MOOCs and "improving pedagogy"

Massive open online courses, or "MOOCs", are big and getting bigger. Coursera is a well known name in the space but EdX, a MOOC platform that is an expanding collaboration of universities started by Harvard & MIT, was new to me.

The New York Times ends their article about the rush of universities to join these platforms with a logic-defying turn:

As important as providing free access to students worldwide, Dr. Agarwal said, is edX’s goal of using the platform for research on how students learn, and better on-campus pedagogy.
So far, most MOOCs have had dropout rates exceeding 90 percent.

Using Open Source Software for Data Management | Hub Designs Magazine

The idea of commoditization of a software solution space marking the debut of OSS options works fine, but it doesn’t mean that OSS will be a successful option for all solution domains. MDM for many enterprises requires sophisticated and well-defined software capabilities that support many areas including the data management practices, processes, and roles of people that must be handled well to achieve success with MDM initiatives.

via @jmichel_franco

Jim Holincheck on analytics & domain expertise

A good take on the shortcomings of existing BI tools.

To understand the relationships between various metrics and their root causes requires significant domain expertise.  This is something traditional BI providers have lacked, in my opinion.  It also requires more sophisticated analytic techniques be applied where appropriate, some of which today are beyond the skills of typical business analysts.

This evaluation around domain expertise and sophisticated techniques is, I think, especially relevant in the badly-named "predictive analytics" area, where the skills are severely lacking and general purpose tools are trying and failing to make up the difference.

(via @dahowlett's tweet and blog)

Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart? |

Interesting and insightful discussion of the role that stress can play in our daily lives. Especially relevant for its bearing on the debate around aggressive standardized testing in the US. But also very important to consider in a professional context whenever artificial high-pressure situations are introduced (think of job interviews).

Farewell, neighbors - EveryBlock shuts down

It appears that NBC has made the decision to shut down EveryBlock. EveryBlock was originally funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, and when that grant ended it was acquired by NBC. That, somewhat controversial, move may have pushed the Knight Foundation to rethink some of its grant terms.

Given that history, it seems especially unfortunate that this community resource is now shut down with no warning, and the data that the community worked hard to create is now (apparently) gone for good. I hope NBC at least releases the community-created data for others to use in the future, but I doubt this will happen.