Automatic Assessment in Online Learning

MIT Prof. Anant Agarwal on learning online, innovations in campus education, and MOOC certificates

videos | June 6, 2014

How to make up an assessment system for millions of students? Will online courses someday displace campus education? Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT Anant Agarwal speaks on the impact of MOOCs on educational system.

Today in experimental form we can also grade essays which are open text response questions using a technology called ORA – open response assessment where rather than having a human grade in essay we can use artificial intelligence techniques or machine learning to grade essays. We can also grade essays using what we call peer learning where you can build a system where students grade each other’s essays after having trained on a certain number of essays.

We’ve built a number of online laboratories heavily using simulation. So we have a circuits lab, for example, where student can build a circuit just like the building Legos online. And then we use simulation to simulate the circuit and check to see if it matches the expected answer by checking waveforms as an example. So we are developing within edX a lot of technologies to be able to automatically assess things like laboratories, open response text questions and other sophisticated types of questions like equations and matrix and chemical equations and so on.

Our courses have videos that the students can watch at their own pace, the automatic assessments like automatic labs, they have things like automatic assessments with essays and so on. There are a number of ways in which they can be assessed, there are also discussion forums where they can interact with each other, social networks, all of these things and at the end they even get a certificate from the University from which they took the course. So this is a complete course experience without the campus of course. But different students engage in different ways. Some students what the whole experience and they go all the way to get a certificate. Other students just want to get a little bit of the course, they just want to watch the introductory videos and just get a high-level sense of what this subject is about and they don’t care to get the whole experience and so they just watch a little bit and window shopping then they go away.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President of edX
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