by Stephen Downes
Jul 22, 2015
Big Data, Learning Analytics and Distance Education
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya,
Terry Anderson remains optimistic about learning analytics, but the two concerns he cites in this short post are more interesting (quoted):
- The first challenge stems from the ownership of this data... This is especially egregious when the data collected and analyzed is not made available to those who created it.
- Secondly, as researchers at Microsoft Research danah boyd and Kate Crawford noted, learning analytics currently suffers from the delusion 'that large data sets offer a higher form of intelligence and knowledge... with the aura of truth, objectivity, and accuracy.' (but the) belief in 'truth, objectivity and accuracy' is far from proven.
The thing with big data, to my mind, is that it is shallow data. It captures details about many users, but only their use of one or a few applications. Getting deeper knowledge would require more and more egregious breaches of privacy. But so long as the data remain shallow, it remains prone to confirmation bias, as researchers find in the data what they data were designed to show.
Study of colleges shows ‘encouraging’ texts dramatically cut dropout rates
I think I want to see a few more studies before jumping to conclusions here, but wouldn't it be funny if the retention problem could be solved (or substantially impacted) simply by sending encouraging text messages? The tests so far show a 7 percent increase in class attendance, and that those who were not sent the encouraging texts were 36 percent more likely to drop out. Of course, any good plan can be undermined, as for example by David Corke (pictured), director of education and skills policy for the Association of Colleges, who hastens to tell us "in some cases a GCSE is not appropriate and a more applied qualification would most benefit the student and their future career." I wonder what the impact of receiving a text message saying that would be. Nice guy.
A Master List of 1,150 Free Courses From Top Universities: 35,000 Hours of Audio/Video Lectures
At a certain point, pundits will stop saying there's a shortage of open learning resources out there, and will begin thinking about how to use what already exists in courses (hint: cMOOCs). "Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone."
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