LinkedIn Touts Coursera Tech Talk


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In addition to the Hackdays LinkedIn hosts on a monthly basis, the company also invites innovative technology entrepreneurs to come and speak at the LinkedIn campus in Mountain View, California. These public "tech talks" provide a glimpse at the future of how data will be used in the workplace.

The last tech talk was held one month ago, when Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng gave a presentation on their new project, Coursera. Coursera is a website that allows any person online to sign up for classes led by some of the most renowned professors in the world. The website is currently partnering with Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania to provide classes to thousands of curious students.

Monica Rogati, senior research scientist for analytics at LinkedIn, took to the official LinkedIn Blog to give a rundown on the tech talk and how Coursera is accomplishing its goal of top universities educating millions of students. Rogati states that education is one area that has been resisting the efficiency brought on by the internet. She points out that tuition rates are skyrocketing and makes a point that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner made a month ago to the Bay Area Council: U.S. workers don't have the skills to fill the few jobs that are open.

Coursera is working to fix these problems by implementing higher education on a massive scale. Rogati states that the site has had over one million students sign up for classes. The classes often involve interactive quizzes that tailor themselves to each student. The streaming classes are the easy part. The hard part is grading thousands of tests. From the blog post:

Coursera’s approach to feedback and assessment is a very interesting application of data science. Tests are either computer-graded or peer-graded — the latter following industry tested crowdsourcing best practices (clear instructions, gold standards, training, qualification tasks assessor agreement monitoring etc.). Peer grading isn’t just treated as a means for scaling — it is part of the learning process. One of Daphne’s charts showed that students significantly improved on subsequent tests after peer- and self-grading. Interestingly, the better students learned even more from self-grading than from grading others.

Evidently, communities are being built up around popular courses. Could this be the beginning of crowd-sourced learning or a social network college? Students are able to ask for help and receive it quickly due to the high volume of classmates. Rogati states the large numbers of students also provide learning opportunities for the professors, who can easily see where they are not getting through to the class.

LinkedIn's tech talks are normally posted to the LinkedIn Tech Talks YouTube channel. The Coursera presentation will, presumably, be uploaded soon.