This brief summarizes the main themes from the EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint, held July 24–26, 2012. Presenters and participants exchanged ideas and information via webinars, online conversations, Twitter, and blog posts
“The mythology of higher education has to change,” UniversityNow founder Gene Wade told me when we talked earlier this week. In other words, what is the purpose of higher education: Is college about a residential experience for those age 18–22? Is it about career readiness and professional training? Is it about a liberal arts education? Is it about advanced learning? Is it a series of steps (credits) one takes in order to get a diploma?
Wade believes his startup UniversityNow provides both a challenge to some of those myths and an alternative for students who might not otherwise be able to afford college. UniversityNow runs New Charter University, which opened earlier this year, and the for-profit announced today that it’s raised $17.3 million in Series B funding, bringing the total raised to $21.5 million. It has also received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to research its model.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have each contributed $30-million to the edX online-learning program, but a third university will provide technology instead. The University of California at Berkeley is bringing a new online platform to the project.
The nonprofit group edX is working to create courses specifically for online learning; seven of them will start this fall. The new platform, called CourseSharing, allows students to complete multiple-choice assignments online and receive automated grades and feedback as soon as they click “submit.”
Quote: President Crow attributes much of this success to the use of analytics. Recently, EDUCAUSE President Diana Oblinger talked with Crow about why the university moved toward using analytics, how ASU has implemented analytics, where there could be problems, and what he sees ahead.
Abstract: The authors describe the top-down / bottom-up action analytics approach to using data to inform decision-making at the University of Central Florida. The top-down approach utilizes information about programs, modalities, and college implementation of Web initiatives. The bottom-up approach continuously monitors outcomes attributable to distributed learning, including student ratings and student success. Combined, this top-down/bottom up approach becomes a powerful means for using large extant university datasets to provide significant insights that can be instrumental in strategic planning.
Abstract: Data can help a financial-aid office make strategic decisions. In a guest post today, Christine Saadi describes how she came to embrace data’s potential, even though she prefers working with people to working with numbers. Ms. Saadi, director of student financial planning at Alvernia University, will present on a panel on this topic at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators conference on Sunday.
Quote: The EDUCAUSE Analytics Sprint kicked off today, with the theme “What Does Analytics Mean for Higher Education?” A broad question, indeed, reflected in the wide-ranging comments and discussion, both in today’s webinar and in the many side and back channels of communication.
New students are more likely to drop out of online colleges if they take full courseloads than if they enroll part time, according to findings from a research project that is challenging conventional wisdom about student success.
But perhaps more important than that potentially game-changing nugget, researchers said, is how the project has chipped away at skepticism in higher education about the power of “big data.”
Given the hype of national media coverage of massive open online courses (MOOCs), it is refreshing to see more recent analysis looking at important attributes such as revenue models, dropout rates, and instructional design. Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed wrote a revealing and important article looking at early demographic data. Jeff Young at the Chronicle wrote an excellent article about Coursera’s contract with the University of Michigan, along with key insights into Coursera’s and the university’s motivations. Audrey Watters, in response to an article in the Atlantic, asks the tough question of whether we should care about the high dropout rates of current courses offered in this new model.
Call it a "massive open cookout." Coursera, a company that is working with more than a dozen elite universities to help them run MOOC's, or massive open online courses, held its first official "meetup" here on Saturday for students and professors to connect in person over burgers, chips, and soda.
It was a chance for even the company itself to learn more about what motivates students to take its courses, which bear no official academic credit.
Quote: In this podcast, Executive Director of Administrative Information Services at Princeton University, Colin Currie, talks analytics with George Siemens and John Campbell. Siemens is associate director for the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and John Campbell is associate vice president of academic technologies for Purdue University.
Quote: The focus of today’s Sprint activities moved from general issues for higher education into the area of teaching and learning, an area that seemed to strike participants as either the most or the least reasonable place to apply analytics. On the one hand, teaching is the core mission of every college and university, and if using data in new ways can benefit an institution’s teaching, who wouldn’t support that? On the other hand, the magic of learning depends on subtleties and dynamics that can’t be reduced to numbers, doesn’t it?
July 23, 2012–The humanity in analytics has long been what was missing. However, big data is taking a deeper look at its users and those... Article; Comments (0). July 23, 2012–The humanity in analytics has long been what was missing.
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