Oct 18 2011

syllabus analysis machine


Greg Crane had this idea to gather all syllabi, encode them, mark them up a bit, and then analyze them as a data set that could show learning “tracks” or assumptions or ways of thinking about learning or patterns of supporting information usage or varieties of instruction of key points.  And THAT analysis could then inform the individualization of learning, in this way:

“David, I see you want to learn Economics. Our research shows that there are 12 ways to start, and no.s 3, 6, and 9 correspond to what you say your learning styles are. Here are some steps to follow, and here is a hyperlink to the most commonly-used texts, and here are the names of 3 tutors willing to help mentor you. When you’re done, come back for an assessment.”

I propose we talk about it and what would be involved. Maybe someone’s already doing it. Maybe not. I know the Brandeis linguistics department is quite interested, and I know that Brandeis syllabi (at least) are mostly online, in a pool that we might one day be given permission to study. I imagine others might be interested, including funding agencies interested in rendering education more cost-effective or individualized. We might be able to attract Greg to sign on as an advisor (why not, he suggested it!  He founded the Perseus Project! Etc.).

The results will be gathered in a shared published doc and might include a preparatory document on the idea and its challenges, or thoughts about what it would take, or a list of other people doing something like this, or the name of a school willing to host this, or the idea of some funding agencies interested in this kind of thing.


About the author


I try to understand teaching and learning and organize people to collaboratively identify related challenges and develop and test experimental solutions

Permanent link to this article: http://newengland2011.thatcamp.org/10/18/syllabus-analysis-machine/

1 comment

  1. Sean Wang

    This sounds really interesting! I’m more interested in the technical side of things (how to do this in DH?), but this seems like a very innovative application.

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