Challenges, Opportunities, and Trends in EdTech

The Data Exchange Podcast: Sharon Zhou discusses novel trends in EdTech and applications of her research in Generative Adversarial Networks.

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In this episode of the Data Exchange, our special correspondent and managing editor Jenn Webb and I speak with Sharon Zhou, a PhD student in Computer Science at Stanford University. Sharon has been teaching very popular courses on GANs (generative adversarial networks) on Coursera. In this conversation we  examine the state of Education Technology (EdTech), learning platforms, and other tools for teaching online. A year into the global pandemic, we discuss advantages and disadvantages of various technologies for delivering classes, as well as broader issues in education.

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As Sharon noted, the pandemic has forced companies to innovate and to work around infrastructure challenges, including having limited bandwidth and spotty internet connectivity:

    ❛ At the very beginning of the pandemic, I thought: “wow, Netflix streaming is amazing.” … Why is entertainment so optimized? Can we get educational content to be better?  There are people who are very actively working on it and working on very specific ways to compress that information to make it very easy to stream and access by people who do not have great internet access.  … You don’t necessarily, in some cases, need real-time instruction. Real-time becomes very challenging because you need higher bandwidth. But when it’s asynchronous, when there’s a video that’s pre-recorded, it is slightly easier for people to access and be able to download and then watch in a place that’s completely offline.

We also took the opportunity to discuss Sharon’s work on deep learning, including her work using GANs to help the general public and policy makers to better understand the implications of climate change.

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