Visualizing Matrices

Matrices are everywhere in Data Science. In fact, they are everywhere in Computational Science. Stanford’s Margot Gerritsen has a wonderful video on Visualizing Matrices. First, she walks us through the basic structure of a matrix. Yes, a matrix consists of rows and columns. But it should be viewed as a system of equations with an underlying structural relationship among the coefficients. Then,...

Lorena Barba’s Keynote: Computational Thinking is Computational Learning

“If you can do mathematics with a dynamic technology instead of with a static one, then perhaps you can do real mathematics instead of denatured mathematics and thereby open the possibility of a Samba School effect.” —Seymour Papert The term computational thinking was coined by MIT’s Seymour Papert and popularized by Carnegie Mellon’s Jeannette Wing.  In a series of papers and talks...

Taking Control of Your Data: HTTP with Accountability (“HTTPA”)

  In the world of Big Data there is increasing concern about privacy. But the conventional wisdom, even among many “experts”, is that privacy is a relic of the past. The thinking goes: “Companies and organizations can make a best effort at securing private information but in the Internet Age a person’s data trail, once it is in external hands, is no longer subject to...

Measuring Education Quality: A First Look at US College Dropout Statistics

Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out In Introduction to College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, Jeffrey J. Selingo opens with Samantha Dietz’s story. A top student in high school, Samantha earns a 3.9 Grade Point Average (GPA), takes Advanced Placemennt and International Baccalaureate courses, and participates in the debate club, Harvard Model Congress, and the student...

Can We Improve Retention Rates by Giving Students Chocolates?

Course Signals’ Retention Claim Course Signals is an early-warning alert system for identifying at-risk students developed at Purdue University and made available commercially by Ellucian. It has been claimed that use of Course Signals “boosts graduation rate by 21 percent”.  The claim is suspect and continues to be repeated without scrutiny.  I wrote a simulation to test the claim. My...

The Rwandan Tragedy: Data Analysis with 7 Lines of Simple Python Code

Rwandan Tragedy
There is a lot of discussion these days about Big Data, Machine Learning Algorithms, and Advanced Statistics. But with this case study I hope to illustrate that you don’t have to be a “Rocket Data Scientist” to take advantage the tools now beginning to be available for data analysis. The available of “open datasets”, when combined with tools such as Python/Pandas can empower...

Joseph Blitzstein and “The Soul of Statistics”

Reasoning with “uncertainty” is at the core of analytics. The science of uncertainty itself has two faces: probability and statistics. Probability allows us to calculate the “likelihood” and “unlikelihood” of events. If God, Death, and Taxes are the only certainties, then the rest of life lies squarely in the realm of probability. Statistics allows us to reason from...

Smart Education Meets Moneyball (Part I)

Wired Magazine. Innovation Insights John Baker, Desire2Learn, 04.09.13 Smart colleges and universities are beginning to use predictive analytics to transform massive amounts of data into active intelligence, using it to help their customers – i.e., students – learn their course material more effectively and boost their grades. Analytics in education is empowering the learner in every step of their...

The Learning Registry: How to Liberate Learning Resources

How can I discover valuable learning resources? This is still an unsolved problem from technical infrastructure perspective.   Funded by the US Department of Education and led by Dr. Marie Bienkowski, the Learning Registry is an exciting project for “liberating” learning resources from the web.  The Learning Registry is another Learning Object Repository (LOR). Rather, it’s an ambitious...

The Scientific Approach to Teaching

Harvard’s University’s Eric Mazur has been applying the “flipped classroom” concept for two decades. His ALT-C 2012 Keynote is must viewing for educators and anyone interested in analytics in education. I also recommend Garr Reynold’s blog for a review of Mazur’s work.