Here Come the Data Scientists

17 Aug

By Joshua Kim

A few days after the Hewlett sponsored gathering Learning with MOOCs wrapped, one word keeps buzzing through my brain: and that word is data.

This was less a MOOC workshop than a coming out party for the postsecondary learning-focused data scientists.

Instructional designers were yesterday’s hot new member of the course development team. Today, the must-have course development team member (along with faculty and instructional designers and media specialist and librarians) is the data scientist.

And not just any data scientist.  A data scientist who is also an expert in program assessment.  A data scientist who is also a learning geek, steeped in all things Bloom and constructivist.

Maybe these learning-centric data scientists have always been wandering around campus.  Hanging out with the good people in Institutional Research, ensconced over at the Ed School.

From here on out the learning-focused data scientists are the new superstars.  The cool kids.  The big women and men on campus.

As we develop our first edX (DartmouthX) courses, and work to invest in re-designing our gateway courses, many of the discussions on my campus are about data.

Some of the area where learning-focused data scientists will impact include:

  • The learning-focused data scientists on our course teams will have a seat at the table as we develop our open online courses, as we transform our large introductory classes, and as we put together new blended and online degrees.
  • The learning-focused data scientists will help us come up with learning hypothesis that they will later test, taking advantage of the massive data streams created by online learning at scale.
  • The learning-focused data scientists will help faculty and instructional designers apply lessons learned from MOOCs to residential classes.
  • The learning-focused data scientists will be at the forefront of a trend towards evidence-based design and practice in course development and teaching.
  • The learning-focused data scientists will create visual representations of student learning, dashboards of student performance, and evaluation reports on course-specific interventions.

We may be living through an inflection point in higher ed teaching and learning.  A sea change or broad transformation in postsecondary learning.

[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: ]

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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in Industry News, MOOCs in the News


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