What does data and experiment tell?

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Together with the emergence of MOOC practices, we see an increasing number of MOOC researches. I met people who are excited about big data and controlled experiment, who believe the power of data and experiment in improving learning and teaching. 

a.aaa-cat-calculatingAt a coffee with M, he raised an extremely good point – what does all these research really tell?

I was reading MIT post doc’s work on [how video production affects student engagement] this week. The article, based on data of four courses, concludes shorter videos, informal instruction style, video with a talking head are more engaging. That is a statistic conclusion but does it mean all our courses will be shorter, with an informal speaking instructor’s head? If so, are we going to take the course with higher completion rate and use its instruction style as a standard formula for all?

I read research papers as if I were reading comic books. The difference is, with a comic book I just need remember the plot and main figure; with a research paper, many times we rely on their applications. 

Some people think learning is a pure science, data will be a great way to interpret, analyse and present it. Somehow, I believe there is more to it. 

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