together while developing social skills that improve their relationships with others in the class. Instituting a collaborative learning solution allows students to engage and involve themselves more actively in the learning process rather than be passive students. Collaborative learning is great, but not all collaborative learning tools are created equally.

The Omega Notes Collaborative Learning System is a perfect example of a product that checks all of these boxes. The Omega platform engages students in a web app built for digital natives while working with publishers to obtain faculty selected content. As students are engaging, the Insights app explains student comprehension and behavior to preemptively identify unfavorable outcomes. Insights was designed specifically for educators in higher learning making for an easy learning curve. It’s rare to find an intuitive, cost effective solution that delivers actionable results while simplifying existing EdTech solutions. Make sure to consider looking at Omega Notes to maximize learning outcomes.

By Matthew Compton-Clark

1908, 2019

Affordability and Accessibility in EdTech

By |August 19th, 2019|Categories: Omega Notes|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

The financial costs of textbooks and course materials acts as one of the primary obstacles college students are forced to overcome in order to have a fully developed and successful education in the 21st century. A survey conducted by Morning Consult in July 2018 consisted of 1,651 current and former college students, which revealed that paying for course materials was the second most reported source of financial stress, second only to paying for tuition. That same survey reported that nearly 70% of the students had to get jobs in order to afford their class resources, more than 40% had to apply for loans, and more than 30% had to enroll in fewer classes than they wanted.

A major solution that educational institutions are looking towards to help college students overcome the affordability gap is edtech and digital resources. College administrators and faculty members are starting to partner with eLearning platforms to significantly lower costs for all students. eLearning platforms allow professors to post course materials and useful resources online, as well as record analytics on students’ study habits that allow them to send direct feedback to their professors.

Using digital solutions also have significant benefits that physical resources do not offer. A research article by Eun-Ok Baek and James Monaghan from California State University San Bernardino cover the key findings of the eTextbook pilot project conducted in Fall 2010. The project involved 33 courses in 5 different state university campuses incorporating eTextbooks, and having students recount their experiences using them, in which 662 student surveys were recorded. The most important finding was that the eTextbook’s cost, accessibility, light weight, and keyword search functions were the features that students found most appealing when using the eTextbook compared to a normal physical textbook.

The purpose of Omega Notes is to improve learning outcomes while keeping the costs of our services as low as possible. We believe that all students should have access to the resources and materials that will help prepare them for their future careers. Implementing Omega Notes tools in college courses can lessen the financial burdens of both students and institutions.

Professors can create interactive eBooks using Omega Notes Course Packs. Course Packs are designed to allow college faculty to fully customize their courses with required materials, textbooks, and other resources they feel will help students succeed in the class. By making a Course Pack digitally available to all the students taking a specific class, the course materials become more accessible and much more affordable compared to purchasing physical resources.

By Jeffrey Chin

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