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  1. Jun 2016
    1. An executive at a large provider of digital learning tools pushed back against what he saw as Thille’s “complaint about capitalism.”

      Why so coy?

      R.G. Wilmot Lampros, chief product officer for Aleks, says the underlying ideas, referred to as Knowledge Space Theory, were developed by professors at the University of California at Irvine and are in the public domain. It's "there for anybody to vet," he says. But McGraw-Hill has no more plans to make its analytics algorithms public than Google would for its latest search algorithm.

      "I know that there are a few results that our customers have found counterintuitive," Mr. Lampros says, but the company's own analyses of its algebra products have found they are 97 percent accurate in predicting when a student is ready to learn the next topic.

      As for Ms. Thille's broader critique, he is unpersuaded. "It's a complaint about capitalism," he says. The original theoretical work behind Aleks was financed by the National Science Foundation, but after that, he says, "it would have been dead without business revenues."

      MS. THILLE stops short of decrying capitalism. But she does say that letting the market alone shape the future of learning analytics would be a mistake.