Monthly Archives: June 2017

All About Machine Learning

Machine learning is widely considered to be one of today’s hottest fields. But many of today’s students are unaware of what machine learning is and why it matters so much. Wondering whether you’ve got a future in machine learning? Here’s a closer look at this increasingly important area, along with why it matters so much.

What is Machine Learning?

SAS defines machine learning as “a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. Using algorithms that iteratively learn from data, machine learning allows computers to find hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look.”

Princeton University lecturer Rob Schapire puts it in simpler terms: “Machine learning studies computer algorithms for learning to do stuff. We might, for instance, be interested in learning to complete a task, or to make accurate predictions, or to behave intelligently. The learning that is being done is always based on some sort of observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction. So in general, machine learning is about learning to do better in the future based on what was experienced in the past.”

Why Machine Learning Matters

With the power of machine learning, says SAS, “it’s possible to quickly and automatically produce models that can analyze bigger, more complex data and deliver faster, more accurate results – even on a very large scale. And by building precise models, an organization has a better chance of identifying profitable opportunities – or avoiding unknown risks.” This leads to improved decision-making capabilities independent of human intervention with applications in a broad range of industries, including financial services, government, healthcare, marketing and sales, oil and gas, and transportation.

Machine learning is so promising, in fact, that Business Insider recently declared it to be “a revolution as big as the internet or personal computers.” With a track record of world-changing developments including everything from Amazon product recommendations to Google’s self-driving car, machine learning has already changed the world and how we live in it.

But that’s all just the beginning, according to experts like computer scientist and author of “The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake our World” Pedro Domingos, who told BI, “There were two stages to the information age. One stage is where we had to program computers, and the second stage, which is now beginning, is where computers can program themselves by looking at data.”

Meanwhile, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt forecasts that machine learning “will be the basis and fundamentals of every successful huge IPO win in five years.”

Machine learning is also lauded for its potential to improve customer care by automating certain tasks. Machines don’t always outperform humans — especially in matters of high-touch decision making — but in improving both efficiency and efficacy where technology prevails, machine learning can free people up to focus on what they do best.

And while we often think of machine learning as future terrain, it’s also happening all around us, including in the higher education space as a means of improving teaching and learning. Moving forward, it will support unprecedented personalized learning for use by everyone from students to advisors. In other words, with a background in machine learning, you can not only change the world, you can also apply what you know much closer to home.

Is Machine Learning for You?

Of course, machine learning studies aren’t for everyone. But if you possess an interest in and aptitude for computer science fundamentals and programming; probability and statistics; data modeling and evaluation; and software engineering and system design, you may be suited for an in-demand career in this red-hot field.

The reality is, however, that if you want to “future-proof” your career, these subjects may be the key.

Concludes The Atlantic on career planning for today’s college students, “Students who are embarking upon their college studies should embrace one of two possible career strategies. The first is to look for jobs that are likely to favor human capabilities over artificial intelligence—jobs that depend less on having great swathes of technical knowledge than on having creativity and strong interpersonal skills, such as the ability to empathize. The second career strategy is to aim to be directly involved in the development and delivery of these increasingly capable systems, for example as a systems engineer, a data scientist, an AI specialist, or a knowledge engineer. In short, students can plan to compete with machines or to build the machines.”

 

Learn More About Study Smart Tips

You know how to study—at least, you know how to study in the context of high school. But college is a whole new ball game, and you’ll need to develop a new set of study skills. Luckily, we have some insider advice for taking your study habits to the major leagues.

Study smart tip #1: don’t cram

According to a recent research study published by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), students who forego sleep to pull “all-nighters” and cram prior to a big test are more likely to perform poorly the following day. Ample sleep is critical for academic success. Students should keep a consistent study schedule leading up to their test and get a good night’s sleep to ensure a great result.

Study smart tip #2: seek out effective study tools

Whether it’s using flashcards or re-reading passages in a text or e-book, all students have their own way of assessing their preparedness prior to a test. However, there are tools available that make the studying process much easier, more engaging and more effective. (You can check out McGraw-Hill LearnSmart™, an adaptive “digital tutor” that continuously assesses students’ knowledge and skills and provides personalized recommendations that helps them master content over time, as well as the McGraw-Hill Tegrity Campus, a comprehensive lecture capture system that allows students to “relive” the lectures that aren’t fresh in their minds.)

Study smart tip #3: jump around

A majority of students naturally review material for a test or a midterm in the order in which it was taught; that is, going through notes in chronological order. This type of studying, also known as “blocking,” may be effective for some, but research out of the University of South Florida suggests otherwise. If you study “out of order,” according to the research, you are more likely to retain standalone knowledge and are therefore able to recall information in a randomized way, which is how many tests are designed. Studying in sequence is restrictive, and forces you to remember content in the order in which it was studied.

Study smart tip #4: power down

The 21st century student is an avid “digital multi-tasker,” capable of answering the phone, reading and sending a text message or e-mail, and listening to music all while preparing for a test. Though this might be considered “the new normal,” these distractions might—according to research by Stanford University—negatively impact a student’s ability to retain and accurately recall information. While collaboration and discussion are an important part of the learning process, when it’s crunch time, students should opt for an environment that is quiet and void of any digital disturbances.

Study smart tip #5: books, then bed

A guide on memory issued by the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College recommends that students should review difficult material prior to bedtime, provided that a student is mentally and physically strong before hitting the pillow. This is because challenging information is oftentimes easier to remember after a good night’s rest, as the brain typically consolidates facts in your memory that are freshly accessible the next day.

Some Reasons You Should Study In Portugal

Olá! Welcome to Portugal—temperate climate, delicious cuisine, fine wines, stunning scenery and yes—excellent universities. Home to just over 10.3 million people on the Iberian Peninsula, this small nation boasts nearly instant access to beaches, cities, and everything in between.

Situated in southern Europe on the Atlantic Ocean, bordering Spain, Portugal’s culture stems from the ocean. With salt cod and grilled sardines as national dishes, the country boasts a rich culture. While many tourists flock to Algarve’s beaches, there are several smaller student-friendly towns—inland and coastal. Its architecture? Stunning. Most of it dates to the 15th and 16th centuries when Portugal was at the height of its maritime empire.

Let’s take a look at 6 reasons you should study in Portugal.

1. Cost of Living

Compared to the rest of Western Europe, Portugal is affordable. For under $1000, you can manage fairly well in smaller student cities. Tuition and fees are also reasonably priced, especially for English-taught degrees. Room sharing is also common practice at many universities, so it’s possible to make your study abroad experience in Portugal even more affordable. Another nice feature? Student rates. Students can save up to 50 percent off the costs of museums and historic sites with student IDs. Restaurant life? More than manageable.

2. Coastline

With over 700 miles of coastline, Portugal is a dream for those who love the ocean—and it’s never too far away. Dramatic beaches. Fairytale cliffs. Untouched Atlantic landscapes. It’s worth a visit to see just its sheer beauty. Into watersports? Try scuba diving, surging, body boarding and yachting. Not into water sports? Channel some inner peace and watch the waves.

3. Education

Portugal offers world-class education. Of note in world rankings? The University of Lisbon has a range of studies and locations for any student’s needs. The Universidade Nova de Lisboa has a focus on the humanities and social sciences. At the University of Minho, you can opt for any number of specialty areas including education, economics, arts and sciences, architecture, and engineering,

4. Portuguese

Learn it! Not only is it beautiful, its similarities to Spanish and Italian will give you the ability to at least understand the other two languages. Most bachelor’s degrees are taught in Portuguese—but most master’s programs are in English. Either way, learning Portuguese can only benefit you. Think of it as a gateway to northern Africa and South America. Learning the language will also help you adjust not just to studying in a new place, but to learning new the new culture and customs. Listen. Before long, you’ll roll that “r” with the best of them.

5. Weather

It’s perfect. Its Mediterranean climate provides long, hot summers and short, rainy winters. Think of it as spring and summer with a need for a raincoat and a sweater sometimes. If you want to feel like you’re studying in a temperate Shangri-La, then consider Portugal.

6. Food

Among some of the best in Europe and the world—and most off-the-beaten path—the food in Portugal is exquisite. Most dishes center around meat, fish, or eggs—and you can expect some heavy meals. Don’t worry though, “Portuguese tapas” are becoming very popular, so you’ll have a chance to try a variety of food without stuffing yourself.

Put Portugal on your list of places to study abroad if you want a great education, the opportunity to learn a language rich in history and culture, the chance to visit a beautiful place, great friends, great food, and a reasonable cost of living.