MARCH 27: Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series | Timothy McKay, PhD | Monday, March 27, 2017
Facebook Live
Watch a video of this lecture on the Graduate School of Education's Facebook page.
Date: Monday, March 27, 2017
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Reception to follow)
Location: Student Union Theater in Student Union, University at Buffalo, North Campus
Cost: Free
Lecture: Open to the Public
Co-sponsored with the UB Center for Educational Innovation (CEI)


Contact the Graduate School of Education at 716-645-6640 or

About the Series

The University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education (GSE) Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series engages our local education community members, as well as faculty and students, with leading senior scholars in critical fields of education. Each year, the school brings to campus a distinguished scholar to present a special lecture on a topic relevant to education. Building on the university and school's strategic strengths, the series showcases and benchmarks impactful research and scholarship in the areas identified as strategic visions for the future of the university, as well as the Graduate School of Education.

The event is sponsored by the Adelle H. Land Memorial Fund and the Charlotte C. Acer Endowment for the Colloquia on Urban Education.

GSE is the home to nationally recognized programs, centers and faculty that contribute together to excellent teaching, research and service in the interest of better education for all.


“Why Learning Analytics: Personalizing Education for the 21st Century”

The 20th century began with an industrial revolution. In it, corporations achieved unprecedented efficiency through careful quantitative analysis and widespread standardization. Public higher education, growing at unprecedented rates, was caught in the trend. By 1950, this industrialized approach to higher education was entrenched: measured in credit hours, GPAs, and degrees.

The 21st century opened amidst an information revolution. It promises to change higher education as dramatically in this century as industrialization did in the last. Many aspects of education have already shifted; information is increasingly online, lectures are being flipped, and students are distracted in class by social media. But the real revolution will come when we harness information technology to personalize education.

We already gather rich and extensive information about each student’s background, interests, goals, activity, and current status. Technology supported personalization will enable us to act on this knowledge; to optimize our education of an increasingly diverse student body, create much greater student motivation and engagement, and accomplish more with less.


Timothy A. McKay, PhD
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Education | University of Michigan

Professor McKay is a data scientist, with extensive and various experience drawing inference from large data sets. In astrophysics, his main research tools have been the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Dark Energy Survey, and the simulations which support them both. His team uses these tools to probe the growth and nature of cosmic structure as well as the expansion history of the Universe, especially through studies of galaxy clusters. He has also studied astrophysical transients as part of the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment.

In education research, McKay does learning analytics: working to understand and improve postsecondary student outcomes using the rich, extensive, and complex digital data produced in the course of educating students in the 21st century. In 2011, his team created the ECoach computer tailored support system, and in 2014, he launched the REBUILD project, a college-wide effort to increase the use of evidence-based methods in introductory STEM courses. In 2015, he founded the Digital Innovation Greenhouse, an education technology accelerator within the UM Office of Academic Innovation.

McKay has also been an academic administrator, leading the 1800 student Honors Program in the UM College of Literature Science and the Arts from 2008-2016. In this role he created the Honors Core Curriculum: a set of 12 large courses specially designed to provide a collective experience to first year Honors students. He also established the Honors Summer Fellows program, which provides research support to 25-30 senior thesis writers drawn from across all three divisions of our college each summer, successfully developing an endowment to ensure its permanent support.

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March 27, 2017

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