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Machine-Guided Learning Matches Teachers In Study

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the open-your-books-to-beep-boop-beep dept.

Education 76

New submitter dougled writes "A study at six universities found that students taught statistics mainly through software learned as much as peers taught primarily by humans. And the robots got the job done more quickly. '... our results indicate that hybrid-format students took about one-quarter less time to achieve essentially the same learning outcomes as traditional-format students.' They add, 'There is every reason to expect these systems to improve over time, perhaps dramatically, and thus it is not foolish to believe that learning outcomes will also improve.'"

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76 comments

The singularity... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083527)

...is coming.

Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#40083557)

Was the teacher tutoring a single student, as the machine was? How does the machine do when teaching a group of 30? I suspect that all we have really learned is that individual tutoring is better for some topics.

Of course computers can be less expensive tutors so the approach does have merit.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083609)

Such a slowness I can offer you! Yes, indeed! I'll offer every slowness in this existence!

Wow! Wow! Wow! Time for you, the one, to return to Gamemakerdom!

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (5, Insightful)

wanzeo (1800058) | about 2 years ago | (#40083633)

The most valuable part of machine assisted learning is the ability to move at your own pace. There are some OCW lectures I had to watch 3 or 4 times before I got it. Now matter how good a teacher is, no student is going to ask them to repeatsomething four times. The student will just nod and feign understanding, and the teacher will move on.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083725)

Absolutely. And even if you did get the teacher to go over it for you again, you're holding up everyone else.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#40083735)

Too expensive to have one computer per student. We'll just get a cheap big-screen TV hooked up to a single computer at the front of the class, and each student has a 'go back 30 seconds' button.

What could go wrong?

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (-1, Offtopic)

lethanhtdt (2643809) | about 2 years ago | (#40084457)

Cong ty tham tu tu k chuyn: Chuyn ngoi tình và bo v hnh phúc gia ình luôn là tài muôn thu. Khi có chng hoc v có du hiu ngoi tình thng thì ngi ta thuê cong ty tham tu tu vào cuc. Trong quá trình hot ng ngh thám t t ca mình, chúng tôi ghi nhn rt nhiu câu chuyn ci ra nc mt. Có bà v c tng chng mình cp b vi 1 cô nào ó, ai dè khi thê thám t iu tra thì phát hin ra ông chng cp b cùng lúc vi 3 cô. Ngc li có ông chng nghi ng v mình ngoi tình mi thuê thám t iu tra, sau khi phát hin ra v ngoi tình th mi a con i xét nghim và tóa ha thì ra lâu này mình nuôi dùm 3 a con cho tình ch. Dich vu tham tu tu ca công ty chúng tôi chuyên cung cp các thám t kinh nghim và dày dng, c ào to ht sc bài bn. Chúng tôi không nhng cung cp thám t tphcm mà còn có dich vu tham tu can tho. Xin chia s vi bn c nhng câu chuyn thám t mà chúng tôi thu thp c Nghe các thám t t t Sài thành k chuyn v cái ngh tay trái ca h, tôi không khi nôn nao mun c tham gia i cùng. Tôi may mn c các anh gt u cho tham gia mt chuyn i làm... thám t t! Nhp môn c tham gia, tôi phi hc qua mt lp hun luyn cp tc nhp môn. Nói là khóa hc cho nó oai, ch tht ra là trong mt chu càphê tôi mi, các anh bt u thuyt trình ch giáo cho tôi nhng iu phi làm, gia nhp mt cuc i làm thám t. Các thám t t vi cái ngh tay trái này, a s trong các anh là b i xut ng, nhiu anh tng là trinh sát trong chin trng Campuchia, võ thut lão luyn, s nhanh nhy áng tin cy vào bc cao th khi gp s c. Các anh dn tôi không c nêu tên, bi cái ngh này tuy xã hi rt cn, nhng pháp lut thì cha cho phép hot ng chính thc, công khai. Nhng cng không th nói, cái ngh ca các anh là trái pháp lut, bi nguyên tc u tiên ca thám t t t Sài thành là không c làm gì trái pháp lut, ch hot ng trong khuôn kh nhng quy tc mà các anh t ra là không bao gi ng chm n thân ch (khách hàng) cng nh i tng. Các anh vn hay ùa: “Nhìn bng mt thì chng có lut nào cm, nên có l ngh thám t t ca ti tôi ch có... nhìn thôi”. Nhng cái nhìn ca thám t t cng phi c ào to, nhng cp mt ca trinh sát, lanh li và n mình gia ám ông, ni công cng, trong quán càphê hay bt c ni nào mà i tng không bit ang b... nhìn mi là iu khó. Do vy, ch riêng “cái nhìn”, các anh thám t t phi giáo hun cho tôi sut hn 30 phút ng h. Theo các anh, s nht trong cái ngh này là làm l tung tích ca mình, b i tng phát hin là “b da”, do vy tôi phi nhm i nhm li ch riêng cái vic nhìn bt u c nhp cuc làm thám t. Sau “cái nhìn”, là hc cách thay i xiêm y, mi thám t phi luôn mc trong ngi ít nht 3 cái áo màu khác nhau, trang b ít nht 2 cái m bo him sn sàng theo xe (xe gn máy). Cha ht, bao gi thám t i làm vic u i theo mt nhóm ít nht có 2 xe gn máy tr lên, c mt on ng thì các thám t phi i xe cho nhau, sau ó là thay i màu áo, m bo him... tránh b phát hin. Và rt nhiu ngón ngh thám t mà tôi c dn dò rt k trc khi tham gia vào cái “ngh” này. n t hàng và vào cuc Sau khi ã qua “khóa hun luyn” ngoài quán càphê, tôi ch gn na tháng sau mi c các anh gi in thoi báo tin va nhn c n t hàng. Gi là n t hàng nói cho oách, ch ch là mt li nói ming, tha thun vi nhau gia khách hàng và thám t trong vòng vài phút. Ngh thám t n khách nht vn là n t hàng “tr ghen”. Các anh gii thích, “tr” là ch tr, còn “ghen” là my bà thy sinh nghi ông chng hay ong bm mà không bt qu tang c, hoc ngc li. Loi khách hàng này hin thuc hàng s 1, nhiu lúc các thám t phi phân loi mi nhn n t hàng. Ngoài “tr ghen”, các thám t cho bit, cng tng phá nhiu v sn xut hàng gi, hàng nhái mà n t hàng n t các Cty, n v sn xut hàng chính hiu. Sau khi thám t theo dõi phát hin ni làm hàng gi, hàng gian báo vi khách hàng, t ó khách hàng có bng chng báo c quan chc nng phá án. Ln u tiên tôi tham gia là mt n t hàng “tr ghen” ca mt bà sn sn ngoài 40 tui Q.Bình Thnh. Ch cn mt tm nh c 3x4 ca i tng, chi phí thanh toán theo thi gian, on ng làm vic ca thám t t, nói chung có v “tr ghen”, phía khách hàng ch tn có vài trm nghìn ng do i tng “hot ng” quá l liu, d dàng phát hin. Nhng có v i tng hot ng bí mt, rt tinh vi và cn thn nên thám t vt v c tháng tri mà cha “tr” ra ni n np, hoc bt qu tang, thì giá phi tính theo thi gian theo dõi. Tuy nhiên, theo các thám t t, a s loi “tr ghen” hot ng rt d theo dõi và bt qu tang tn ni ch trong vòng vài ln bám uôi, ngoài ra cn phi nm bt quy lut i li ca i tng là “nm c uôi ngay”. Tôi bt u theo chân 3 thám t t trên 2 xe gn máy, xut phát t Q.1. a im n là mt Cty Q.3. Chúng tôi chn mt quán cóc va hè ngi ch i tng xut hin. Qua bc nh phía khách hàng a nhn din, là mt ngi àn ông khá php pháp, mt en, tóc húi cao nhng ã lm m bc. “Mt gng mt d nhn dng”, mt thám t bo. 10 gi, tri bt u nóng hm hp, ngi ngoài ng phóng xe vi vã, ngi àn ông có khuôn mt trong bc nh bc ra t tr s Cty, vy taxi. Ám hiu ca anh S (thám t) là: “M bo him ca tao âu ri?”, có ngha tt c chun b eo bám i tng. 1 xe gn máy eo bám sát vi xe taxi, 1 xe còn li chy mt quãng khá xa, nhng không mt du xe trc. C qua mt vài on ng, 2 xe i v trí cho nhau. ng ph nóng hm hp, ngi xe ông kín, nht là qua các ch có “lô ct”, xe gn máy có th len li chy nhanh qua c, nhng xe taxi phi bò tng tí mt, mà c r r ngay sau ít xe taxi rt d b phát hin, hoc ngi i ng mng vì cn tr giao thông... Chic taxi ch i tng dng li trc mt quán càphê ti góc ng 3.2 và Cao Thng, Q.10. Chúng tôi dng xe bên kia góc ng, ngi àn ông vào quán... Nhng bên trong li là mt tp àn ông khác ngi cùng i tng. Bui u tiên ca tôi i làm thám t cha có kt qu. Liên tip 2 hôm sau, cuc eo bám vn din ra mit mài, có lúc tôi thy mt mi và nghi ng i tng ã phát hin có “uôi”. Cng quán càphê c, có lúc ông ta ngi mt mình nhiu gi lin ri ra v. n chiu th sáu, tc sau 4 ngày eo bám, tôi mi thy i tng này khá cn thn và tinh vi. Ông ta i ra t Cty bng xe gn máy tay ga, ri n mt siêu th trên ng Nguyn Kim, Q.Phú Nhun gi xe vào ó. Không i siêu th mua sm, i tng vy xe taxi hng v Q.Gò Vp. n ng Quang Trung, trc ch Hnh Thông Tây mi, i tng li xung xe taxi, tip tc ón xe ôm chy vù vào con hm sâu bên trong khu dân c. Tp thám t liên tc phi thay i bin pháp eo bám, tôi cng phi kh s làm theo. Ngôi nhà có cng rào ln hin ra, bên trong là mt cái sân khá ln vi phía sau là mt ngôi nhà cp 4. Cánh cng m ra gp gáp, ri óng sm li. Vn cha “phá án”, anh S ra hiu cho chúng tôi ghé quán càphê u hm, gn ngôi nhà. Va càphê, va trò chuyn vi ch quán tìm hiu i tng vào y làm gì. Anh S quyt nh móc in thoi “Alô...”. Hp ng kt thúc. i tng có gia ình 2 con trai ã ln, nhng trong ngôi nhà mà thám t t theo dõi phát hin chính là nhà ca i tng sng lén lút cùng v bé, cô v bé ã sinh con mt cách âm thm. Sau ln “tr ghen” y, vài ngày sau, các thám t li gi tôi tham gia mt hp ng dài hi... i tnh. Tôi háo hc tham gia khn gói lên tn Tây Ninh theo i tng. Hp ng ln này là mt ngi ph n ang lao ng nc ngoài, bà ta làm vic vt v nhng c gi tin v cho chng thì ông chng li em i bao gái. có bng chng, thám t t vào cuc. Không cn “tr”, mà ch cn chp nh làm bng chng là xong hp ng. i ngoài tnh, cuc eo bám i tng gp không ít khó khn hn trong ni thành, ó là i tng xài xe ôtô, phóng nh bay, chúng tôi thì i xe gn máy ã là mt cuc “ sc” không cân bng. chp c cnh 2 ngi tình t, chúng tôi rt ui theo xe ôtô ca i tng trên quc l i v mt khu vn tn Bình Dng sut mt bui và trên ng ã không di vài ln thám t t b CSGT “vn” li vì vi phm tc . Nhng bù li, nhng bc nh cng không my khó khn i vi thám t t, vì i tng n, , i chi vi ngi tình mt cách công khai! Th y, ngh thám t t vn âm thm sôi ng t Sài thành. Có khá nhiu ngi tham gia, nhng h u làm “ngh” không chính thc, không phô trng, dù khách hàng rt nhiu! Cong ty tham tu tu – congtythamtutu.vn

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084573)

>Too expensive to have one computer per student

Students already have computers on their own

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40088677)

So now they all just have to either:

- Support their own computer running the software on their own (would you want to be the tech support guy who has to support any type of laptop that a kid brings in? Then, what about the parents who bought a tablet because either they think or they were told that it could do anything a laptop can do? What do you mean, I spent $600 bucks on something that won't work?
- All purchase the exact same thing. And now just wait for the corruption to start with how that one thing gets picked. Which is not too bad, the same thing happens now with graphing calculators. But I will bet you it will end up being a lot more money than a TI-whatever.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40090173)

As long as the device is running the same operating system whats the problem? We've been doing the "it only works on windows" for a long time already.

Hell, make it a web interface and whats the problem? Anyone who breaks it via an unsupported device/browser/platform is at their own mercy..

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#40083755)

The most valuable part of machine assisted learning is the ability to move at your own pace. There are some OCW lectures I had to watch 3 or 4 times before I got it. Now matter how good a teacher is, no student is going to ask them to repeatsomething four times. The student will just nod and feign understanding, and the teacher will move on.

Depends on the tutor. Some will ask a question that is designed to demonstrate your understanding of the concept. It wasn't one-on-one but I've had professors who were notorious for posing questions to students to gauge their understanding of the topic at hand during a lecture. Nodding and feigning was hazardous to your grade, admitting your confusion was not.

Computer based lectures can also be helpful for those who are getting the material. You can get through it faster than if sitting in a classroom lecture, no interruptions from someone who is not getting it. And if you can play the lecture at 1.25 times normal speed then there can be a big win. Most of my classmates and I found that speed to be entirely equivalent to normal speed.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#40084249)

So why not use a textbook?

When I don't understand a chapter, I can repeat it as many times as I like.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | about 2 years ago | (#40085405)

The old adage of practice makes perfect would seem to apply - it only makes perfect if you're practicing correctly from the beginning. I ran into a particularly (for me) difficult piece of relativity equation in a text book some time ago, even now when I look at it it makes little sense to me. I was, however, able to go to a lecturer and have them clarify it for me based on how they understood my previous perceptions.

Bring on the robits.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

coastwalker (307620) | about 2 years ago | (#40085649)

Its always been true that a robot or a book could do the job. I learned my math way back in 1980 from Engineering Mathematics by K A Stroud and Dexter J Booth. Oh it helps to have a lecturer and other students to back it up but the only way to really learn is by doing and this book takes you there.
ISBN-10: 1403942463
ISBN-13: 978-1403942463

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

codewarren (927270) | about 2 years ago | (#40085755)

This is a good point. If you can't ask one of these machines a question, then these should be compared to textbooks, not teachers.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40086475)

Now matter how good a teacher is, no student is going to ask them to repeatsomething four times. The student will just nod and feign understanding, and the teacher will move on.

If the student is able to 'feign' understanding, the teacher isn't very good at all. A good teacher will be able to tell from the questions the kid asks how much he actually understands.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#40089349)

A good teacher will never have a single student. It doesn't matter how much juggling they do it is impossible to achieve the same level of synchronization with the individual student as is possible with a piece of software. If humans "teachers" still exist in the future, it is inevitable that their roles will dramatically change as software steps in to augment and eventually provide the lessons.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#40092273)

Now matter how good a teacher is, no student is going to ask them to repeat something four times. The student will just nod and feign understanding, and the teacher will move on.

If the student is able to 'feign' understanding, the teacher isn't very good at all. A good teacher will be able to tell from the questions the kid asks how much he actually understands.

Or possibly the teacher just has a large class. I really doubt that currently a computer can really replace a teacher, but I can easily believe that they could replace a lecturer, with LOTS of improvement. Computer programs may not be as flexibly interactive as a one-on-one teacher, but they can be a lot more interactive than a lecturer can. If a teacher has to handle a class of 30, some of whom really don't want to be there, then the computer can probably teach those who *do* want to be there better than that teacher can. If the class size is 300, then I'm certain of it. But if the class size is 15 or smaller, then if the computer is better, then the teacher is probably incompetent. Today. This isn't talking about three years from now.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

glorybe (946151) | about 2 years ago | (#40091081)

College students are heavily invested in success in their education and not just with money. They have put in a lot of work just to get accepted at a decent college. That means they don't act up, act out, or risk being bounced out of college. But when we are talking grade schools the picture changes quickly. In my area getting tossed out of school means lots of nice days at the beach. It is almost the norm to drop out of high school and it can actually give a kid status to get expelled. That means that they will need a close watch by some sort of security or they will act out in class. So you are replacing a teacher with a guard and the dollar per hour differential between a skilled teacher and a security guard is not much at all. Yet we will see more and more classes without teachers. They are becoming common.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#40109983)

Now matter how good a teacher is, no student is going to ask them to repeatsomething four times. The student will just nod and feign understanding, and the teacher will move on.

And how is this a teaching problem? Instead of a learners problem? If people think they are being "tracked" on their computer based study, they probably will feign understanding as well, just not to be label stupid... by a computer.

If a student is not capable of stopping by the teacher's office and ask for an in deep explanation, or if it's stubborn to keep asking and asking holding everyone behind, then there's a learning problem. The teacher is there to help for sure. I had plenty of help from my teachers, rephrasing, and using different examples that help me better understand what I was missing from the picture.

Overall, and as usual, the problem comes from the intolerance from people that think others are annoying for asking, and the shame of others thinking they may annoy someone else with their questions. Plain and simple, it's just cultural.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#40083655)

Why would we need to have the software teach a classroom? Isn't the ability to have teaching software able to deal with individual students better than a single teacher dealing with a class full of students? Why ruin it by saddling it with unnecessary burdens?
That's sort of like bashing a nice sports car because it wont do any better than a Honda Civic in a traffic jam.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#40083749)

Actually doing both makes the most sense. Were the students unsupervised or was someone present to ensure the odd student did not abuse the computer they were using.

In the end, is not thus why computers are being introduced to the classroom. The computer does the bulk of the teaching and the teacher supervises and helps students stuck and not proceeding the with computer driven teaching. So no the teacher must understand the computer education program as well as the subject being taught.

If you think having all children sitting at home connected to internet with no teachers will work, I have a US only teaching for profit teaching program to sell you and screw the resultant chaos, where both parents work and children are free to roam the streets during the day. I will electronically fudge the results to 'er' prove the success of the program so that the government will keep sending me millions and 10% of which I will religiously donate to the campaign of the crooked politician who signs off on it. This should euphemistically work for a minimum 3 maybe as long as 5 years then no matter how much PR=B$ via mass media is applied the majority will know it is all bull shit.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#40086993)

Alternatively, think of the teacher as a seed node in a peer-to-peer system. Those who learn faster can become 'supernodes' and help teach the rest of the class. Clumps of students who are at similar levels can work through their difficulties with the help of a seed node or a supernode.

Just thought I'd point this idea out, as it doesn't have to be an either/or choice between 1:m and 1:1 teaching. We can also have m:m, m:1 and any other combination. Facilitating that effectively would be the challenge.

Re:Was the teacher tutoring a single student? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40093511)

I don't think this is about sticking a computer or robot in front of a class. This is about doing away with the classroom. Think about it. 30 kids in a room, listening to a teacher lecture on a subject that she or he is barely versed in is a waste. (This is, sadly, the public school norm)

If you are asking what do we do about daycare for children that have two working parents, well, that's a different question.

More attention to students? (1)

manwargi (1361031) | about 2 years ago | (#40083567)

Could it be that the results balance out because what the software lacks in being a human, it makes up for by being able to handle each student "personally"? As opposed to a fleshy instructor who has to spread himself or herself thin over the whole class.

peer review... (1)

mevets (322601) | about 2 years ago | (#40083579)

who did the analysis? 'hybrid-format studentsâ(TM) or 'traditional-format studentsâ(TM)? Please donâ(TM)t say the statistics software.

And this is a success? (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40083613)

I can't believe how low the teaching level must've got if a machine receives better outcomes than a teacher. Or how low the assessment of learning...

Gosh, from the Fermi's [wikipedia.org] way of teaching to this? In a space of... what??... last 20-30 years?

Re:And this is a success? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083705)

Really? What, honestly, do "people as a teacher" even do compared to software? A piece of software can deliver all of these questions, sit there and blather at me and etc. just as well as a far more expensive professor. The only thing in fact that a professor could do that software can't (yet) is foster class discussion, every scenario of which I've seen over a decent sample of classes AND professors at no less than 3 different colleges indicates that a class discussion is pretty much always useless.

In fact, since a piece of software is perfectly copyable not only will it be cheaper, but will also be able to evolve as a singular model of proven effectiveness, whereas professors (at best) get together in large conferences every year to argue about things like changing how to cite things in a paper so as to ensure their students must constantly learn new ways of doing so and fail anyway.

Re:And this is a success? (4, Insightful)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#40083793)

A teacher can understand what essential part of understanding you are missing and make an analogy that explains exactly that. He can then change the analogy if you don't get it. This, of course, assumes rather few students per teacher, and good teachers. But by all means, let's find out where humans do well and where computers are better.

At the university where I work, the experience seems to be that class discussions work better in e-learning courses. This could be because even quiet types will join in, or because people spend longer time thinking about their answers. This is, of course, only anecdotal.

Re:And this is a success? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083861)

If that's the case they're doing it wrong. It was never a problem when I was in college because for the most part we did small group discussions rather than whole class discussions. And the quiet types were expected to contribute something as they needed to with only 6 or so in a group, otherwise you wouldn't get anywhere.

Elearning itself has some pretty enormous drawbacks for many students and isn't anywhere near ready to be a reasonable replacement for the classroom. Cheating is common enough in the classroom, and for many students online isn't terribly motivating either due to tendency to put it off and the lack of shame when one isn't taking it seriously.

Re:And this is a success? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#40090789)

A teacher can understand what essential part of understanding you are missing and make an analogy that explains exactly that. He can then change the analogy if you don't get it.

For a subject like math where you're learning a skill, computers can do a good job of that, too. You evaluate the child's performance by asking questions that have only one right answer. Based on what things that child got wrong, you explain the concept in a different way.

This doesn't work as well for non-skill classes, however, and doesn't work at all for skill classes where there is not just one correct answer. For example, God help us all if we try to use computers to teach English beyond the most basic of grammar lessons. By my estimation, computers' ability to understand English grammar is approaching that of a two-year-old, if that. Computers can't handle nuance.

Re:And this is a success? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40083903)

A piece of software can deliver all of these questions, sit there and blather at me and etc. just as well as a far more expensive professor.

Here's the proof for the current low level in education... people that don't know and can't imagine better about learning/teaching than teachers that delivers questions, sit and blather. (with a grid exam at the end, isn't it? Because it doesn't matter that's a suboptimal way of assessing the learning: it's "objective" and, above all, cheap)

Boy... I should consider myself lucky, then.

Re:And this is a success? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#40085127)

Is it though?

I mean consider the university lecture: you have 50 people in a room, 1 professor delivering essentially a fixed lecture. Even with questions answered live, you would struggle to deal with 10 students who wanted to ask different questions. And my university mathematics lectures were far bigger then that.

But when you think about it, it's also just a grossly inefficient use of resources. We have the technology to deliver lectures whenever we want, at any rate we want, at people's own pace. Surely we can think of a better use of human resources in this equation then narrating a powerpoint presentation.

Re:And this is a success? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40085895)

Is it though?

I mean consider the university lecture: you have 50 people in a room, 1 professor delivering essentially a fixed lecture. Even with questions answered live, you would struggle to deal with 10 students who wanted to ask different questions. And my university mathematics lectures were far bigger then that.

During my uni time, after a 1.5-2 hours lecture with 200 students, we had at least one 2-3 hours seminar - in smaller groups 18-20 at max - to discuss and detail the topics, explore consequences and solve problems. With one of the professor's assistants (every professor had 2 or 3). Each professor would have at max 16 h/week teaching and research for the rest of it (with or without students. BTW, does a 6 school-days/week, 8-10 hours/day somehow horrifies you?)

But when you think about it, it's also just a grossly inefficient use of resources. We have the technology to deliver lectures whenever we want, at any rate we want, at people's own pace. Surely we can think of a better use of human resources in this equation then narrating a powerpoint presentation.

If the "human resources" are just narrating a slideshow, I can do nothing but to agree that's a waste. But not a waste of the said "human resources" (can't call them teachers), but of the students time. That being said, I'll end by:
1. if education is a primordially a matter of "resources", I'll remind you of Derek Bok (hint: start by googling "if you think education")
2. education is an area in which positive feedback tends to happen. And when it happens, it happens on long term: if one generation "degenerates" in the style of education on a "it's just good enough" level, you can bet with high chances of success the next generation will degenerate even further. Case at hand: a youngster nowadays can't even imagine that real teaching/learning may be more than "narrating a powerpoint". Well, it can... see a very informative post [slashdot.org] - Google for some terms there, will lead you to some interesting info.

Re:And this is a success? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084175)

Class discussion that include "students like you"! As always, language comprehension is a prerequisite for intellectual discourse. If you do not want to be in a course, nothing is going to help you.

Re:And this is a success? (4, Interesting)

williamhb (758070) | about 2 years ago | (#40084047)

I can't believe how low the teaching level must've got if a machine receives better outcomes than a teacher. Or how low the assessment of learning...

Gosh, from the Fermi's [wikipedia.org] way of teaching to this? In a space of... what??... last 20-30 years?

Four things to say on this one -

1. It looks like essentially the same result that's been repeated over and over again since the 1990s. Technology-enhanced learning papers from a host of universities have been occasionally reporting gains of up to about 1.1 standard deviation over classroom teaching alonefor a couple of decades.

2. Beating university lectures is an extraordinarily low bar. We've known since the 1980s that non-interactive teaching, as typically happens in lectures and used to happen in high school classrooms too, is rubbish. See Bloom's "Two Sigma Problem" paper for extensive details (from high school classroom studies), and how simple things like "setting homework" can give a gain (actually marking the homework gives another gain; teaching students where they went wrong in the homework yet another gain! Wow, who'd have thunk it! What a surprise that a computer doing some of those things that we found 30 years ago provided a gain ... provide a gain over doing nothing). There is a more difficult challenge of matching human tutoring -- the intensive small group teaching by experts that routinely beats classroom teaching by two standard deviations but is much more expensive to do.

3. Unfortunately for the field, a lot of mixed-mode experiments are flawed because the groups can't practically be isolated properly, and there's usually very little way of knowing how much of the learning is due to what part of the technology. It varies from case to case, but one of the common problems (from an experimental, not a learning, point of view) is that students are pretty much required to subvert your system -- no student is ever told "you mustn't find some other way of learning this". So, even if some part of the teaching is crap, if the system has given the students a clearer indication of what's going to be on the test, students will find another way of learning how to answer the test (ask their friends in the other stream, read a worked answer to last year's exam, Google...). That means there's often a hidden variable of whether setting computer practice tests is making the students better at the guessing game of knowing what's going to be on the real test. In some ways that'd actually be fine (yay, our students are doing better), but not if it means they neglect any learning that isn't on the computerised test (Joe can calculate eigenfactors til the cows come home; he just can't do anything else and has no clue when it's useful to do that)

4. It's also important to note these are not machine-only learning methods. There's been plenty of lionisation of entirely online teaching, but the subtle truth is that universities have never thought it's just knowing the material that matters. Which is why they don't mind giving away all the material for free. After all, you've been able to go to the library and get the material for free for a few centuries now, but not that many people choose the Good Will Hunting route for their education. It turns out there's value to the soft skills you develop from being stuck in with a bunch of bright kids and (hopefully) bright faculty and put through the academic rigmarole, and to the credibility of having come out successfully at the other end. Or if you want to be really cynical about it, it turns out that employers also value some of the less glorious things that universities teach you:
* Being able to navigate ridiculously over-complex bureaucracies and still get things done
* Being able to learn what you need and accomplish what you've been required to do even when faced with setbacks such as the unintelligible academic gibbering away at the front of the class being actually pretty useless at teaching
* Being able to manage your workload even when every damn subject lands a 40-page assignment on your plate in the same week of semester
etc

Re:And this is a success? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40084265)

Wow, thanks. Highly informative.

So, even if some part of the teaching is crap, if the system has given the students a clearer indication of what's going to be on the test, students will find another way of learning how to answer the test (ask their friends in the other stream, read a worked answer to last year's exam, Google...). That means there's often a hidden variable of whether setting computer practice tests is making the students better at the guessing game of knowing what's going to be on the real test.

In the context of experiments (mixed-mode or not), I tend to agree with you.

However, it is not true in general. The best exam I ever stayed (nuclear protection engineering): open-books exam, a single problem to solve (each student had their own), you were even allowed even to go to the library and consult whatever book or journal you'd like or even borrow it. Even talk to whoever you liked outside the exam room. The single restrictions: the total time you were allowed to miss from the exam room was 1 hour. The maximum time you had for the entire exam: 8 hours (a work-day for the prof/assistants), no hand written papers brought from outside.

Granted, happened during late '80 - no mobiles or tablets to receive all the info in electronic format from outside.

Re:And this is a success? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40088521)

We are the Borg - resistance is futile - you will be assimilated... This technological distinctiveness will be added to our own

Re:And this is a success? (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 2 years ago | (#40088575)

I can't believe how low the teaching level must've got if a machine receives better outcomes than a teacher.

Your lack of objectivity is startling. You're assuming a priori that machines should be worse than teachers. As such you're not in a position to gauge the merits of the study.

Also, comparing to Fermi is silly. Even in Fermi's day most teachers were not as good at instruction as he may have been. The study isn't trying to show that machine guided instruction outperforms the best teachers, but that they outperform most.

Re:And this is a success? (1)

glorybe (946151) | about 2 years ago | (#40091107)

These days teachers are forced to be mild and teach to the slowest in the classes.

Re:And this is a success? (2)

BitterOak (537666) | about 2 years ago | (#40093805)

I can't believe how low the teaching level must've got if a machine receives better outcomes than a teacher. Or how low the assessment of learning...

Did you say the same thing about human chess players when computers started beating the world champions? Maybe it isn't that teachers have gotten worse, but that computers and instructional software have gotten better.

Read the PDF (4, Interesting)

solarissmoke (2470320) | about 2 years ago | (#40083635)

They actually make some pragmatic conclusions in the report itself, and don't claim that machine-guided learning is some sort of panacea:

The findings in this study warn against “too much hype.” To the best of our knowledge, there is no compelling evidence that online learning systems available today—not even highly interactive systems, of which there are very few—can in fact deliver improved educational outcomes across the board, at scale, on campuses other than the one where the system was born, and on a sustainable basis.

...

We do not mean to suggest—because we do not believe—that ILO systems are some kind of panacea for this country’s deep-seated educational problems, which are rooted in fiscal dilemmas and changing national priorities as well as historical practices. Many claims about “online learning” (especially about simpler variants in their present state of development) are likely to be exaggerated. But it is important not to go to the other extreme and accept equally unfounded assertions that adoption of online systems invariably leads to inferior learning outcomes and puts students at risk.

Translated (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40083745)

They actually make some pragmatic conclusions in the report itself...

I have a much shorter translation for you: "We do not want to be assassinated by the teachers union".

If we were allowed to have good teachers they could easily do better than computers, but since we cannot have good teachers in schools bring on the automation I say.

Re:Translated (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#40084049)

If we were allowed to have good teachers they could easily do better than computers, but since we cannot have good teachers in schools bring on the automation I say.

Yes, just fire everybody from the good jobs, so that they can work as packbots [motherjones.com]. Nice idea. [/sarcasm]

Re:Translated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084335)

Shut the fuck up Apple fag.

too much hype (1)

mevets (322601) | about 2 years ago | (#40083839)

This is /.; without hype, it would only be /|.
Your lofty ideas are not welcome here; this is the realm of gutless reaction to misunderstood hype.

The real question is when can we replace the upper echelons of power with these ILO systems?

Re:Read the PDF (-1, Flamebait)

lethanhtdt (2643809) | about 2 years ago | (#40084499)

Thám t Bo Tín - Cong Ty Tham Tu tai tphcm Di ây là bài vit có liên quan n lnh vc thám t theo dõi ngoi tình là mt trong nhng th mnh vt tri ca chúng tôi. Xin chi s kinh nghim s trí tình hung khi chng ngoi tình. Anh y th vi bn, thiên h bt u xì xào nhng bn chng có bng chng gì chng minh ông xã ang i “n ph”. Nên kéo anh y v vi mái m nh th nào mà chng cn phi làm mi chuyn m lên? Tránh nhng câu hi và hành ng gây d ng Nh: "Anh i âu? Vi ai? Ai va gi in thoi mà nghe ting em ã dp máy? Ai nhn tin cho anh gi này th?", kèm nhng hành ng ht sc "quân phit" nh ngn cn không cho chng ra ngoài vào bui ti, bui tra dt khoát yêu cu chng phi i n cm vi mình dù hai ngi làm vic cách nhau rt xa. Ri nhng k ngh l, ngh mát, i thm quan, dt khoát không cho chng i nu c quan chng không cho v con i cùng. Chng bn có là g á cng không sao chu ni s dò xét và "truy sát" nh vy. Bn ng dn anh y vào chân tng vi li hành x nh vy, anh y s "ngán" bn n tn c và ngày êm càng ch t tng n ngi tình. T nhiên th , ít quan tâm ti chng Khi chng ngoi tình, phn ln các ngi v u dùng cách t ra chm sóc, chiu chung chng hn, "lôi kéo" chng v vi mình y mà. Làm th cng là cách tt. Song nu úng thi gian chng bn "có vn " mà bn li t ra th , không thèm ý n nhng thay i anh y, không quan tâm n nhng cuc in thoi, tin nhn mà li t ra chm chm ôm cái máy in thoi ca mình mi ni mi lúc, ngay c khi vào bp, vào phòng v sinh, lúc bn có tin nhn trc mt chng thì m ra xem ri xóa ngay. Hàng ngày bn i sm v mun, thay i gi gic liên tc và luôn gi in báo cho chng là bn có vic phi v mun. Cá vi bn rng không n hai tun bn x s nh vy, chng bn s quay sang tìm hiu và nghi ng bn có ai ó. Liên tc làm mi mình Bn trang im, n mc p và thng xuyên xin phép chng i ra ngoài vào ngày ngh, vào bui ti. Bn có th nói rng bn i chi vi cô bn này, bn khác. Tt nhiên chng bn s tò mò và gi in cho ngi bn kim tra. Và s tht là bn không n nhng ni nh bn ã nói. Khi v, ng nhiên là chng bn s cn vn và bn hãy t ra lúng túng, ánh trng lng chng bn càng nghi ng bn có ai ó và t ra ghen tuông, cnh cáo bn. Nhng li “thú ti” chân thành Hãy cho chng bn khng nh trm phn trm là bn ã ngoi tình còn bn thì t ra "chân thành thú nhn" vi anh y tt c. Rng gn ây cm thy anh y không mn nng, am mê, quan tâm n bn nh trc nên bn rt bun, cô n và ht hng. Gia lúc ó bn li gp mt ngi àn ông nh hiu c tâm trng ca bn, ã an i và chia s bun vui vi bn. iu ó khin bn thy bun chán, thm chí ã em li nim vui mi cho bn. Bn xin li chng vì ã l là, thiu quan tâm n anh y, nhng ng quên nhc anh y rng chính anh y ã i x trc vi bn nh vy. Bn cm n anh y ã cnh báo bn kp thi, khi bn cha b sa ngã ch vì cô n và ht hng. Và bn ng quên nh nhàng yêu cu anh y hãy cùng bn quên i tt c nhng gì không hay mà anh y ã gây ra hai v chng tr li cuc sng tràn y yêu thng nh thu ban u.

Another bogus study... (4, Interesting)

ToddInSF (765534) | about 2 years ago | (#40083667)

That measures success not by ability to think critically and solve problems, but instead by the ability to regurgitate garbage back to the robots.

Which is all good and well, since that's mostly all that teachers have been doing anyway.

Way to shoot for the bottom of the barrel and diminish any real improvement in education !

Re:Another bogus study... (1)

anomar71 (2527480) | about 2 years ago | (#40084327)

I would have to agree. A teacher who inspires students are very, very rare these days.

Re:Another bogus study... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40088623)

That might just be because it takes a special kind of person to be a great teacher. Specifically, it takes the kind of person willing to put up with absolutely everybody from all walks of life acting like they know the profession better, with the constant interference from legislatures and especially right-wing pressure groups, with people making the laughably false claim that they're overpaid, with parents who don't parent but who love to bitch and whine about absolutely everything, and of course with the propaganda that their unions somehow wield so much power that no force of nature could possibly stand up to them and therefore they must be attacked further.

I couldn't do it.

Robtic Overloads. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083715)

I for one bow down to our new computer overlords...

Let teachers *teach* (4, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#40083717)

By offloading the rote and basic informational dispersal to the students, that would hopefully free up the teacher to focus on walking through real demonstrations and examples, interacting with students, and helping out with some of the difficult-to-understand areas, instead of spending most of their time doing the same lecture-style material over and over.

Re:Let teachers *teach* (1)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#40084359)

I'd have to disagree with you on letting teachers *teach*.

One day in elementary school, I made the relavation that I wasn't in school to let teachers teach me and that made all the difference. It doesn't matter what the teacher is teaching, demonstrating, interacting, or lecturing, it really only mattered what I'm getting out of it and if I think it is important to me.

Of course many things that can be important to a person at various point of time (e.g., listening enough to a teacher to get a good grade in the course you are taking is a good example of something that could be important to someone at a point in time), but the most important thing that a teacher can do is help a student decide what should be important for them to learn.

IMO, the best teachers aren't helping students with the material, but helping them decide what to learn. Not every student can learn all the material in a course, and not every student is challenged with the material in the course, but every student has the ability to learn something about the subject. When you become a student of the subject, the course material is merely secondary. You learn some of the material if you can, you experience some of the material enough to know what is known or knowable (even if you don't learn it), and you file that subject experience in your educational portfolio.

Another way to look at this is to use Steve Job's perspective which he so eloquently expressed in his commencement address to Stanford which I find quite compelling as well. "The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting." Of course I'm not a brave or as successful as Mr Jobs, but if teachers can teach students to find the path that is best for the student (rather than teach the material), that would be the best use of their time.

Re:Let teachers *teach* (1)

wrook (134116) | about 2 years ago | (#40084801)

It is not just rote and basic information dispersal that is important for students to do. A student's job is to learn. They must provide determination, courage and a willingness to learn. You are exactly right that this must be offloaded to the students. If we try to "push" information into the students, we become a bottleneck. We slow the process down to nothing. A student must "pull" the information from whatever resource is most appropriate. Most students do not know how to do that initially, but can be taught. Once they start doing it, the teacher no longer limits them.

There are a couple of things I think a teacher needs to to:

    1) Teach students strategies for learning.
    2) Set student's expectations of what will result from said learning.
    3) Organize material so that the student doesn't have to search for it.
    4) Support the students emotionally.
    5) Act as a resource for questions.
    6) Provide objective and subjective feedback on progress.

Re:Let teachers *teach* (3, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | about 2 years ago | (#40087303)

By offloading the rote and basic informational dispersal to the students, that would hopefully free up the teacher to focus on walking through real demonstrations and examples, interacting with students, and helping out with some of the difficult-to-understand areas, instead of spending most of their time doing the same lecture-style material over and over.

In the subject I teach (physics), what you're describing is standard modern pedagogy. What I mean by the word "standard" is that anybody who pays attention to the published empirical evidence knows that this is what you have to do in order to get decent results. It's not really new. A lot of the relevant work was done by Richard Hake (see this paper [mit.edu]) in the early 90's, and it was popularized by Eric Mazur in his 1996 book Peer Instruction. What Hake and his colllaborators have shown is that in traditional lecture-style courses, the amount of conceptual understanding that students gain (compared to what they had entering the course) is always extremely small, and there are no exceptions to this rule. The findings apply even to lecturers who have won awards, get wonderful student evaluations, etc. Techniques like the ones you're describing have been shown to do significantly better.

The problem is simply that most teachers don't pay attention to the empirical evidence -- which is pretty pathetic for someone teaching a subject like physics, which is supposed to be an empirical science. Rather than doing what works according to the evidence, they do what their own professors did when they were undergraduates.

A secondary problem is that students typically prefer traditional lecturing, because it doesn't make as many demands on them. They come to class without reading the book, sit passively in their seats, doodle in their notebooks, and think about sex.

dystopia day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40083759)

What is it, dystopia day? First a post wherein someone suggests we all should get chipped, and then a posting about indoctrination machines... next thing you know we'll find out that all the NWO conspiracy types are actually not crazy?

Back to the drawing board (1)

RavenousBlack (1003258) | about 2 years ago | (#40083815)

Seeing how a lot of kids come out from our teachers, I would say they need to make a bit more progress in machine-guided learning.

Statistically speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084013)

Statistically speaking, computers are better than people at teaching statistics.

I've been using Duolingo for a month (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084027)

I've been learning from Duolingo for about a month. It seems to be working quite well. So far I've learned over 100 words en espaniol, and I hope to learn the rest of the 11,011 words more quickly, but we shall see.

Robots with benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084399)

Do the robot teachers join the teachers union or get tenure?

Makes me think of TopCoder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40084503)

I wouldn't stoop to RingTFA, but computer guided learning makes me think of TopCoder. Automatically showing the results of your code against test cases is a very useful kind of feedback. I doubt this would work for other fields (Maybe proofs, but we are not yet up to automated parsing of human language proofs yet).

Not scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40085099)

No peer review, even though it's written like a scientific article. Plus the abstract says "These zero-difference coefficients are precisely estimated. We also conduct speculative cost simulations..." Not what the slashdot summary leads you to believe.

Let students learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40085419)

Replace also the students by robots for the best perfomance!

Hybrid (2)

fiziko (97143) | about 2 years ago | (#40085423)

This was a hybrid approach. How would they have done without the face-to-face hour each week to get questions answered that the machines couldn't answer?

Teachers are still required (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40085619)

Machines can not do counseling very well. We still need real teachers for that, no matter how good machines can be.

Re:Teachers are still required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40087899)

Ah yes.. teachers "counseling" students, in hotel rooms. We need more of that. And lets not forget the "tough love" of humiliating them or ignoring them in class because the teacher doesn't like them. Or in some cases choking them in front of the class, or slamming them against the wall because teachie had a little too much vodka that morning and thought the kid was chewing gum in class.

One of my high school teachers had 2 dui's and had to be driven to work by the principal(alcohol was usually found in his desk) Another was in an accident and drugs were found by the police (and it was in the paper!). Both were still working when I graduated.

Common thread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40086583)

People who enjoy learning statistics and engage with the material are also those who do not crave human social interaction?

My thesis is on this. (1)

Peterus7 (607982) | about 2 years ago | (#40090425)

I've been doing a Master's thesis on hybrid learning, and this story is incredibly misleading. Hybrid learning doesn't equal machines teaching. It just means that the teacher is reframed as someone who has to use instructional technology more to save class time. In turn, they end up having to spend a lot more time troubleshooting course software issues, providing student tutoring, etc. We're getting to a stage where most asynchronous learning can effectively be done online. But this doesn't invalidate the need for a human being involved, and the importance of some face to face time with the instructor. The research has backed this for a long time, and this is not new information at all. In fact, I've most research suggests that hybrid learning produces better achievement results than either online or traditional modes, although the push right now is for online courses due to the flexibility they offer.
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