Beyond Prediction: New Frontiers in Learning

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A new partnership between several high-profile vendors and more than 50 colleges and universities promises to take technology in education to a new level, one never before seen or even imagined. The system moves beyond competency-based education and predictive analytics, introducing the concept of determinative analytics. Rather than simply assessing what you know and forecasting your likelihood of success in particular courses or majors, determinative analytics actually decides how you perform in academic settings. Unlike systems that tell you what courses you should take, this system tells you what courses you will take. And then it takes them for you. It’s called Algorithm-Based Learning and Education (ABLE).

Here’s how it works: ABLE gathers information about you to create a broad, living profile. Data sources include academic history starting with elementary school, social media history, online shopping, online gaming, text messages, and phone calls (if you still make actual calls with your smartphone). If you use a Fitbit or a similar device, it accesses that data, as well as all of your medical records. If you have a criminal record, ABLE knows that. It accesses your bank accounts. Your travel history is included, as are TV programs you watch and music you like. It has access to your old MySpace account (if you’re old enough to have one).

When you are ready to sign up for classes, you log in to ABLE and click a single button that says “Register.” The next-generation algorithm gets to work, comparing your profile to that of millions of other students across thousands of colleges and universities, running through literally billions of permutations of courses, majors, and careers. Once it selects the best path for you, the system completes all the coursework exactly the way you would have, had you taken those courses. In doing so, the system generates an exhaustive e-portfolio that represents your higher education experience, including extracurricular activities.

All this happens in about 90 seconds, and you get your degree. Tuition is the same as for a standard degree, but because ABLE takes no time, you can enter the workplace immediately and not miss out on those earning years. As soon as you finish your ABLE degree, the system writes all of your learning information to a higher education blockchain, where it will remain forever and cannot be changed.

Developers of ABLE have a long list of enhancements on the agenda, including a feature for college applications. When released, this feature will decide which colleges you should apply to, submit those applications, and choose the institution where you will earn your ABLE degree.

This article is part of EDUCAUSE Special Coverage for April 2017.

Copyright: © 2017 EDUCAUSE. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.