Chinese Education Company Funds Ryan Baker’s Research Lab on Adaptive Learning | Teachers College Columbia University

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Chinese Education Company Funds Ryan Baker’s Research Lab on Adaptive Learning


Ryan Baker, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, has received a $110,000 grant from, a Shanghai-based educational technology company, to establish a new collaborative research lab between Teachers College and Classba focused on the basic research of adaptive learning. The lab’s work could improve the capacity of Classba’s adaptive learning technologies in estimating students’ knowledge, modeling students’ engagement levels, and optimizing students’ learning paths.

Baker is one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of learning analytics, in which researchers mine data generated by tutoring systems and other online learning environments for patterns and correlations to identify challenges facing individual learners, classes and entire school systems. He also created and serves as Program Coordinator of TC's new master’s degree program in Learning Analytics, and is Associate Editor of the Journal of Educational Data Mining.

“This funding will enable us to expand our research on what students know and improve the quality of assessment,” Baker said.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Dr. Baker and with Teachers College, which has a long and distinguished history of partnership with China that includes preparing some of our leading educators at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Jeff Wang, Co-Founder of Classba. “We look forward to growing this partnership and hope that other TC faculty and students will work with us in the future.”

Speaking at a launch event to celebrate the new partnership, Suzanne M. Murphy, TC’s Vice President of Development & External Affairs, said that Baker is “fast becoming a TC rock star who is following in the footsteps of many TC greats who have created new fields and used data to greatly improve what we need to know to improve learning.” 

Classba, which also operates tutoring centers across China, seeks to bring personalized learning to children worldwide. It is currently piloting an adaptive learning system in Shanghai and schools in the Henan province in central China. The company’s near-term plans include deployment of its system in second- and third-tier cities in China. In those cities, personalized learning is out of reach to most students, and qualified teachers are in short supply for tutoring services. The system will be used in Classba’s tutoring centers, on its online platform, and by other Chinese companies with which it is partnering.

“China has over 200 million students in K-12 education, so there is a great need for high-quality education resources,” Wang says. “We can’t prepare enough qualified teachers overnight, but technology can help fill that gap and make the distribution of education broader and fairer, which is important for China and the world.” – Joe Levine

Published Monday, Dec 28, 2015

Ryan Baker
Ryan Baker, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies