Campuses are places of intuition and serendipity: A professor senses confusion on a student’s face and repeats his point; a student majors in psychology after a roommate takes a course; two freshmen meet on the quad and eventually become husband and wife.
Now imagine hard data substituting for happenstance.
As Katye Allisone, a freshman at Arizona State University, hunkers down in a computer lab for an 8:35 a.m. math class, the Web-based course watches her back. Answers, scores, pace, click paths–it hoovers up information, like Google. But rather than personalizing search results, data shape Ms. Allisone’s class according to her understanding of the material.