Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for the ‘Educational Technology’ Category

5 Ways Data Science and the Intelligent Web can help Schools and Education

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5 ways to...This past week, I shared a simplified introduction to what is done with data science/machine learning/data mining/predictive analytics work, and the major tasks / roles.  This coming week I’m going to share about how I think data science combined with the “intelligent web” (sometimes called Web 3.0 or above) can benefit human education and thus humanity.  Some of these ideas can be done at the school level, others are probably better done by vendors, and yet others are best done by governmental organizations or associations.  But each of them can make a big difference, if done well and ethically.  And to not keep you too much in suspense, here are the ones I’ll be posting about this week:

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Data Artistry: Using and Sharing the Knowledge in an Effective Manner

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Can you picture that?” – Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

The final stage of doing data science/machine learning/data mining/predictive analytics is to use the results, which generally involves some form of communication to one or more types of audiences.  This, I will term “data artistry”. (This is not necessarily a common term used, but it does have some precedence in specific contexts)

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May 12th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Data Mining: Discovering Gold in your Data

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There’s gold in dem dere data!” – Adaptation of the original quote from M. F. Stephenson

After the data has been gathered and in a form that can be used, it can then have an appropriate algorithm used to accomplish the data mining/machine learning/predictive analytics. This is the stage that traditionally has been called “data mining” because it is the part that gets additional value from the data in the form of some type of knowledge (this is why early on, the process was sometimes called “knowledge discovery in data” (KDD).

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 11th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Data Wrangling: Gathering the Data You Need in a Form You Can Use

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Data! Data! Data!’ I can’t make bricks without clay.” – Sherlock Holmes

Before data science/machine learning/data mining/predictive analytics can be done, you need to have the data you are going to use.  This may see obvious, but in many cases there is more to this step than may first be assumed, and the whole process is what I will call “data wrangling”, although has other names like “data munging”.

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May 10th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Data Surfing: The Oft Forgotten First Stage of Discovery

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You got to drift in the breeze before you set your sails. It’s an occupation where the wind prevails. Before you set your sails drift in the breeze.” – Paul Simon

Many texts about data science (including machine learning, data mining, and predictive analytics) don’t include much about the very first step of the process, which is the step where you come up with what your goal is for your other steps.  In traditional science, this might be called the step of making your hypothesis.

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 9th, 2017 at 11:59 am

The Four Major Activities of Data Science / Machine Learning

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Recently there was a post on LinkedIn by Erle Hall, lead for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for the California Department of Education (CDE) with a diagram about machine learning.  That diagram had 6 steps: Select Data, Model Data, Validate Model, Test Model, Use the Model, and Tune Model.    Those 6 steps mostly encapsulate what traditionally has been called the “data mining” phase.  But there are 3 other important phases, which I will call “data surfing”, “data wrangling” and “data artistry”.  (These names were chosen to be easier to understand and more interesting for students, but also go by different names)  I also personally prefer to use the term “algorithm” instead of “model”, because while traditionally in data science, statistical models were used, there are now often times methods like neural networks and other such algorithms that are less like a traditional statistical model.  In the next few posts, I’ll dive into each of these 4 steps, and give a basic explanation of what each step does, and why the step is important.

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May 8th, 2017 at 11:59 am

SIS Review: Aspen – Great for Large School Systems

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My first review of various SISes is that of Aspen by Follett.  When Highlands Community Charter School recently was looking to switch to a new SIS, Aspen was in our top 3 choices, and only barely lost out to PowerSchool.  During our review process, I had the chance to look at a sandbox system (demo) of their product for about a week, and we asked a lot of questions to their sales rep, Dylan Holcomb.   As a matter of disclosure, I should note that Dylan was a friend from high school, but I think this review is fairly objective, as there are clearly things I don’t like about the product, along with many things I really like.  I have written about Aspen previously also.

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September 2nd, 2016 at 11:59 am

A Series of Reviews of Student Information Systems (SIS)

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For over 10 years I’ve worked with about 7 different Student Information Systems (SIS), too one degree or another.  Since I have generally worked with these both from the back-end (database administrator and institutional researcher) as well as from the front-end (teacher and school administrator), this puts me in a fairly unique position to be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each system.  Thus, I thought I should share my thoughts on the different SISes that I have had experience with, in order to help schools and school systems in choosing one.

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Written by Jacob Walker

September 1st, 2016 at 11:59 am