Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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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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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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

Thoughts from the California Information Communication Technologies Industry Advisory Committee

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I flew down to San Diego last night to participate in the Statewide Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Industry Advisory Committee.  It helped me to remember how important ICT education is.  We had a great group of folks at the meeting, with a lot of passion and experience in supporting the students of California to becoming our next generation of “computer nerds”.

But it also brought back to me, about how our education system isn’t keeping up and changing for the needs of our next generation.  Technology is our future, and of any industry sector (other than potentially energy), it is the use or abuse of technology will make the biggest difference to the future of human kind. And educational content standards, and the related curriculum, can either be what will give our students the knowledge that will be needed when they graduate; or force irrelevant content on them, leading to more disillusion with our education system; and at the same time lead to more unemployment.

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April 20th, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Will California have the Wisdom to Elect Delaine Eastin?

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Delaine EastinYesterday, Delaine Eastin officially announced her candidacy for governor.  In an era of short-term thinking, her candidacy is more important than ever.

Why?  Because as the first President Bush once said “Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”  And Delaine is the only candidate to see that the problems of today, which are real, can only be solved through long-term thinking, which focuses on education.

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January 27th, 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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September 1st, 2016 at 11:59 am

Thought of the Day: Thriving in the World of the Future requires Learning in the Manner of the Past

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I ran into two articles this morning about education from the Washington Post that on the surface seem very different, yet truly dovetail into each other.   The first is the fact that education in the United States is not providing the skills to the population that will be needed for the 21st century, even though it is in vogue to say things are “21st Century Skills”.   One only needs to look to the fact that Common Core requires teaching imaginary numbers but never mentions binary to see we have a problem.  The other article was about how we screw up learning in school so often, and how instructional fads that are said to be absolutely true at the time, are often not.  Along the same lines, it is worth considering what has happened when kids have just gotten to use a computer, and how much they learned on their own.

 

 

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August 22nd, 2016 at 11:59 am

Dr. Felix Bankole has accepted me as a doctoral student

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I am very excited this morning.  This past year, my doctoral studies hit some snags, as I was having troubles “seeing eye to eye” with my supervising professor within the College of Education at UNISA.  And while the Dean of the College of Education was very understanding, she couldn’t find anyone within the the College of Education who could supervise my research.  Most of this has to do with the fact that my research is interdisciplinary, and heavily relies upon data mining methods.  So, I started looking at the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, and wrote to Dr. Bankole, and today I received an email that he will take me on!

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July 20th, 2016 at 6:33 am