[Scrap] Google Sponsors Carnegie Mellon Research To Improve Effectiveness of Online Education — Paying Attention To How People Learn Promises To Enhance MOOCs

Link: http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2014/june/june24_improvingmoocs.html

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University researchers will tap data-driven approaches to improving learning as part of a new Google-sponsored effort to unlock the educational potential of massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

The multi-year program, made possible through a Google Focused Research Award, employs a variety of methods to improve MOOCs. The research plan includes development of techniques for automatically analyzing and providing feedback on student work, for creating social ties between learners and for designing MOOCS that are effective for students with a variety of cultural backgrounds.

“We’re excited about Carnegie Mellon’s work on mechanisms to allow online courses to adapt automatically to the learning needs of individual students,” says Alfred Spector, vice president of Research and Special Initiatives at Google. “We believe this research will make online courses much more engaging, and benefit both students and educators around the world.”

The goal is to get online courses to be as successful as the best courses in brick-and-mortar classrooms, said Justine Cassell, associate vice provost of technology strategy and impact and co-director of CMU’s Simon Initiative, a university-wide effort that uses learning science and technology to improve student learning.

“A MOOC today typically means a lecture-style presentation with little if any opportunity for interaction with other people in the course,” Cassell said. Not surprisingly, most students drop out long before the courses are complete, and learning gains are often low even for those who stick it out. “Unless the MOOCs pay attention to how people actually learn, they will not be able to improve effectiveness, and will end up as just a passing fad,” she added.

The CMU program will approach the problem from several directions.

In one thrust, Emma Brunskill, assistant professor of computer science, and Ken Koedinger, professor in theHuman-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, will use machine-learning techniques to personalize the MOOC learning experience. Computer programs will evaluate each student’s work, identifying subject matter that has been mastered and areas where additional study or different types of exercises could be beneficial.

This kind of data-driven learning, pioneered at Carnegie Mellon, has shown to make learning faster and more effective.

In another thrust Carolyn Rosé, associate professor in the Language Technologies Institute, and Robert Kraut, professor of HCII, will look for ways to reduce attrition. Though many students in MOOCs are simply browsing, even committed students have a high drop-out rate. To improve retention, Kraut and Rosé will look for ways of increasing socialization, through mentoring, team assignments and other techniques. They also seek to identify warning signs that students are in danger of dropping out and to develop interventions to re-engage them in courses.

A third thrust will focus on how to make the content of the course more engaging. Jessica Hammer, assistant professor in HCII and the Entertainment Technology Center, and Amy Ogan, assistant professor in HCII, will examine how to enhance the pleasurable aspects of MOOCs, adjust the design of courses available globally to account for cultural differences, and develop a deeper understanding of how and when to incorporate game play into MOOCs.

The Google award will fund the research at $300,000 a year for two years, with an option for a third year.

Google’s Spector is a member of the Global Learning Council (GLC), which includes leaders from academia, the private sector and the foundation community. Chaired by Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh, the GLC aims to serve as a standards and best-practices resource for individuals and organizations seeking to deploy technology-enhanced learning approaches to improve learning outcomes. The GLC will have its first annual meeting in Pittsburgh in September.

The Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Language Technologies Institute and Computer Science Department are all part of Carnegie Mellon’s top-ranked School of Computer Science, which is celebrating its 25th year. Follow the school on Twitter @SCSatCMU.

[Scrap] Google Sponsors Carnegie Mellon Research To Improve Effectiveness of Online Education — Paying Attention To How People Learn Promises To Enhance MOOCs

Advice From Life’s Graying Edge on Finishing With No Regrets



ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”

ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”

Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. And keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.

ON PARENTING The demands of modern life often have a negative effect on family life, especially when economic pursuits limit the time parents spend with their children. Most important, the elders said, is to spend more time with your children, even if you must sacrifice to do so.

Share in their activities, and do things with them that interest them. Time spent together enables parents to detect budding problems and instill important values.

While it’s normal to prefer one child over others, it is critical not to make comparisons and show favoritism. Discipline is important when needed, but physical punishment is rarely effective and can result in children who are aggressive and antisocial.

ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment. A 92-year-old who can no longer do many of the things she once enjoyed said: “I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Things that were important to me are no longer important, or not as important.”

Another said, “Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t actually there in the previous time.”

Maintain social contacts. Avoid becoming isolated. When an invitation is issued, say yes. Take steps to stay engaged, and take advantage of opportunities to learn new things. Although many were initially reluctant, those who moved to a senior living community found more freedom to enjoy activities and relationships than they had before.

To those who worry about dying, these men and women said the best antidote is to plan for it: Get things organized, let others know your wishes, tidy up to minimize the burden on your heirs.

ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. And travel more when you’re young rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.

As Dr. Pillemer summarized the elders’ view, “Travel is so rewarding that it should take precedence over other things younger people spend money on.” Create a bucket list now and start whittling it down.

ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.

A 75-year-old man said, “You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.” An 84-year-old said, “Adopt a policy of being joyful.”

The 90-year-old daughter of divorced parents who had lived a hardscrabble life said, “I learned to be grateful for what I have, and no longer bemoan what I don’t have or can’t do.”

Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.

Advice From Life’s Graying Edge on Finishing With No Regrets

[Scrap] Howard Schultz – Good C.E.O.’s Are Insecure (and Know It)


Turning a culture around is very difficult to do because it’s based on a series of many, many decisions, and the organization is framed by those decisions. Here’s one example: In the late-’80s, before we went public in ’92, Starbucks gave comprehensive health insurance to part-time workers and equity in the form of stock options to part-time people. That created an unbelievable connection, and we still do it. … I also think that I was insecure about being a poor kid, but with that came a sense of values and sensitivity about those people who didn’t get respect and had low self-esteem because of that. So in the early days of Starbucks, my office was in the roasting plant. And I ended every day by walking the plant floor and thanking people who were the unsung heroes of the company. For many people, that demonstrated that I wasn’t sitting in some ivory tower. I was one of them. And I think the leadership style I have is that I’ve never put myself above anyone else, and I’ve never asked more of anyone than I was willing to do myself.

(How do you hire?) I want big thinkers. I want people who are going to be entrepreneurial. I want people who are going to have important things to say and the courage to say them. I want people to challenge the status quo, but I also say something to everyone I hire, and that is: “You don’t have to come in here and try to hit a home run, and let me tell you why. You’re coming in here because I and many others believe very strongly in who you are and what you can bring to the company. So you don’t have to come in here and prove something right away.” People who succeed at Starbucks are going to demonstrate a healthy level of respect and understanding of the culture of the company and the people who have come before them. There have been great people who have come into the company who haven’t succeeded because they have not embraced the culture and values of the company, so you need to do that.

I think one of my strengths is that I have a very good antenna about people. I’ll ask a few things that are probably different from a traditional interview. First off, I want to know what you’re reading and then I’ll ask you why. Tell me what work-life balance means to you. I would want to know specifically their level of understanding about our company and Starbucks culture, and I’ll see early on who’s faking it and who’s not. I obviously want people who enjoy coffee. I think it would be very difficult for me to hire somebody who doesn’t drink coffee. I want happy people. I want people who enjoy other people. And we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to win and I’ll ask people to describe that for me.

I think it’s so difficult to succeed today in business. The ability for the team to function together, to support one another, to trust one another, to have cohesion and to also have creative tension, is just mission-critical. If you came in to our weekly Monday-afternoon meeting, you would think, “Man, this company’s in trouble.” Because we are incredibly self-critical, and that’s an attribute I have because I know there are always areas of improvement. But we also have to find opportunities to celebrate success, and I want to find opportunities for the people in the company to find those moments where people are doing things really well and recognize them and support them and celebrate them, especially in this kind of environment.

If you don’t love what you’re doing with unbridled passion and enthusiasm, you’re not going to succeed when you hit obstacles. I want to see emotion. We are in an emotional business, and I need people around me who understand that we are an emotional business and have a visceral affection for it.

I would say one of the underlying strengths of a great leader and a great C.E.O. — not all the time but when appropriate — is to demonstrate vulnerability, because that will bring people closer to you and show people the human side of you. Now, in order to demonstrate vulnerability, you have to make sure you have people around you who will never use that against you, because you trust them and they trust you. So the ability, behind closed doors, to have open and honest conversations with your team about the concerns you have, the fears you have, and the opportunities, is the balance that someone needs to succeed.

[Scrap] Howard Schultz – Good C.E.O.’s Are Insecure (and Know It)