Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tom Malloy and Jake Jensen

Introductory Statistics Online: The Journey from Classroom to Open

Tom Malloy and Jake Jensen, University of Utah

Friday, September 30, 2005, 11:00-11:45 am
201 Eccles Conference Center

mp3 podcast

Gary “ Jake ” Jensen is the Java programmer, database designer, and systems administrator for all of these online projects. Tom Malloy, who is responsible for pedagogical software design, has taught statistics, graduate and undergraduate, since 1968 winning numerous teaching awards along the way. Tom began developing electronic materials for an Introductory Statistics classroom course in 1994 and Jake joined the team in 1997 when we began posting them online. By the summer of 2000 we launched a highly automated, database driven online course including video-game like learning environments that has successfully served thousands of students. Psychology 3000 Online was originally funded by the Utah Higher Education Technology Initiative (HETI) as StatCenter, a comprehensive and integrated suite of software programs providing online resources for learning and teaching statistics meant to add value to online educational resources through interactive new media such as the Utah Virtual Lab. The Utah Virtual Lab (Malloy & Jensen, 2001) allows instructors to build virtual realities based on statistical relations among research variables that their students can then explore and, by discovery processes, fi nd its principles. We make the argument that such new media interactivity which can teach deductive and inductive logic as well as statistical reasoning (Malloy, 2001) actually delivers value added educational experiences that classroom and even one-on-one teaching cannot provide. In this paper we will provide a brief tour of this course in its OCW form.

In 2001 Tom joined the original Merlot editorial board as chief editor for the Psychology collection to develop standards and peer review processes for shared learning materials (Malloy & Hanley, 2001). In 2003 we proposed a Shared Course Center at the University of Michigan Open Courseware Workshop. The idea was (and is with COSL) that a shared course center would include all that is implied in the textbook metaphor along all the possibilities implied by computer enhanced learning objects and database interactivity. With a fully open, shared course and resources from communities such as MERLOT and SMETE, even teachers with minimal computer literacy and minimal technical support would be able to use their substantial array of 112 teaching skills to do what they now do in the classroom - create a customized online learning context in service of their personal teaching vision. This is a value-added alternative to textbooks as the central organizing principle for courses: computer-based, new media online materials that go well beyond what can be taught with the classic printed textbook.

The Introductory Statistics course required that we build, de facto, a full Learning Management System; moreover other teachers frustrated by the costs and limitations of commercial LMS’s asked to have their course resources served through out system. As a result we built the open source Open Learning Management System (OLMS) and posted it on SourceForge. Malloy, Jensen, Regan, and Reddick, 2002 summarize the advantages of an LMS that has no licensing fees, is responsive to the design needs of local teachers, and is not constrained by the business plan of a large corporation.

In many ways higher education, while it deeply values open and shared knowledge generated by its research mission, has not valued, in the same way, open and shared knowledge generated by its teaching mission. We have experienced little enthusiasm for supporting the shared knowledge proposals that we have put forth over the years, at least until we met with the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning. Currently, in the summer of 2005, we are negotiating with a Mexican University to share the Introductory Statistics course and possibly produce a Spanish language version. We are also working with the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning to realize, fi nally, the dream of shared courseware that we began developing for the HETI grant in 1997. It is a genuine pleasure to participate in this effort with people who are enthusiastic for what we think is the future in higher education.


Malloy, T. E. (2001). Difference to Inference: Teaching logical and statistical reasoning through online interactivity. Behavior Research Methods Instruments & Computers, 33, 270-273.
Malloy, T. E. & Hanley, G. L. (2001). MERLOT: A faculty-focused website of educational resources. Behavior Research Methods Instruments & Computers, 33, 274-276.
Malloy, T. E. & Jensen, G. C. (2001). Utah Virtual Lab: JAVA interactivity for teaching science and statistics online. Behavior Research 113 Methods Instruments & Computers, 33, 282-286.
Malloy, T. E., Jensen, G. C., Regan, A., & Reddick, M. (2002). Open courseware and shared knowledge in higher education. Behavior Research Methods Instruments & Computers, 34, 200-203.
Gordon, E. O. & Malloy, T. E. (2002). Online Homework/Quiz/Exam Applet: Freely available Java software for evaluating performance online. Behavior Research Methods Instruments & Computers, 34, 241-244.


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