Posts Tagged ‘social learning’

From Dr Google, to Dr Facebook, and beyond…

I recently appeared on the ABC Health Report radio program.

Joel Werner: Do you ever go online to search for symptoms that you’re experiencing? I do it all the time, and it’s a trend that has picked up the nickname ‘Dr Google’. For Ashwin Ram, Dr Google is just one step on the path to future healthcare…

The Intelligent Web: Shaping Behavior at the Intersection of Health, Wealth, & Choice

The web is evolving from information (portals) to interaction (social/mobile). The next stage will be about influence: shaping attitudes and behaviors. To do this effectively requires a new kind of technology: user modeling. It also requires an innovation methodology that is fundamentally about people, not technology.

I discuss three big ideas in innovation for consumer engagement and behavior change, and illustrate using examples from healthcare, education, and financial services.

Invited keynote at Amplify: Business Innovation and Thought Leadership, June 2013, Australia.

SLIDES:

Health : Healthcare :: Learning : Education

With the advent of open education resources, social networking technologies and new pedagogies for online and blended learning, we are in the early stages of a significant disruption in current models of education. ‘Learning’ is beginning to peel away from ‘Education’ as a separate market, with its own set of opportunities and challenges for practitioners, technologists, and entrepreneurs. While ‘education’ is driven by schools, colleges, and governments, ‘learning’ focuses on empowering the individual to take charge of their learning.

Interestingly, a similar phenomenon is occurring in healthcare, fueled by the confluence of similar trends and technologies: open health resources, social networking technologies and new methodologies for consumer engagement. ‘Health’ is starting to emerge as a separate and disruptive market, with its own opportunities and challenges. While ‘healthcare’ is driven by providers, payers, and governments, ‘health’ focuses on empowering the consumer to take charge of their health and wellness. 

In this talk, I discuss recent trends in these two industries, explain why they are analogous, and discuss opportunities for user experience, big data, analytics and social capital research. I provide examples of social, mobile, and game technologies that are creating the disruption, and highlight key research challenges that are yet to be addressed.


Invited talk at UC Berkeley, iSchool “Thought Leaders in Data Science and Analytics”, April 11, 2012. 

SLIDES

Transforming the Industry: Watson in Education

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists with valuable help from research partners from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas, University of Southern California, University of Massachusetts, University of Trento (Italy), MIT, RPI, and the University of Albany. The team set out to accomplish a grand challenge—to build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. Watson passed its first test on Jeopardy! in February 2011, but the real test will be in applying the underlying systems, data management and analytics technology across different industries, especially in education.

Invited panel presentation at IBM Watson in Education: Transforming the Industry, IBM Almaden Research Center, November 16, 2011

Crowdsourcing: From Phenomenon to Business Model

Crowdsourcing is changing both the way we work, as well as the way Internet applications are designed and delivered. It’s no longer just the domain of technologists (who can now achieve breakthroughs together never before achievable); crowdsourcing is now ripe for enterprise professionals to understand and leverage the possibilities for their business goals.

From Wikipedia and YouTube, crowdsourcing has moved to a $5B “crowd worker” industry with applications proliferating for productivity, research, marketing, advertising, creative development, corporate workflow management, language translations, and much more — see a list of projects here.

I discuss social networks as a kind of crowdsourcing, with unique benefits and challenges.

Invited panel presentation at PARC Forum, Palo Alto, CA, November 10, 2011
 

View the panel discussion:

www.parc.com/event/1456/crowdsourcing-ceo-expert-panel.html

SoCS Computational Models and Techniques: A Case Study

I spoke today at the NSF Workshop on Social-Computational Systems (SoCS) on Mike Pazzani‘s Computational Models and Techniques panel with Tuomas Sandholm, Lise Getoor, and Tina Eliassi. We were asked to address the questions of what computation can teach us about socially intelligent systems, and what problems are encountered when applying existing technologies to such systems.

I focused on two key SoCS challenges : impedance mismatch, and research-at-scale. Let me explain.

What can computation teach us about SoCS? If we begin with technology, we’ll encounter the key challenge of “impedance mismatch” between people and technology. The technology, however good, may not address people’s needs. Instead, let’s reverse the question: What do socially intelligent systems teach us about computational technology?

Consider, as a case study, the problem of education: building a SoCS system to help students learn. Our first pass was a collaborative learning site with a state-of-the-art collaboration platform, a kind of “Google Docs meets WebEx meets Etherpad meets Skype on steroids”. While the site was useful, we learned that students didn’t use most of the features we had built. The issue was impedance mismatch: the technology did not address education problems from a student perspective.

What, then, are these problems? There are two: Access (scale) and engagement. To tackle the impedance mismatch, we need to design technology that provides the right affordances (in the Gibsonian sense) for student behaviors that address those problems.

We created a vision for Open Social Learning that blends, not Google Docs and WebEx, but Facebook and World of Warcraft. With funding from NSF, NIH, GRA, and Gates/Hewlett NextGenLC, and partnerships with MIT, Yale, NYU, and many others, we rethought the site from Education to SoCS to Learning Theories to Design Principles to Affordances to Architecture to User Experience (UX) to Mechanisms. (See slides and references below.) This process resulted in a fundamentally disruptive idea, one driven not by technology but by the SoCS it was to support.

Only then did it make sense to think about Computation: really real-time collaboration technologies for a highly interactive experience; intelligent recommender systems to help learners connect with relevant content and other learners; mining and analytics to assess learner outcomes; and reputation techniques to establish social capital.

The new OpenStudy.com is an Open Peer-to-Peer Social Learning Community, a place that matches learners studying the same things into live “massively multiplayer study sessions“. The problems of access (scale) and engagement are addressed through two mechanisms: A Luis von Ahn approach where the social community scales itself, and a kind of gamification in which everyone is on the same team.

Great idea—but how do we know it works? The education literature is full of great ideas that don’t work in practice. SoCS data research involves studying large-scale communities; the same applies to SoCS technology design. This is the research-at-scale challenge. Laboratory studies don’t prove much; the research fundamentally requires scale.

After 9 months, OpenStudy has grown into a vibrant community that both provides value to its users and serves as a “living lab” to study and validate the ideas. We’re continuing to research how new technologies can be combined to address the problem of education in a manner that is highly scalable yet interactive and engaging.

To understand what socially intelligent systems teach us about computation, then, requires a new methodology comprised of old ideas about design thinking brought into the new world of Social-Computational Systems at a massive scale.

READINGS

P Adams (2009). Designing for Social Interactions.

Terry Anderson (2007). Distance Learning: Social Software’s Killer App?

J Daniel (1996), cited in JS Brown (2007). Minds on Fire: Open Education, The Long Tail, and Learning 2.0.

RA DeMillo (2011). Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities in the Twenty-First Century.

R Friedrich, M Peterson, A Koster (2011). The Rise of Generation C.

Gates Foundation study: JM Bridgeland, JJ Dilulio Jr, KB Morrison (2006), The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts.

D Thomas & JS Brown (2011). A New Culture of Learning.

More readings at: Massively Multiplayer Online—Learning?

SLIDES

Open Social Learning Communities

With the advent of open education resources, social networking technologies and new pedagogies for online and blended learning, we are in the early stages of a significant disruption in current models of education. The disruption is fueled by a staggering growth in demand. It is estimated that there will be 100 million students qualified to enter universities over the next decade. To educate them, a major university would need to be created every week.

Universities have responded to this need with Open Education Resources—thousands of free, high quality courses, developed by hundreds of faculty, used by millions worldwide. Unfortunately, online courseware does not offer a supporting learning experience or the engagement needed to keep students motivated. Students read less when using e-textbooks; video lectures are boring; and retention and course completion rates are low.

Therein lies the core problem: How to engage a generation of learners who live on the Internet yet tune out of school, who seek interaction on Facebook yet find none on iTunes U, who need community yet are only offered content. We propose a new approach to this problem: open social learning communities, anchored with open content, providing an interactive online study group experience akin to sitting with study buddies on a world-wide campus quad.

This solution is enabled by state-of-the-art web technologies: really real-time collaboration technologies for a highly interactive experience; intelligent recommender systems to help learners connect with relevant content and other learners; mining and analytics to assess learner outcomes; and reputation techniques to establish social capital.  We will discuss these technologies and how they can be combined to address the problem of education in a manner that is highly scalable yet interactive and engaging.

This approach can be used for other types of learning communities. We will show an application to healthcare information access to help consumers learn about their healthcare questions and needs.

Keynote talk at SIPA Conference: Entrepreneurship—Idea Wave 3.0, Mountain View, CA, November 12, 2011.
 
Keynote talk at the International Conference on Web Intelligence, Mining and Semantics (WIMS-11), Sogndal, Norway, May 27, 2011.
 

View the talk:

videolectures.net/wims2011_ram_learning

Read the paper:

www.cc.gatech.edu/faculty/ashwin/papers/er-11-04.pdf

View the slides:

 

 
 

Towards A National Study Guild

New post on blog@CACM: My presentation to President Obama’s Science & Technology advisory council (PCAST) on Education.

“Imagine a Facebook where the point is to study together, not trade pictures and jokes. Imagine a World of Warcraft where students earn levels and points by helping each other learn. Not a video game that teaches physics; instead, let’s create an educational experience that is social and game-like.”

READ IT HERE:
cacm.acm.org/blogs/blog-cacm/109290-our-big-idea-open-social-learning/

SLIDES:

Open Social Learning aka Massively Multiplayer Online Learning

“Our Open Social Learning solution to these three problems of education is therefore elegantly simple. In this solution OpenCourseWare courses are augmented by a community of learners who help one another, support one another and learn together as they socialize and spend time together online. Not only is this solution validated by educational research, it is also eminently scaleable because you are not dependent on hiring tutors or teachers to spend time assisting self learners.  The community helps one another.  Open Social Learning also fits right in with what our digital millenials want to do: hang out online for hours!  Why not get them talking about math instead of … well, let’s not go there.” — Dr. Preetha Ram

P. Ram, A. Ram, C. Sprague (2011). Socializing OpenCourseWare with OpenStudy. OCWC Global 2011: Celebrating 10 years of OpenCourseWare, Cambridge.

View it here: preetharam.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/open-social-learning-aka-massively-multiplayer-online-learning

Make the World your Study Group

CNN Chalk Talk: A new website called OpenStudy allows students to share resources and learn with one another from all over the world.

Click the image to watch the video (3 min.)

Read the transcript: CNN Chalk Talk, October 1, 2010

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, coming up, calling all college students. There’s now a group online that allows you to study in a unique way. You can get help from across the globe. You don’t even need a passport.

(BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, we turn to “Chalk Talk” today, now.

We are checking out a new study group that’s geared toward helping college students succeed. It’s an online study group called OpenStudy, and it’s linking students from around the world, helping them pass some tough courses.

Joining me now is Ashwin Ram. He’s the director of Georgia Tech’s Cognitive Computing Lab, one of the founders of OpenStudy.

Sir, thank you for being here.

OpenStudy, this is a worldwide study group. Do I kind of have that right?

ASHWIN RAM, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA TECH’S COGNITIVE COMPUTING LAB: That’s right. Open Study is a match.com for studying. It’s a social learning network that enables students to connect and study together, and get help when they need it.

HOLMES: Now, you said you’ve all been thinking about this for a while, for the past couple of years. What were you trying to work out, make sure there was a market for it, or is there some complicated technology you had to work out as well?

RAM: It was actually both. We wanted to get the value proposition right for students. We spent a lot of time researching the core need that students have, and that resulted in OpenStudy.

HOLMES: What did you determine was that core need? What did you find that students out there needed?

RAM: So, students all over the world are hitting their textbooks late at night cramming for exams. Maybe they’re working on review problems, watching video lectures on iTunes or MIT.

When these students need help, who can they turn to? The core need was to be able to find someone who can help them and give them help right there, right then, no matter what time they needed that help.

HOLMES: All right. And this is, again, supposed to link students with students. Essentially a study group like at the library.

RAM: It’s a worldwide study group. Our mantra is “We want to make the entire world your study group.” So there’s always someone who can help you.

HOLMES: How does this thing work? It looks like a social network page almost here.

RAM: It does. So let’s say that you are a student, and you’re one of 10,000 students studying computer science on MIT’s web site. And you’re working on video lectures or problem sets, and you have a question.

HOLMES: OK.

RAM: What do you do? You join a study group. When you do that, you get dropped into the MIT OpenStudy Group.

As you can see, we have over 2,200 people out there. Think of them as your classmates that can help you any time you want.

I noticed that we’ve just had someone join us from Kenya.

HOLMES: Oh, wow.

RAM: We actually have students from 138 countries from around the world. That’s 71 percent of the world’s countries.

HOLMES: Now, does this cost the kids anything to sign up for?

RAM: No, it’s completely free.

HOLMES: I’ll be danged. So you can pretty much — as well, you’re talking about kids up all hours of the night. No matter — somewhere in the world somebody is going to be up, somebody’s going to be logged on, somebody’s going to be studying.

RAM: Someone will always help you. And so if you have — you can go in and help somebody, but if you have a question, or you want to just study together with someone, you click on “Ask a Question,” type some question in that you want help with, and say, “Ask Now.”

The question is posted. Everything updates in real time. And you go back to the site, and then someone will be available to start answering you.

HOLMES: Will start answering you.

All right. Are you ready for growth? Because this might catch on. Are you ready for what might come?

RAM: We are ready for growth.

HOLMES: OK.

RAM: We’ve had remarkable growth already. We’ve only been live two weeks. We have over 6,000 people already using the site.

HOLMES: All right. This is going to be the next Facebook, 500 million. Come back when you get 500 million members in there. All right?

RAM: Thank you.

HOLMES: All right.

Ashwin Ram from Georgia Tech.

Thank you so much. Cool concept.

RAM: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

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