Kolowich, S. (2010) Technology and the completion agenda Inside Higher Education, November 9
This article highlights what I think will be one of the most significant technology trends in online and higher education over the next few years.(This article is very much focused on specific problems within the higher education system in the USA, but its implications are much wider).
New developments in business intelligence software enable decision-makers at all levels (including program directors and front-line instructors) to cross analyse data from different sources, such as course completion rates and mode of delivery (provided the data are collected and categorized appropriately in the first place – a huge proviso in most post-secondary educational institutions).
The software provides ‘dashboards’ that allow an end user to choose different variables and cross analyse them. The results can be displayed as raw data, aggregated data, graphs or pie charts. So an instructor could compare completion rates for different kinds of students for both face-to-face or online classes, to see which students benefit the most from online learning.
However, for this to work, some agreement needs to be made on what data needs to be collected, and how it should be analysed, as well as finding BI software that will work with the variety of educational data systems within even a single institution. The technology is not quite there yet, but has great promise, provided institutions are willing and able to collect and categorise data appropriately in the first place, and companies are able to modify general products to the education market.