Taking Educational Technology Worldwide: Challenging the Assumptions of Personalized Learning

Speaker: Amy Ogan , Carnegie Mellon University

Date: Friday, November 16, 2012

Time: 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Refreshments: 12:45 PM

Public: Yes

Location: Patil/Kiva 32-G449

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Host: Rob Miller, MIT CSAIL

Contact: Juho Kim, 6507969759, juhokim@mit.edu

Relevant URL: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/uid/seminar.shtml

Speaker URL: None

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Reminders to: hci-seminar@csail.mit.edu, chi-labs@csail.mit.edu, seminars@csail.mit.edu, msgs@media.mit.edu

Reminder Subject: TALK: Taking Educational Technology Worldwide: Challenging the Assumptions of Personalized Learning

The advent of widespread access to computing offers the promise to transform educational practices worldwide. At present, most massive open online courses (MOOCS) present practice and evaluation opportunities through static lists of multiple-choice questions. Future systems, however, will increasingly rely on sophisticated modeling of student knowledge to provide personalized instruction. Unfortunately, the few systems that currently employ such models tend to be developed for and evaluated in middle-class US schools – a very particular cultural context. This assumption is a broad generalization, as the cultural makeup of the US, and indeed the world, is changing dramatically. A central question educational technologies must confront is how these systems scale to diverse contexts with differing classroom practices and values.

To investigate the cultural implications of educational technology use, I studied a math tutoring system that has been shown to be effective in the US. Through observation, interviews, learning assessments, and log data, I explored student and teacher use of the technology in school sites in Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Portugal and Belgium with an international and local team of researchers. An example finding was the much greater propensity of students in our Latin American sites to collaborate closely, engaging in interdependently-paced work and very frequently conducting work away from their own computers. This threatens the very core assumption of personalized learning systems - that learning is individual – and rendered the sophisticated, personalized models inaccurate.
The current hope is that as these systems go mainstream, the massive amounts of data collected will help researchers bootstrap and improve these models. However, the models built can only be as good as our assumptions about the data. In order to achieve the full benefits of personalized learning with MOOCs, we must employ human-computer interaction methodologies to help us rethink the underlying expectations for data collection and system design. For instance, our studies suggest that incorporating low-cost sensors can aid systems in better determining the context of use and active users. Technology designers can then implement multi-user versions of their personalization algorithms (e.g., knowledge-tracing, help-seeking, and adaptive scaffolding) that take advantage of this contextual understanding. As technologists increasingly become the gatekeepers of widespread education, further research is warranted that examines our assumptions about student identity, classroom practices, and cultural contexts of use.

Amy Ogan is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, where she leads projects investigating the development of culturally-aware educational technologies that engage learners in social relationships. She completed her doctorate in HCI at CMU in 2011 as the recipient of an Institute of Education Sciences fellowship. Dr. Ogan has additionally been a visiting researcher at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, and has recently conducted field research on the deployment of educational technology in seven countries. Her broader research goals include the support of underprivileged students through technology, and the use of technology to introduce students to new cultural perspectives.

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Created by Linda L. Julien Email at Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:24 AM.