Campus News

GSE lecture addresses how students learn amid flood of technology


Published March 10, 2017

Personalizing education for the 21st century is the topic of this year’s talk in the Graduate School of Education Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series on March 27.

The talk, which will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theater, North Campus, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will follow the talk. Those interested in attending the free event can register online.

“The Graduate School of Education Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series is for our entire campus and local communities,” says Jaekyung Lee, professor and dean of the Graduate School of Education. “This year’s lecture theme, ‘personalizing education for the 21st century,’ should resonate with many people who had any challenging times or frustrating learning experiences during their K-12 or college education.”

Delivering the lecture will be Timothy A. McKay, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Education at the University of Michigan. His talk is titled “Why Learning Analytics: Personalizing Education for the 21st Century.”

McKay is director of the Honors Program for UM’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts, as well as a data scientist who has done extensive research in astrophysics and education.

In his work in education, he looks at the information available regarding how students learn best in a post-technological world that includes the distractions of social media and the ability to access information at the touch of a button.

In 2011, his team created the ECoach support system that provides electronic coaching via personalized messaging to students in large introductory STEM courses, and in 2014, he launched the National Science Foundation-funded REBUILD project, a university-wide effort to increase the use of evidence-based methods in introductory STEM courses. In 2015, he founded the Digital Innovation Greenhouse, an education technology accelerator within the UM Office of Academic Innovation.

“I expect that Dr. McKay, a thought leader and innovator in this field, will help us understand new tools and realize untapped potential of all students,” says Lee. “We are proud of hosting this lecture here at UB, a national leader of college completion success with the Finish-in-Four initiative.”

McKay and UB hope to use this research to vastly improve the student experience and educational outcomes for students getting their postsecondary degrees.

“If you find that any classes are too boring or too difficult, that means that education is not optimally personalized for you,” Lee says. “Education is currently losing its race with technology. However, the combination of new technologies and learning analytics would provide educators with new tools and opportunities for educational innovation.”