Dr.-Ing. Oliver Ferschke


About me

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Language Technologies Institute <School of Computer Science < Carnegie Mellon University. I study collaboration at scale and seek to understand how collaboration works in online communities through the lens of language and computational linguistics. This includes both indirect ways of observing collaboration through language artifacts produced as a byproduct of collaboration as well as direct ways of viewing collaborative processes through language interactions. Language serves as the medium through which much collaborative work is accomplished. Language technologies are a powerful tool for modeling the structure in language and offer the possibility of monitoring and supporting collaborative processes and thereby influencing the production of artifacts.

As such, my research is deeply interdisciplinary and situated at the intersection of computer science, human computer interaction and education. My aim is to combine the strengths and complementary viewpoints of these fields with an eye towards positive human impact both in terms of production of high quality artifacts that have value as well as shaping social processes that impact important outcomes such as learning.

I currently work on approaches to improve online learning and teaching in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with the help of language technology. I co-direct a working group to enhance MOOCs with instructionally beneficial discussion opportunities. I am further involved in LearnSphere, a joint effort of CMU, Stanford, MIT and the University of Memphis, where I work on DiscourseDB, a universal and comprehensive discourse representation that will alleviate discourse analyses in the learning sciences, social sciences and beyond. In a third project, I focus on conversational strategies and role compositions in online discussions in collaborative environments with a view towards consensus building and positive outcomes of the collaborative efforts. 

In July 2014, I graduated from the Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab < Department of Computer Science < Technische Universität Darmstadt with a PhD (Dr.-Ing.) in computer science. My PhD thesis focused on NLP-supported approaches to information quality management in open online collaboration platforms such as Wikipedia. Before that, I received a Master's degree in English linguistics (Magister Artium) and a teaching degree in computer science and English (Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien) from the University of Würzburg.