Watson - the Next Professor?
Pp. 62-72 (11)
Christina Chow and Clement Leung
This chapter looks at the explosive increase in the creation of data in recent
decades. The digital universe is estimated to be of the order of a billion trillion (1021)
bytes. All the advanced knowledge required for undergraduate, postgraduate and
research degrees is housed somewhere inside the Web. Not only does the Web become
an indispensable supplement to the part played by lecturers, in some instances, it
constitutes the core curricula of some university degrees. With the Web housing
virtually unlimited amounts of knowledge reachable by a variety of devices, the key is
to find efficient means of identifying and accessing them. While search engines help to
narrow down the right kind of knowledge on the Web, the ability to produce answers
from them still requires considerable human judgement. Consequently, these engines
are still not designed to be used directly and automatically for instructional purposes.
The chapter also looks at the possibility of developing an automatic system which is
able to answer questions, and so replace the role of the human lecturer. A recent
breakthrough which seriously threatens the job of the university lecturer has arrived in
the form of Watson. The Massive Open Online Courses have the advantages of
ubiquitous anytime learning offering great flexibility but they do not have the
capability to fully replace the conventional physical lecture room with its face-to-face
interaction and hands-on laboratory experiments.
Analytic query, Big Data, E-Learning, MOOCs, Online-to-Offline,
PageRank algorithm, Question Answering (QA) system, Semantic Web, Web.
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.