How MOOCs and Big Data could lead to Less Diverse Hiring: Those Who Could Be Left Behind

April 10, 2014 at 8:02 am 4 comments

Yup, Herminia has the problem right — if CS MOOCs are even more white and male than our face-to-face CS classes, and if hiring starts to rely on big data from MOOCs, we become even less diverse.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  One of the developments that will undoubtedly cement the relationship between big data and talent processes is the rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs.  Business schools are jumping into them whole hog.  Soon, your MOOC performance will be sold to online recruiters taking advantage of the kinds of information that big data allows—fine distinctions not only on content assimilation but also participation, contribution to, and status within associated online communities.  But what if these new possibilities—used by recruiters and managers to efficiently and objectively get the best talent—only bake in current inequities? Or create new ones?

via Herminia’s Blog: Hiring and Big Data: Those Who Could Be Left Behind.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  April 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Never mind subtle arguments about data mining of MOOC performance. Given who’s currently taking MOOCs, and given that this is likely to stay the same in the foreseeable future, it’s already just a rich-get-richer world — _disguised_ as a “we’re saving the poor children of Africa” world. I’m still waiting for when MOOC graduates end up significantly changing in population distribution.

  • 2. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  April 10, 2014 at 11:34 am

    In my mail this morning:
    “The Online Revolution: Education for Everyone”

    So there, Mark.

    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  April 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      I just checked — the ACM Ubiquity symposium on MOOCs starts next week. I’ve got a piece in the series that addresses these issues.

  • 4. Raul Miller  |  April 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Note that this assumes that “being rich” is a socially positive factor in a person’s life. This, in turn, suggests that the rich contribute something positive to other people’s lives.

    At the moment, I’m not actually convinced that either of these suggestions is correct. To me, as a long time computing professional, it seems that “being rich” is more of a social thing – “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – and that after a certain point money ceases to be about being productive and instead becomes more of a social game.

    (Of course, quality of life also suffers for the extreme poor, but that’s not the current topic.)

    If my suspicions are correct, the smartest and most productive people cannot be rich but instead are those who occasionally dip into economic activities as a mechanism to support their offerings of service to others.

    Put differently: the efforts of recruiters (and of “big data”) might have considerably less social relevance than we like to think.


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