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Personalized Online Education — A Crowdsourcing Challenge

AAAI Conferences

Interest in online education is surging, as dramatized bythe success of Khan Academy and recent Stanford online courses, but the technology for online education isin its infancy. Crowdsourcing mechanisms will likelybe essential in order to reach the full potential of thismedium. This paper sketches some of the challengesand directions we hope HCOMP researchers will address.


Sequential Voting Promotes Collective Discovery in Social Recommendation Systems

AAAI Conferences

One goal of online social recommendation systems is to harness the wisdom of crowds in order to identify high quality content. Yet the sequential voting mechanisms that are commonly used by these systems are at odds with existing theoretical and empirical literature on optimal aggregation. This literature suggests that sequential voting will promote herding---the tendency for individuals to copy the decisions of others around them---and hence lead to suboptimal content recommendation. Is there a problem with our practice, or a problem with our theory? Previous attempts at answering this question have been limited by a lack of objective measurements of content quality. Quality is typically defined endogenously as the popularity of content in absence of social influence. The flaw of this metric is its presupposition that the preferences of the crowd are aligned with underlying quality. Domains in which content quality can be defined exogenously and measured objectively are thus needed in order to better assess the design choices of social recommendation systems. In this work, we look to the domain of education, where content quality can be measured via how well students are able to learn from the material presented to them. Through a behavioral experiment involving a simulated massive open online course (MOOC) run on Amazon Mechanical Turk, we show that sequential voting systems can surface better content than systems that elicit independent votes.


Improving Latent User Models in Online Social Media

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Modern social platforms are characterized by the presence of rich user-behavior data associated with the publication, sharing and consumption of textual content. Users interact with content and with each other in a complex and dynamic social environment while simultaneously evolving over time. In order to effectively characterize users and predict their future behavior in such a setting, it is necessary to overcome several challenges. Content heterogeneity and temporal inconsistency of behavior data result in severe sparsity at the user level. In this paper, we propose a novel mutual-enhancement framework to simultaneously partition and learn latent activity profiles of users. We propose a flexible user partitioning approach to effectively discover rare behaviors and tackle user-level sparsity. We extensively evaluate the proposed framework on massive datasets from real-world platforms including Q&A networks and interactive online courses (MOOCs). Our results indicate significant gains over state-of-the-art behavior models ( 15% avg ) in a varied range of tasks and our gains are further magnified for users with limited interaction data. The proposed algorithms are amenable to parallelization, scale linearly in the size of datasets, and provide flexibility to model diverse facets of user behavior.