LabXchange

Part
01
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Part
01

LabXChange-Analysis

LabXchange enables clients to discover and test scientific processes through world-class digital content. The company has a platform that seamlessly integrates learning and research experiences. This research gives a detailed analysis of company LabXChange, including how it came about, what it does, and what it plans to do among others.

Methodology

To give a full analysis of LabXChange, we used the company's websites plus the provided article. In addition, we did an analysis of its contribution to MOOCs and Online Education. Most of the information requested was found on the company's official website. We also searched for news or any published articles in websites of education institutions like Amgen Foundation and Harvard. These also gave important information especially from interviews given by LabXChange's CEO.

We also searched LabXChange's social media pages like Twitter as well as the developer's website to see if there is any information published about LabXChange. Additionally, we also looked at Ed Surge's website much deeper to get more information about LabXchange's contribution to MOOCs and Online Learning and how the company has disrupted the education sector. After a deep analysis of Ed Surge's website, we established that LabXchange is one of the emerging disruptive trend in the U.S education sector. Below is a detailed report of our findings.

OVERVIEW

As part of its plan to foster a new generation of scientists around the world, LabXchange is building an open online platform that will be used for science education. The technology is being built on Open-Source edX Platforms. The company released the project prototype in 2018 and an official is expected later this year. The platform will mainly publish curated content from reputable institutions and qualified educators.

OPEN SOURCE EDX PLATFORM

LabXchange is built on OpenEdX, a leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform. The company also uses a software from edX.og, which is used by over 1.4 million learners. The platform is highly scalable and has a big collection of science content that is useful to LabXchange users.

WHAT LabXchange DOES

LabXChange aims to build an online digital platform that will enable learners to learn as well as carry out experiments in virtual laboratories. The process will include a short re-mixable pathway of content or activities created or shared by users.

The company allows students to access real research with accompanying experiments. On the other hand, the platform allows teachers or instructors to model the scientific processes and design custom programs for students.

Finally, the company offers a level ground for financially and geographically challenged students to attain their dream of becoming scientists by offering them easy access to a laboratory. LabXchange integrates background curriculum with dynamic experimental simulations as well as social networking to expose students to challenging environments that ignites their urge for scientific discovery.

HOW DID IT COME ABOUT

The raise in access of the internet around the world has allowed free flow of digital content, some of which is low-quality and misleading. LabXchange was developed as an alternative to offer quality content from highly reliable and reputable sources. This is achieved through innovative platforms and strategic partnerships that create a path for global scientific collaboration and learning.

LabXChange was developed by the partnership of Harvard University and the Amgen Foundation, which funded the platform. Amgen Foundation offered Harvard University a $6.5 Million grant to develop the LabXChange project.

HOW IT WORKS

The system works by displaying a list of videos, infographics, text descriptions, and other relevant material for any topic keyed in. The user then picks those resources that are useful and relevant. The system also allows users to add their own videos and texts and provided with unique links to share with students.

LabXChange's future plan

According to Robert Lue, one of the founding members of LabXchanges, the platform will be a prototype for a next-generation learning platform. He adds that future versions will be improved and will include adaptive learning features to offer students different materials according to their skill levels.

LabXchange and Open edX are jointly working on a new system called Blockstore, which store learning materials to support pathways in Open edX. LabXchange is expected to expand the horizons of science education by allowing access to virtual laboratories.

TRENDS DISRUPTING EDUCATION RIGHT NOW

  • The Internet
The internet has enabled access to MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), BYOD/Smartphone Integration, Informal & Self-Directed Learning Platforms, new learning models, and growth of “homeschooling” and flipped class rooms.

Online and mobile technologies have emerged and greatly disrupted the education sector in many ways. Initially, educational content used to be in the hands of a teacher or professor only but due to online technology, content is readily available even to those who have not been to any brick-and-motar school. Online technology has people to develop tools that connect people on a digital platform while building an online community that also has an impact on social behavior.

WHY LABXCHANGE IS POTENTIALLY DISRUPTIVE TO EDUCATION

Being one of the new learning models, LabXchange is regarded very disruptive to the education sector. It is an internet-based mini-MOOC with a combination of self-directed learning platforms. LabXchange is also expected to offer free access to science content, a trend that will be very disruptive to the educational system.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

LabXChange Platform-Peer to Peer MOOCs

The platform model LabXChange could feasibly lead to a peer-to-peer education model rather than an institutionally operated model since it adheres to the same structure of MOOCs, or online interactive courses, providing group participation for education and open knowledge sharing from peers in the same fields and/or various academic levels.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

Initial research was performed to find publicly available analyses or official statements that the LabXChange platform would begin to offer peer-to-peer education or evolve towards it. Our search focused on the company's website, their official press releases, technology education news websites like EdSurge and EdTechReview, as well as Harvard news, science and education news and government websites like Cambridge, US National Library of Medicine, the US Department of Education, the AMGEN Foundation, and Riffle Learning. This search brought a lot of information about the anticipation that the LabXChange platform is generating, the information about the platform itself, and its evolution from a fully MOOC method as ‘EdX’ to a new model. This search, however, provided no information about peer-to-peer education being a part of the platform in the future.
Many of the new features shown through the initial search showed traits of a peer-to-peer structure. To confirm, the definition of a peer-to-peer education model was referenced, including the characteristics of already established peer-to-peer education practices. The objective was to compare any resemblance or potential for peer-to-peer model adoption in the LabXChange platform. With the findings, a reasonable assumption could be made through the triangulation of both the platform's information and the following logic:
Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is an already established peer-to-peer education platform. As such, they have two basic characteristics, an educational model based on learning and participation in courses with others that could be students or anyone else with knowledge, with or without a clear authority and/or previous education in similar educational interests. After this, a comparison was made to peer-to-peer education models with the current LabXChange platform that showed extensive similarities.
As a conclusion, although LabXChange makes no specific mention of moving toward a peer-to-peer model, their model description is currently similar to already established peer-to-peer education models and has likely already decreased emphasis on traditional, institutionally led MOOCs.

FINDINGS

LABXCHANGE AND MOOC MODEL

LabXChange was originally built with an MOOC model where the courses would be available online and taught by professionals. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) allow multiple people to listen to the same class through internet and video recording. MOOCs are often free and allow education to be accessed globally. They also use different techniques to get students to practice the lessons and then provide feedback. Although MOOCs are an improvement from online reading courses because they offer video explanations, they're not considered high-quality for learning purposes because of the long hours required to watch videos without an online certification, and they fail to keep people interested.
For the same reason, the completion rate of these courses stands at 5%, even when they're free. Some universities offer a variation of MOOCs named Online Professional Courses (OPCs) that provide certification, but they have enrollment limits and are expensive. Harvard's MOOC model platform was called EdX and they were one of the first universities to adopt this model. The new version of Harvard's EdX MOOC platform, called LabXChange, intends to keep the best features of EdX and adapt to new teaching options, allowing teachers to combine different courses and provide more personalized videos to students.

PEER-TO-PEER EDUCATION MODEL

The peer-to-peer education model refers to the method in which users or students can teach and learn from one another, while none of them is the group or team authority. With this, students can participate in activities with their peers and explain their own knowledge to others. P2PU is an example of an online peer-to-peer education model platform, and from this example, the peer-to-peer education platform has two characteristics, providing a place where students can learn from each other through courses, and maintaining a space to share, participate and organize in groups of interest through an open community.
Once attending the course, an educator or a person managing/leading the group can invite people to discuss the topics through collaboration. The course owner can also track attendance, make use of features and options to share or invite more people to the discussions or to learn. These platforms also make use of messages and chats to allow communication in real-time, making the education more efficient by allowing for active clarification and answers to student questions. Through this method, the platform allows educators to provide access to materials and educational content at a low cost, or even free. Any topic or knowledge sharing can be available through this method, including through other uses and traditional/high-level education experts.
The new LabXChange platform contains many of the courses that were available as MOOCs in EdX. LabXChange was created to allow professors and any other user to create and mix courses to present online. As opposed to the previous MOOC model, the new platform is not intended to be fully focused on specific courses, but adds greater means of participation. This sharing aspect of the platform is still in process, but invites for students are already available to create and publish content. This is aimed at greater interactivity for students.
The platform allows for collaborative problem solving in practice, and is openly available and free of charge. Users have the option to share in private, in groups, or in open discussions with following feedback. This platform provides students and educators with personal profiles, further specifying their interests and educational goals, including the ability to create custom interest groups.
A unique designation for course teachers is ‘collaborators’ that range from professional teachers, undergraduate students, assistants, Ph.D candidates, and anyone that meets the requirements of a particular field of knowledge. With this, collaborators can create custom teaching material and courses with the ability to join any learning group or network of students.

CONCLUSION

With a particularly similar base educational model through previous MOOC usage, LabXChange may very likely move towards a fully peer-to-peer model, or include these manners of education as a primary focus in their developing platform.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "LabXChange is built on top of Open edX, one of the leading massive open online course (MOOC) platforms and the same software which is used by more than 14 million learners on edX.og. It uses Open edX since it's proven, scalable and has a rich collection of science content on its platform which is significant to users of LabXchange."
  • "LabXChange will open new ways for learners to learn and do science in virtual labs include a short re-mixable pathway of content or activities which users can create for themselves or share if they want. "
  • "Open edX emphasizes learning of large courses which students are enrolled and finish through a span of weeks. Blockstore is a new system for storing learning content in Open edX which is currently being built by LabXchange in partnership with OpenCraft and ofcourse edX to allow it to support "pathways"."
  • "It plans to design and build tagging & search services which will put simple yet powerful content discovery at the forefront. "
Quotes
  • "At LabXchange, they are working to build an open online platform that can be used mainly in science education while reaching their goal to foster a new generation of scientists throughout the world."
  • "LabXchange is aware of the fact that access to the internet with the use of mobile devices paved the way for a ton of digital media to become available to users which has also unleashed low-quality content that are often misleading. "
  • "LabXchange aims to increase critical as they stand against the emergence of fake news. Although the developers are aware of the difficulties they will be facing in building a platform that strives to create a global impact, they still believe that a combination of innovative platform and a strategic partnership would create a path to empower a collaborative and global learning community that strives to focus scientifically."
Quotes
  • "LabXchange is an online platform for global science education which will facilitate the discovery of an authentic experience for its user. Additionally, it allows the creation and curation of world-class digital content which is delivered on this platform wherein the exchange of learning and research experiences is being integrated. "
Quotes
  • "Amgen Foundation and Harvard University is responsible for developing a science education platform that focuses on biology and offers digital instruction, virtual lab experiences, opportunities to collaborate and mentor high school and college students. "
  • "This platform is set to launch this 2019 and will allow aspiring lab scientists to get free lab access online. "
Quotes
  • "As a founding sponsor, Amgen Foundation contributes $6.5 Million grant funding to Harvard University to develop, launch and grow the LabXchange platform for both teachers and students all around the world. "
  • "LabXchange is a technology that is built on Open-Source edX Platforms, an interactive platform, which is said to level the playing field for aspiring scientists. "
  • "One of the most central aspects of becoming a scientist is being able to work in a laboratory and unfortunately there are numerous students who don't have access to a laboratory due to financial or geographic limitations. "
  • "LabXchange addresses this issue with a platform that integrates dynamic experimental simulations with background curriculum and social networking — all created to more effectively expose students of varying backgrounds to the authentic and engaging experience of scientific discovery."
  • "LabXchange is the solution to this problem through its platform which has been created to effectively expose students of varied backgrounds to the real feeling and experience of scientific discovery."
Quotes
  • "Inside a virtual lab environment, students can gain access to real research while trying to recreate an experiment that generates it. Teachers can easily model the scientific process so their students can easily theorize, test and process. "
  • "With this environment, students are allowed to retrace their steps and try again if they fail. Robert Bradway, Amgen's CEO, said that advances in technology are not only focused on the development and delivery of innovative medicines to patients but it is also through how the next generation of scientists are educated and inspired. "
  • "LabXchange is built on top of the edX platform, a learning community with more than 35 million users all around the world."
Quotes
  • "Nowadays, we hear a lot of information on how massive open online courses have failed to deliver their promise to educate the masses. Undeniably though, this open online courses has created a lot of high-quality teaching material. "
  • "Robert Lue, a founding faculty director of HarvardX and a biology professor at Harvard who's also leading the new platform called LabXchange says that the secret to innovation lies in letting people gain smaller pieces within themselves and to stop giving too much focus on courses. "
  • "The system is said to work by pulling up a list of videos, text descriptions, infographics and other relevant material for something that you want to do. From those resources, you can then pick those that are most relevant then add a case study which actually focuses on what you want. Additionally, you can add your own videos and texts while being presented with a unique web address that you can share with students resulting to a mini-MOOC."
  • "Lue hopes that LabXChange system will be a prototype for a next-generation learning platform, and that future versions could include adaptive learning features that would offer students different material based on their demonstrated skill level. "
Quotes
  • "Disruption is about shifting power, an eroding pattern and breaking the system. Disruption in education comes in the most unlikely of sources. Oftentimes, disruption in education doesn't always come from the most powerful technology or the most noble intents. "
  • "It is quite impossible to predict what will work and what's not as there are a lot of moving parts. Hence, a scale has been created to visually demonstrate the inherent disruptive potential of recent and current education initiatives or technological advancements."
  • "Some of the trends that include those that are disrupting education right now is The Internet, New Learning Models, Informal & Self-Directed Learning Platforms, BYOD/Smartphone Integration, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), Service-Based Learning/Place-Based Education, Growth of “Homeschooling”, and Flipped Classroom to list a few. "
Quotes
  • "The emergence of online and mobile technologies have disrupted the education landscape as it has provided students with a means to learn on their own. "
  • "Online technology made educational content accessible to those who have not gone to traditional schools. Additionally it has allowed individuals to build tools connecting people by digital means and build global online communities which has shaped our social behavior. "
  • "Online learning has spread beyond the walls of traditional educational institutions. Online courses are now being showcased by an institution’s teaching quality and opened new discussions as to what quality educational experiences can look like."
  • "MOOC-based learning for a future workforce and A values-driven, practical education—online. Education systems should now expand its offering outside of just subject knowledge to include a broader range of characteristics such as emotional intelligence and ethical understanding."
  • "Universities should now prepare students with practical skills should not just be a part of an institution’s learning strategy but also become a part of business performance strategy, with a focus on lifelong learning."
Quotes
  • "MOOC is a term that originated in the United States in 2008 and used to refer to massive open online courses. These are free, easily accessible and completely online courses which gives you a chance to study in top universities throughout the world, at the comfort of your own home. "
  • "You can't expect MOOCs to lead to formal qualifications although it allows you to learn a lot of information regarding numerous industries. MOOCs can be used to develop career skills and prepare for other education or pursue a new interest. "
  • "MOOCs are usually run numerous times each year with a specific start and finish date. The use of online media and interactive tools to interact with university educators and other learners is common in MOOCs. This might include video lectures, articles, discussions, assignments and social networking."
  • "Fanuel Muindi, leader of the nonprofit Stem Advocacy Institute stated that Science is much more than just facts and numbers, it’s about the people who do the work."
Quotes
  • "Education has been given a whole new meaning through the dynamic digital world that we are currently a part of. Thus, Blackboard, chalks, textbooks and ink pens are now slowly becoming a thing of a past."
  • "Education has now crossed borders and opened up a world of different opportunities for students with the help of technology. Nowadays, through the use of apps we can easily share information and collaborate with anyone, anytime, anywhere."
  • "Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has allowed slow learners to gain prominence. Students are now capable of picking their lessons at a pace they are comfortable with, using the right mix of technology and devices. Customized learning is now ruling the world of education with the help of AI and machine learning. "