Ed-Tech Notebook: Twitter Bullying Scanner Debuts

By Ian Quillen — August 09, 2012 2 min read
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As we recently told you in the pages of Education Week, researchers who focus on educational applications for the ability of computers to interact with human language—known as natural language processing—hope that, in an ideal world, computers would be able to supplement the work of educators by performing jobs too labor intensive for humans to do thoroughly.

To that end, computer scientists at the University of Wisconsin last week announced the creation of a program designed to scour the entire world of Twitter for signs of cyberbullying, according to a story on Good Education magazine’s website.

The program was able to find 15,000 bullying-related tweets, out of the roughly 250 million issued across cyberspace during the course of a day, according to the story.

Researchers hope to develop the program further so it can also recognize danger signs pointing to children who are in need of an adult intervention, as well as creating ways to show bullied children that others like them also suffer cyberbullying, a release from the university says. That latter knowledge, researchers say, can help blunt some of the psychological and emotional damage caused by bullying.

While Twitter may be the most simple social-media platform to be analyzed through artificial intelligence, since all interactions occur through the same basic level of 140-character communication, Facebook and other more dynamic social media sites could provide a richer level of analysis, researchers conceded in the release.

• Meanwhile, Educators in Nebraska beginning this school year will have access to more than 20,000 digital learning objects in the Nebraska Virtual Library, the Associated Press reports.

The library, part of the state’s larger Nebraska Virtual Partnership initiative launched by Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican, will include materials from the Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Public Broadcasting System, according to a release from the governor’s office. The library will live on the PBS Learning Media website.

The announcement is just the latest in a continuing trend of states, consortia, companies, and nonprofit organizations working to curate digital resources through central locations sometimes known as digital repositories.

• If you have any idea or an innovation applicable to the education world, you might want to consider entering the Software and Information Industry Association’s Innovation Incubator competition.

Submissions are due by September 26. Roughly a dozen finalists will be able to present their ideas to potential investors or partners at the SIIA’s Ed Tech Business Forum in New York in late November.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.