Tag Archives: education

The Future of Education? Algorithms and Behavioral Analytics

9 Jul

Algorithmic_CEO_FINALThere is a lot of talk going around about the digital take over–the rise of the algorithms, and the impact they are having on the world of work. While that is a real consideration, the core of this conversation, for some, is education—and the massive need for an educational overhaul that provides utility to human capital in this human vs machine workforce debate.

These days, there is a demand for a different type of education than in years gone by. We’re moving into an era of computer science and engineering, but educational institutions are scrambling. There isn’t enough Faculty to teach the thousands of students beating down university doors.  Code.org and other MOOCs are rising to the occasion, offering educational resources to students willing to put in the time for a certification outside of the standard brick and mortal collegiate forum.

There is value here. But there are also challenges. In a classroom setting an educator can (attempt to) keep tabs on the student population, noting who is connecting with the material, who is engaged, who is struggling but trying. In the world of MOOCs where 43,000 students are signed up for a single course, there is no realistic way an educator can provide personalized attention to each student. With abysmal completion rates—6.5%–educators and researchers are scrambling to find ways to engage this new population of learners.

MIT and Harvard, among others are working to enrich the scope of learning for the online student population. Why are students failing to complete an online educational course—even if it’s offered for free from a top University?  Could it be that, debatably, some of the best educators in the world are simply inefficient in an online forum?  Studies are quick to point out the flaws of the student population. They study less frequently than students in a classroom setting. But Why? And how to we improve it?

I’ve been thinking about educators as account managers.  Each student is a portfolio with unlimited potential in the marketplace.  So could we focus on making the right connections between account manager educators and the students they are managing?  Companies like Mattersight provide revolutionary behavioral analytics insights that can match customers to the best representative for their communication style and need. RedOwl provides information on changes in behavior patterns, proactively notifying an organization of internal risks. Imagine the implications of these software platforms aligned for educational development.

Sites like Zaption are moving MOOCs into more interactive platforms, quizzing as it goes along. Imagine if in addition to an interactive platform we were able to capture behavior patterns indicating learning, or confusion, what if we were able to match the student with the best educator or advisor for their learning style?

Think about it.

A student is no longer just watching a video alone, half grasping the concept and moving on. The system catches on that something hasn’t entirely clicked and provides supplemental training, in a different way–slowed down, back to basics, whatever it takes. It goes over a topic until the light bulb moment is captured.

What would that do for student engagement? What would that do to completion rates? What would that do to our future when all of these bright minds are grasping and building on ideas that could move our world of work into the next generation?

These are the things that keep me up at night.


7 Things to Accomplish over Spring Break

20 Mar

Spring BreakAs the days get warmer (and thank goodness, longer) we try to get out and about as much as possible. For students this may mean becoming more involved in extracurricular activities and clubs or reviving that old commitment to fitness. Spring Break is here for Atlanta University students, and as I enjoy the week long break I’ve been thinking of how best to utilize my time. A break from studies is a definite necessity sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the planning and informal education should take a siesta too.




Here a list of 7 things students should try to accomplish this break:

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1. Read an old favorite. We read a lot for our classes as is, but taking time for personal reading is important for mental development. It’s also important for the creative thought process which you use every day. Reading is a relaxing pastime that helps develop our brains. It not only makes our brains stronger, reading often lets us  feel like we are experiencing new things vicariously. “According to Cristel Russell, a consumer behavior researcher at American University, reading a favorite book over and over again can be a way by which past experiences are relived like new ones or with new perspectives.”  Reading also provides great conversation fodder. Mention the content or theme of a book you’ve been reading, and see where a conversation goes. Books are cheap. Often for the price of shipping you can get a new (or old!) favorite. And if you’ve got an e-reader, it’s even easier!




2. Reconnect with a hobby. Running, painting, crochet: Whatever the task, if it’s been on hold for more than 4 months, time to start up again. Hobbies are important not only for stress relief but also because they create culture. A hobby can help shape who you are, and they help others find ways to connect with you. Mention at a dinner party you’ve been researching your ancestry for the past few years and you might be surprised who joins the conversation. For those out there with nothing to do over the break, hobbies are a great way to combat under stimulation. Hobbies provide eustress which is vital to a healthy, fulfilled life.


3. See a live show. On any given evening in Atlanta, you can find an artist to see. Atlanta has 62+ music venues within the city limits—and that’s not counting  the  Taco Mac bands on Thursday night. Live shows are a great way to experience albums as they were intended to be heard. With the advent of “digitally remastered” albums, the mp3s we love so much are usually robbing us of the original sound quality. Through a process called dynamic range compression,  records are made to sound “loud” even when they shouldn’t. I love my mp3s, and have no feeling one way or the other about vinyl superiority–that conversation is for other people, but I will say that taking in a show with fellow revelers provides a sense of community and belonging. There’s a definite stress relief in climbing rickety stairs or sitting in the balcony to watch an artist take the stage. Live events may also lead to chance encounters with future friends. Recently I attended a weekend music festival in Chicago. Later, when one of the many weekends’ artists was in Atlanta, I started conversation with a fellow reveler during a show. We realized during the course of conversation that we’d both been at the Chicago festival.  We lost track of each other after the show—she lived in Florida, so I never thought I’d run into her again. Months later while attending a friends’ birthday dinner, I was seated at the end of a long table with people I didn’t know. Halfway into the meal I realize I’m talking with my long lost Chicago weekend/Atlanta show friend. She’s now relocated from Florida to Georgia! We startled many a table when realization dawned on us–seriously, what are the odds?!  You never know when a show could change your life, or your opportunities.

12_bigstock_Travel_America_3043215 - Copy4.Travel somewhere new. This doesn’t have to be a full blown vacation: We’re college students; we don’t always have disposable funds at hand. But if you’ve got a tank of gas, you could head out for a day trip. For those of us in Atlanta, Tellus Science museum in Cartersville might be a great day trip. Cartersville has some interesting historical sites and Lake Allatoona is nearby. Traveling outside of our normal radius is educational in and of itself—driving a new route, seeing new scenery; but it can also lead to new perspectives and chance encounters.  Staying home is great sometimes, but it can cause stagnation. Getting out gives you the possibility of changed perceptions and experiences.

5. Take a lesson. You might be thinking, “Why would I want to spend an extra minute learning something else when I’m on break?” and I’d say to you, “Because living is learning.” Life is speeding up. It’s hard just to keep up, let alone get an edge. As students, we need every edge we can get. Harvey Mackay author of Swim with the Sharks( Without Being Eaten Alive), says it best, “The more talents you have, the more valuable you are.”  You should always be planning ahead. Think about watching an online tutorial during break. They offer different courses from learning the guitar to foreign languages—and many of these courses are free! You could also make use of a daily deal—they always offer something interesting…rock climbing was recently featured for cheap. You should never be afraid to try something new. We are all united in that we’re all beginners to something. The difference is that some of us will take the time to move beyond the beginner stage—maybe from a desire to achieve, or maybe a genuine curiosity for what’s out there. Either reason is fine, learning the lesson is the main thing.

6. Send a letter. This day and age we send email, we text, we Skype tweet, Facetime and Plurk. These are great (convenient) ways to connect, but there is something charming in the ancient art of snail mail. It’s clear the USPS is on a definite decline and changes are forthcoming, but for now, we still have mailboxes that receive and send mail, both important and trivial. When was the last time you received a “thinking of you” card in the mail? Did it make your day? I recently received a Postagram from a friend many states away. We hadn’t talked in many months, so when I saw her note in the mail I was smiling from ear to ear. I’ve made a much stronger effort to stay connected with her since then. That is the power of the mail. This week, think of someone you haven’t spent much time with recently. Maybe they’ve moved, or maybe they’re in a different chapter of life right now, and connecting is difficult. Send a thinking of you card. You can use Postagram from your phone, and they’ll take care of the leg work. It will make someone’s day. I guarantee it.
7. Go dancing. This one is my favorite, and it may be innate. Science suggests we are born to dance.  Babies as young as 5 months have the ability to “dance” with the beat. Dancing is fun. Dancers have increased serotonin levels and are generally perceived as better communicators. Science suggests it’s healthy, and at one time was vital to our success as a species. While that information is good to know for trivia night, it might also be helpful to know dancing helps improve your memory.  A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. We’re a little ways off from  the dementia stage, but it never hurts to plan ahead! Whatever the science, few things are as much fun as dancing with friends!

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Thursday morning Castle and Culture

17 May

Had a castle tour this morning!


many observations.

Most recently on the train back from our Castle visit:

the children here are provided with more organic educational tools. The toy stores are filled with bright colors and shapes….wooden carved toys, puzzels, books, interconnected items, I don’t know what they do. But they look like they would actually stimulate brain development rather than just talking at them.

That is something we do here in America that I don’t like so much. We take a passive educational stance when it comes to our youth. A video game, a tv program, a light up toy made of plastic, metal and various chemical components will teach our children everything they need to know. Maybe. But something feels shallow about it.

Here, there are constant troupes of children with their classes going on museum/gallery/concert/park trips. They use the buddy system (yay sencond grade memories!) and wear neon saftey vests. It’s quite cute.

On the train the teacher was talking to them. Using the same tone we do when having a conversation with a collegue. I had no clue what she was saying, but it wasn’t said in the pleading tone we often use with American 5 year olds. She kept a watchful eye, but let them choose their own seats–decision making skills in development. We don’t promote that until it’s honestly too late. Our decision making skills should have been developed long before college. It’s a wonder we function at all.

She was holding educational coloring material. It is more detailed and realistic than our children coloring guides. It was also of a musician and his supporting orchestra. It was a decent drawing, but I was struck by the content–a real situation– and the presentation–on an adult level.

We tend to baby things in America. Mickey Mouse and Dora and themed parties, I haven’t noticed any child wearing a character item of clothing. They dress like miniature adults. They seem to handle themselves as such also.

The only child I have heard acting out in public was a tourists kid. The natives are well behaved, seemingly bright, and thin. No obese children here either.

I’ve seen some fat men. The women in this part of town are all slim and lovely. They wear their heels on these cobblestone streets like it ain’t no thang. lol.

On an education front, they do have an Occupy Prague movement. Like Atlanta the homeless were the main long term attendees. The citizens don’t stay focused very long on any particular cause, but they did have decent support for the ACTA opposition. It was similar to our SOPA. The government is trying to control pirating and internet usage in a more efficient way, but the Czech population thinks that the internet and all its content (movies, music photos) should be free to everyone, as i understand it.


Free afternoon for me. I am getting a tattoo.