EduSense: Like a FitBit for your teaching skills

November 06, 2019

While training and feedback opportunities abound for K-12 educators, the same can't be said for instructors in higher education. Currently, the most effective mechanism for professional development is for an expert to observe a lecture and provide personalized feedback. But a new system developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers offers a comprehensive real-time sensing system that is inexpensive and scalable to create a continuous feedback loop for the instructor.

The system, called EduSense, analyzes a variety of visual and audio features that correlate with effective instruction. "Today, the teacher acts as the sensor in the classroom, but that's not scalable," said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). Harrison said classroom sizes have ballooned in recent decades, and it's difficult to lecture and be effective in large or auditorium-style classes.

EduSense is minimally obtrusive. It uses two wall-mounted cameras -- one facing students and one facing the instructor. It senses things such as students' posture to determine their engagement, and how much time instructors pause before calling on a student. "These are codified things that educational practitioners have known as best practices for decades," Harrison said.

A single off-the-shelf camera can view everyone in the classroom and automatically identify information such as where students are looking, how often they're raising their hands and if the instructor moves through the space instead of staying behind a podium. The system uses OpenPose, another CMU project, to extract body position. "With advances in computer vision and machine learning, we can now provide insights that would take days if not months to get with manual observation," said Karan Ahuja, a member of the research team who is pursuing his Ph.D. in the HCII.

Harrison said learning scientists are interested in the instructional data. "Because we can track the body, it's like wearing a suit of accelerometers. We know how much you're turning your head and moving your hands. It's like you're wearing a virtual motion-capture system while you're teaching."

Using high-resolution cameras steaming 4K video for many classes at once is a "computational nightmare," Harrison said. To keep up, resources are elastically assigned to provide the best possible frame rate for real-time data.

The project also has a strong focus on privacy protection, guided by Yuvraj Agarwal, an associate professor in the university's Institute for Software Research. The team didn't want to identify individual students, and EduSense can't. No names or identifying information is used, and since camera data is processed in real time, it is discarded quickly.

Now that the team has demonstrated that they can capture the data, HCII faculty member Amy Ogan said their current challenge is wrapping it up and presenting it in a way that's educationally effective. The team will continue working on instructor-facing apps to see if professors can integrate the feedback into practice. "We have been focused on understanding how, when and where to best present feedback based on this data so that it is meaningful and useful to instructors to help them improve their practice," she said.

This research has been presented at Ubicomp, the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, and will be presented this coming April at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting.
-end-


Carnegie Mellon University

Related Higher Education Articles from Brightsurf:

New study outlines steps higher education should take to prepare a new quantum workforce
A new study outlines ways colleges and universities can update their curricula to prepare the workforce for a new wave of quantum technology jobs.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Boys' poor reading skills might help explain higher education gender gap
Researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Essex in the United Kingdom found boys' poor reading skills in adolescence, combined with the social attitudes about women attending college, can help explain why fewer men than women enroll in higher education or other types of post-high school education.

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Schools less important than parents in determining higher education aspirations
A new study shows that the elementary school a child attends has almost no influence on their desire to progress to higher education -- as factors including parental aspirations, academic support from their mother and having a desk to work on are much more important.

Higher education holds key to more age-friendly society, publication says
The age-friendly movement is an ideal means of embracing demographic shifts in higher education and society at large, according to the latest issue in the What's Hot newsletter series from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), titled 'Higher Education and Aging: The Age-Friendly Movement -- Building a Case for Age Inclusivity.' Support for the publication was provided by AARP.

In blacks with Alzheimer's gene, higher education may be protective
A new study from Columbia University found that a higher level of education protected against cognitive decline in black people with a gene linked to Alzheimer's disease.

WVU study reveals falsification issues in higher education hiring processes
When concerns are expressed about distrust in science, they often focus on whether the public trusts research findings.

Job sharing can boost number of women in senior higher education roles
Research from Lancaster University Management School, shows job sharing offers a route to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles in higher education.

Read More: Higher Education News and Higher Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.