USC — Even as education technology floods into classrooms across the world, educators haven’t always been able to make sure it’s making a difference. A new center at the University of Southern California will attempt to make that technology more informative for personalized learning and instruction.
The Center for Human-Applied Reasoning and the Internet of Things, or CHARIOT, is a new partnership between the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. It aims to bring education and engineering together in a way that will help educators gather real-time data about how students are learning and how teachers should personalize instruction for each student.

“I think it’s vitally important that personalized education begins right now,” says USC Provost Michael Quick. “By bringing big data, and engineering and artificial intelligence principles to bear on something like personalized education, it’s going to have a transformational impact.”

“Advances in personalized learning” is one of the “14 Grand Challenges for Engineering,” according to the Washington-based National Academy of Engineering.

An essential aspect of personalized learning is being able to evaluate such things as the level of a student’s cognitive engagement and emotions. The Internet of Things is a connected network of sensing devices, such as the now familiar wristbands that record how far someone walks and their heart rate. Data from such sensors can be used for providing just in time learning interventions.

If sensor measurements are carefully correlated with more traditional assessments of student learning, it would enable teachers to know which students need help, when they need help and what help they need, and possibly also give feedback and suggestions to individual students about what they could be doing to enhance their learning.

CHARIOT will be co-directed by Kenneth Yates, professor of clinical education at the USC Rossier School of Education; Rao Machiraju, executive-in-residence at the USC Rossier School of Education; and Bhaskar Krishnamachari, Ming Hsieh Fellow and professor of electrical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

About the USC Rossier School of Education: The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education is to improve learning in urban education locally, nationally and globally. Rossier leads the field in innovative, collaborative solutions to improve education outcomes.

About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering: Engineering Studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. Nearly a century later, in 2004, the Viterbi School of Engineering received a naming gift from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, inventor of the Viterbi algorithm, now the key to cell phone technology and numerous data applications. USC Viterbi is ranked among the top engineering programs in the world and enrolls more than 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students taught by 185 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 73 endowed chairs and professorships.