Week 8 Summary: Are We Really That Transparent?

This week we have been looking at algorithms and how they work and what effects do they have on our lives.  As a teacher, I am always on the lookout for a better way of doing something, and doing it more efficiently.  So, this week I looked more specifically at student academic behavior and what algorithms we use to not only predict academic success but do explain the lack of academic success.

I looked at a few algorithms based upon desired outcomes.  One was the solving of Rubik’s Cube.  A simple algorithm but inherently infuriating to follow to success (at least for me).  The algorithm follows a straight-forward precept that if you do this then this will happen.  There is no human element involved if you don’t account for patience and perseverance.  http://bit.ly/2mfTMvU

Mudeen wrote an article, which I have referenced in a previous post on my Lifestream.  A guest at a school was asked to analyze a student’s academic performance.  The guest’s analysis was incorrect based upon the fact that he failed to consider the human side of the student such as socio-economic status or motivation to succeed.  I find this to be true in my own teaching experience.  A teacher cannot always predict what a student will or will not do, by looking at a previously determined set of rules or certain biases of one sort or another.

And then of course there are the algorithms used by Facebook. YouTube, Pinterest, and others, that offer me articles and visuals in the same genre as what I have viewed previously.  But again, algorithms cannot seem to consider the human element.  What if my interests change?  What if while reading through offerings on a particular subject matter, I wish to see an opposing view?  An NPR study found that search algorithms are unable to adequately deal with that type of deviance from what algorithms predict my behavior should be.  http://n.pr/2mfRgWp

Mubeen, J. (2016) Humanizing Education’s Algorithms. EdsurgeNews, June 10, 2016