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  • Another MOOC-bottleneck solved

    - Computers can perform miracles, but grading essays is beyond their reach. Or at least, it was beyond their reach, until a 22-year old Ecuadorian student solved the puzzle.

    22-year old mechanical engineering major Luis Tandalla (University of New Orleans) created an algorithm that improves computerized grading of short essays. With this invention Tandalla has tackled one of the major problems with online education: the grading of huge numbers of students. He won a $50.000 prize for this solution at the Kaggle competition site.

    While it is easy to have thousands or even millions of students following an online course, it is extremely difficult to test these virtual students on a massive scale. Computers are of limited use when it comes to assessing students’ answers.

    70.000 students a week

    What is even more exceptional: in order to be able to write his prize-winning algorithm, Luis Tandalla took Stanford’s already famous online course on ‘machine learning’ by Andrew Ng which is offered through Coursera.

    With the current speed online education is developing – every week some 70.000 students sign up for the 200 Coursera courses – it will not be long before other computational problems will be solved.