Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Learning Impact Awards Announced!

by Gina Howard and James Willis

This year saw the 9th annual worldwide Learning Impact Awards competition put on by IMS Global Consortium. The Learning Impact Awards program encourages and recognizes the exploration and use of technology in diverse contexts within educational institutions where observable and measurable results have been achieved. A panel of expert evaluators select the winners using a series of rubrics to evaluate eight dimensions for improving teaching and learning impact. Given the recent partnership between IMS and Mozilla Open Badge, we were pleased to see that badges were central to the efforts of at least one of the winners.

This year, medal winners will receive Learning Impact Award Badges that link to specific evidence. This may be IMS Global's first exploration into using badges since the announcement of their partnership with Mozilla Open Badges. In their blog, they write, "IMS is actively moving on plans in this area [badging] to be highlighted at this year’s Learning Impact." It will be exciting to see what these badges look like and how they function in the context of the Learning Impact Awards Program.

Of the 16 innovative finalists from K-20 institutions and education technology organizations, eight winners were chosen during the final round of the competition. The awards were presented during the Learning Impact Leadership Institute, May 4-7, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.The top two winners, in the Platinum category, were Open Assessment Technologies S.A (OAT) and Education Services Australia.

OAT developed an open source assessment platform called TAO. Since this platform is open source, users can modify it to fit their personal needs with add-ons and plugins. Tao is Question and Test Interoperability-compliant and allows users to import existing assessments. Since TAO is online, users can easily implement BYOD test solutions and scale tests from classroom to national with no problem. Their advanced system has a built-in fail-safe to ensure no test data is lost and users can continue where they left off.

Education Services Australia created an interactive Language Learning Space to help students learn Chinese, Indonesian, and Japanese in an immersive "graphic novel" environment. This environment not only looks and reads like a graphic novel, it also has activities and assessments built into it and functions as a content management system and learning management system.

Common themes throughout the competition were assessment tools and platforms. Educational Testing Services (ETS) developed new content authoring tools while Escambia County School District replaced their assessment tools with a system that would allow for synchronization and user access across the district. Further information about this year's winners is available here.  

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