Learning from Experiments in Outcome Linking

by: Brandon Pousley

As the TLL portfolio grows, so too does the diversity of digital learning experiences we produce. Some experiences exist at the course level. Many more, however, are intentionally modular — comprised of unique multimedia, web, document, curriculum, and assessment objects. This modularity enables reusability, which supports flexibility in implementation and ample return on investment. However, as the MIT Office of Digital Learning is discovering, it can also support learner agency, informed instructional decision-making, and effective business development.

Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Karen Wilcox, MIT Professor and co-Chair of the MIT Online Education Policy Initiative, present on MIT’s efforts to develop systems to map undergraduate learning outcomes and link curricular topics and resources. Through a real-time, guided exploration of these existing and emerging systems, I caught a glimpse of the impact that such well-connected, open, and adaptable tools can have.

Learner Agency

MIT Crosslinks ScreenshotCrosslinks is a wiki-style “MIT study site.” It features a visual map of undergraduate curricular ‘nodes,’ indicating dependencies, relationships, and sequence among topics. Clicking on any individual node displays a dashboard of information for the topic including MIT-produced and external resources and information. The resources are organized within ‘learning facets:’ prepare, learn, relate, advance, and apply. Perhaps most interestingly, the platform’s tagline is ‘by MIT students, for MIT students.’ By providing a visual content map of topics, students are able to collaboratively build a community of curated resources, encouraging learner agency and collective understanding.

Instructional Decision-Making

Where Crosslinks serves as a student-driven resource in support of effective study, Xoces — or the Outcome Exploration System — provides an interactive map of learning outcomes across various undergraduate programs. This service enables the viewing of relationships among outcomes, providing a view of ‘institutional, departmental, subject and individual module levels.’ Administratively, this enables the identification of instructional gaps within programs and opportunities for effective prerequisites and sequences of content. Instructionally, this enables informed curriculum development and modularization of learning.

Business Development

The data structures and adaptable technologies that both Crosslinks and Xoces are built upon are fueling the engine behind Fly-by-Wire — a blended learning platform designed for scalability and instructional differentiation. Dependent on the same core principles that enables Crosslinks and Xoces to impact teacher impact and student mastery, this new system seeks to deliver on the promise of educational technology: providing an adaptable and intelligent, teacher-driven, but student-centered learning platform that enables all learners to achieve outcomes.

TLL Implications

As both the TLL and HGSE explore new learning designs and expanded modalities for teaching and learning, and continue to develop and evaluate the impact of instructional assets, we can benefit from the important work being done within groups like the MIT Office of Digital Learning. Specifically, leveraging student insight and experience in the curation of curricular assets, providing accessible and rich outcome maps for instructors, and developing resources in a way that can be leveraged by future programs and platforms ensures a realization of the core TLL principles of scalability, reusability, and impact.

See also: Event, Technology