Qrumbs proposal to Digital Media and Learning Competition

The MacArthur Foundation is sponsoring a competition for innovative Digital Media and Learning applications. I had learned of it through my colleague Derek Lomas who won last year for his Playpower project.

This year the applications are posted online with open commenting. The word limit on applications is 300 words (not the abstract, the whole application) which makes it easy for anyone to read through it and give feedback. It also makes it easier to write one and they have over 1,000 submissions last I checked. Judges will select which entries advance to the second phase for which a demo video is required.

With research partners I proposed Qrumbs, a system for social collaborative learning around any web resource. I’m glad to be working with Connexions, Curriki, and the PSLC DataShop, leaders in open educational resources and educational data mining. Below the fold is the full text of the proposal, springing from my work in question authoring. With so few words to work with, I used a narrated scenario to communicate concisely how the system works. I’m including the full text below and encourage you to leave comments both here, or even better on the application’s page.

Qrumbs: Collaborative reflective learning and self-assessment on any web page

Qrumbs turns questions into social media to help learners reflect upon and improve their understanding of anything on the web, including videos, books, articles and individual blog pages. The web is becoming a vast learning environment in which youth can easily reach the information they seek. Qrumbs completes the pedagogical picture with assessment, providing a data-based laboratory for learners, teachers and researchers.

Consider Catrina, who is writing an essay on eradicating malaria. She finds a video of Bill Gates’ TED talk and watches it. To check whether she understood the key points, she clicks the Qrumbs button in her browser and answers the highest rated questions that pop up. Some questions challenge her and she reviews the video. Some are multiple choice and she receives immediate detailed feedback on her answers. Some are funny and she smiles. To learn more she reads Wikipedia on malaria, scrolling to the relevant section. Clicking Qrumbs shows no questions on this piece. She thinks about her favorite questions from the TED page and clicks to add her own.

With Qrumbs helping her focus and reflect, she writes her essay and forgets about it. Two weeks later, she gets an e-mail from Qrumbs, “What do you remember?” She clicks the link and answers the questions again. She then sees a comparison of her answers from now and before. She’s glad she retained most of what she learned and posts it to Facebook, challenging her friends to match her. She sees comments on the questions she wrote and some new additions which she also answers. Her teachers begin using Qrumbs with free online textbooks at the start and end of lessons, mixing select student questions with their own.

Qrumbs builds on the QCommons, Curriki, Connexions, and DataShop platforms, and a decade of experience programming web-based tools for learning.