Archive for May, 2011

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:

Read the paper:

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.”



A Case Base Planning Approach for Dialogue Generation in Digital Movie Design

We apply case based reasoning techniques to build an intelligent authoring tool that can assist nontechnical users with authoring their own digital movies. In this paper, we focus on generating dialogue lines between two characters in a movie story. We use Darmok2, a case based planner, extended with a hierarchical plan adaptation module to generate movie characters’ dialogue acts with regard to their emotion changes. Then, we use an information state update approach to generate the actual content of each dialogue utterance. Our preliminary study shows that the extended planner can generate coherent dialogue lines which are consistent with user designed movie stories using a small case base authored by novice users. A preliminary user study shows that users like the overall quality of our system generated movie dialogue lines.

Read the paper:

A Case Base Planning Approach for Dialogue Generation in Digital Movie Design

by Sanjeet Hajarnis, Christina Leber, Hua Ai, Mark Riedl, Ashwin Ram

19th International Conference on Case-Based Reasoning (ICCBR-11), London.

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: