MIT Team Turns 6.9 Million Clicks Into Insights To Improve Online Education

11 Aug

By Peter High

MIT has been a leader in online education for more than a decade, and many leading thinkers in the evolution of education technology have emerged from the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. MOOC leader, edX, is run by Anant Agarwal, who is a professor at MIT, for example.

The path of progress has not proceeded unabated, however, and there have been many reason. This year EdX, the platform co-run by MIT and Harvard, gave researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) data on the second-by-second viewing habits of more than 100,000 learners perusing over 6.9 million video sessions. The team found that the following factors weigh heavily in the success or failure of online learning platforms:

  • brevity (viewers tune out after six minutes)
  • informality (professors seated at a desk, not standing behind a podium)
  • lively visuals (rather than static PowerPoint slides)
  • fast talkers (the most engaging professors spoke 254 words a minute)
  • BUT more pauses (so viewers can soak in complex diagrams)
  • web-optimized lessons (existing videos retroactively broken into shorter chunks are less effective than ones created with online audiences in mind)

Juho Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in the User Interface Design Group at MIT CSAIL. He designs interactive technologies for online education, with a focus on leveraging collective learner activities to enhance the video learning experience. His research introduces learnersourcing, a set of methods and tools that collect, process, and visualize large-scale learner activities. He is interested in applying established learning theories beyond small, in-person classrooms. As a result of these findings, he has been working with a team at MIT to develop a better learning platform. The result is LectureScape, which has the ambition of becoming the “YouTube for MOOCs.” I caught up with Kim to ask him about the vision for LectureScape, the needs it hopes to address, and how he anticipates it will grow.

(This is the thirteenth article in the “Education Technology” series. To read the prior twelve articles in the series, please click this link.)

Peter High: Please provide an overview of LectureScape?

Juho Kim: LectureScape is an enhanced video player for educational content online, powered by data on learners’ video watching behavior. LectureScape dynamically adapts to thousands of learners’ collective video watching patterns to make it easier to rewatch, skim, search, and review. By analyzing the viewing data as well as the content itself, LectureScape presents educational videos in a more lively and dynamic way: a timeline shows which parts other users have most frequently watched; an interactive transcript lets users enter keywords to find relevant segments; a mechanism automatically creates word clouds and summaries of individual sections, as well as the whole presentation; and content from popular slides automatically appears in the following slide, as users will likely want to refer back to that information.

[ Full article available at Forbes: ]

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News


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