education's digital future

big data

With a few bits of data, researchers identify ‘anonymous’ people

Even when real names and other personal information are stripped from big data sets, it is often possible to use just a few pieces of the information to identify a specific person, according to a study to be published Friday in the journal Science.

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Ranking and networking: LinkedIn & big data

LinkedIn has officially joined the jam-packed college rankings party. And with 313 million users, the job networking site has a big data sample both for creating the rankings and for marketing them.

The new ranking system tracks the success of college graduates in eight broad career paths, adding weight for jobs deemed “desirable.” It lists the top 25 institutions in each career category.

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Can universities use data to fix what ails the lecture?

John R. Barker paces the front of the lecture hall, gesturing at slides with a laser pointer and explaining to a room full of undergraduates how scientists use data to make predictions about global climate change.

At the moment Mr. Barker, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan, is facing a climate crisis of his own: The atmosphere in this lecture hall is dead.

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As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethics

Scholars are exhilarated by the prospect of tapping into the vast troves of personal data collected by Facebook, Google, Amazon and a host of start-ups, which they say could transform social science research.

Once forced to conduct painstaking personal interviews with subjects, scientists can now sit at a screen and instantly play with the digital experiences of millions of Internet users. It is the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.

Data, data everywhere: MOOC Research Initiative releases results

Massive open online course providers are collecting troves of data about their students, but what good is it if researchers can't use the information?

Harvard & MIT release scrubbed MOOC data

“De-identified” records of more than a million people who took part in the first year of massive open online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been released to researchers, the two institutions said on Friday.

The institutions said the records had been “subjected to a careful process of de-identification: removing personally identifiable information, using best practices including aggregation, anonymization via random identifiers, and blurring to reduce individuality of sensitive data fields, among other techniques.”

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Harvard and MIT release visualization tools for trove of MOOC data

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have released a set of open-source visualization tools for working with a rich trove of data from more than a million people registered for 17 of the two institutions’ massive open online courses, which are offered through their edX platform.

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Schools use web tools, and data is seen at risk

Public schools around the country are adopting web-based services that collect and analyze personal details about students without adequately safeguarding the information from potential misuse by service providers, according to new research.

A study, which is expected to be released on Friday, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies.

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Pearson's Pursuit of Efficacy

Pearson will spend the next five years developing a framework to measure and publicly report its products’ efficacy and impact on learning outcomes, the education giant announced on Friday. Although its road map is incomplete today, Pearson says its push for efficacy will in in a few years permeate every way in which the company does business.

A JPMorgan Ph.D.?

JPMorgan Chase plans to give $17 million to start a doctoral program at the University of Delaware, an effort that may raise new questions about collaborations between colleges and donors.

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