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Tempering the Rise of the Machines

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Online learning

Credit: Tristan Verboven

A report written by former Tufts University president Lawrence S. Bacow and former Princeton University president William G. Bowen analyzes the state of online education and machine learning in the university system.

The report assessed the potential roadblocks that might prevent traditional research institutions from integrating sophisticated, machine-guided learning tools into their curriculums. Proponents of interactive learning online (ILO) say that it can help teach students new concepts and help human instructors collect data on how students interact with those ideas.

"A wide variety of such systems, of varying quality and sophistication, will proliferate in the next three to five years," say Bacow and Bowen. They say the data harnessed by ILO systems could result in a greater understanding of learning outcomes and greater institutional accountability.

However, there are potential hurdles to the widespread adoption of these systems, mostly involving faculty skepticism. Many faculty members fear that instructors could lose their jobs to robotic systems.

"To date, no sustainable platform exists that allows interested faculty either to create a fully interactive, machine-guided learning environment or to customize a course that has been created by someone else (and thus claim it as their own)," Bacow and Bowen say.

From Inside Higher Ed 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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