Research at Grockit

While we'd like to believe that everything that we've built at Grockit is the first of its kind, the methodologies and technologies of the Grockit learning platform rest on a large body of existing research developed over several decades. Below is a overview of ways in which we draw on, participate in, and contribute back to these research communities. For more information on this, please contact research@grockit.com.


Foundations

Grockit offers learners three different modes of study: individual practice, peer group sessions (modeled as a virtual study group), and instructor-led lessons. These three modes of learning can be mapped to three corresponding subfields of research on technology in education. The tools that we build and techniques that we adopt are informed by the findings emerging from these research communities:



Solo Practice

Research in Artificial Intelligence in Education and Intelligent Tutoring Systems informs the "solo practice" activities in Grockit, where the focus is squarely on creating adaptive systems and algorithms that customize the learning experience to meet the needs of the individual learner. The techniques that we use for adaptive question selection in all solo games (including our CAT diagnostics and customized challenges) draw on work in this field.

Group Study

Research in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning informs the "group study" activities in Grockit, with the focus on identifying how to better facilitate and support productive collaborations among peer learners. We have several related initiatives currently under review, include a peer-tutoring program and a software agent designed to prompt discussion, questions, and explanations among peers.

Instructor-led lessons

The technologies and structures that we have built into the "instructor-led lessons" in Grockit are informed by work in the E-Learning field on how to effectively teach online. In addition to the shared whiteboard available in group study games, Grockit instructors can easily incorporate shared slides, real-time shared text editing, audio conferencing, and other synchronous collaboration tools into the Grockit experience.

Publications

We actively participate in a number of research communities by organizing workshops, peer-reviewing and publishing papers, and sponsoring conferences. As we develop new algorithms and techniques, we have shared our experiences and findings with others by publishing and presenting at a number of recent academic conferences and workshops.



Unpublished report

Does Peer Collaboration Increase Engagement in an Online Learning Environment?

AIED-2011: 15th International Conference on AI in Education

A Comparison of the Effects of Nine Activities within a Self-Directed Learning Environment on Skill-Grained Learning.
In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Articial Intelligence in Education (AIED-2011), Springer.

LAK-2011: 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge

Evolving a Learning Analytics Platform. (To be published in the ACM International Conference Proceedings Series)

2011 (Unpublished report)

Methodologies and Technologies of the Grockit Learning Platform

ITS-2010: Workshop on Opportunities for Adaptive Behavior in Collaborative Learning Systems

Combining Peer-Assistance and Peer-Assessment in a Synchronous Collaborative Learning Activity.
Workshop held in conjunction with the 10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS-2010).

GLS-2010: Games, Learning and Society conference

Collaborative Learning Games in the Virtual Classroom: Piloting Grockit at Florida Virtual School. A joint presentation with Florida Virtual School.

ELEARN-2009: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education

Interaction Synchronicity in Web-based Collaborative Learning Systems.

AIED-2009: Workshop on Intelligent Educational Games

Incorporating Game Mechanics into a Network of Online Study Groups.
Workshop held in conjunction with the 14th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED-2009).

Collaborations

Grockit researchers have collaborated on projects with researchers at a variety of educational institutions.



With the Researcher & Discovery team at Florida Virtual School
We were named as a Finalist in the Gates Foundation-funded Next Generation Learning Challenges for a project designed to demonstrate and measure the impact of Grockit's collaborative learning platform for students pursuing self-paced coursework in a virtual school setting.
With researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Arizona State University
Building on the success of the 2010 workshop (below), we collaborated with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Arizona State University in organizing a workshop at the Fifteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED-2011) on Opportunities for Intelligent Behavior in Collaborative Learning Systems.
With researchers at Carnegie Mellon University
We co-organized a workshop at the 10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS-2010) on Opportunities for adaptive behavior in collaborative learning systems.
With the Researcher & Discovery team at Florida Virtual School
We have been working closely with the Research and Discovery Team at Florida Virtual School on a study in which students piloted the use of Grockit as a supplement to the school's Algebra I curriculum.
With PhD students at University of California - Berkeley and University of Kentucky
Grockit offers a competitive annual doctoral research internship program for a graduate student pursuing study in the learning sciences. In the summer of 2010, a doctoral student in education at the University of California, Berkeley with a focus on educational measurement and evaluation joins us. In the summer of 2009, a doctoral student in educational psychology at the University of Kentucky, joined us to work on applications of Item Response Theory models.
With researchers at Rice University
We collaborated with a researcher at Rice University on a proposal to build a collaborative question authoring activity within Grockit that interacts with a well-established Open Educational Resource repository.

Applications

We have identified a few contexts in which learners might benefit from Grockit's platform, and have actively sought out opportunities to test the platform in each environment.



With standardized curricula (e.g. state standards, standardized tests)
The first learning community that Grockit established was for individuals studying for the GMAT exam. As with the other exam-centered networks in Grockit, the GMAT network primarily consists of individuals who are working -- often in isolation -- towards a well-defined goal. Since the same learning goal is shared by a large number of students, Grockit's live collaborative learning networks offer a venue for peer-assisted study and real-time assistance that is active around-the-clock.
In virtual schools and online learning programs
A virtual school can offer a student the ability to complete a course on their own schedule, from any location. The challenge in providing a flexible, individualized learning environment is that students may feel disconnected from each other, and can miss the opportunity to learn from interactions with their peers. Grockit can fill this gap by extending the benefits of social and collaborative learning to the geographically-dispersed students in a virtual school. We recently piloted usage of Grockit within the Algebra I curriculum at Florida Virtual School.
For out-of-school learning
Learning need not be limited to the school day. Many parents and students may be interested in pursuing opportunities outside of the classroom, where there may be a lack of instructional expertise. By letting these students to study online with their peers, they benefit from a social learning environment and the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate responses. Grockit ran a Summer Academy in 2010 that includes Math and English Language Arts curricula for students in Grades 8-12.
For hyper-specialized study
In long-tail domains characterized by a small number of learners interested in a specific area of study, Grockit offers a venue for learners to meet and to author their own study materials. In 2009, a group of neuropsychologists used Grockit's platform as a tool to help them study for the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology's examination.

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