“Open Data for College Affordability and Better Student Outcomes”

Reblogged from Homeroom, the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education:

Open Data for College Affordability and Better Student Outcomes

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

The Obama Administration recently launched the Education Data Initiative to help students and their families benefit from innovation enabled by open data from the US government and other sources.  By working to make education data more available and useful to entrepreneurs and innovators, we’re confident that new products and services will continue to emerge to help American families make informed educational decisions and improve student outcomes.

The Education Data Initiative is part of a series of Open Data Initiatives—other ones include energy, health, and public safety—in which the Administration is working to help catalyze the development of innovative apps and services fueled by open data, while rigorously protecting privacy and confidentiality.

Todd Park speaks at the data jam

US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park speaks at the Education Data Jam

This week, staff from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the George Washington School of Business held an Education “Data Jam” in Washington, DC.  A diverse set of educational technology experts and entrepreneurs gathered to brainstorm new applications, products, services, and product features that could be developed using open educational data to drive increases in student success.

The MyData Initiative, which encourages schools, software vendors, and others who hold student data to make it available to parents and students in electronic, machine-readable formats, was an important focus of the workshop discussion.  Allowing students to download their own data enables them to maintain their personal learning profile, access customized learning experiences, and make informed school selection and financial aid choices.  At the workshop, the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid unveiled the MyData files it will be launching for student aid application (FAFSA) and disbursement (NSLDS) data downloads. Students will soon be able to retrieve their own student aid data in machine-readable format, which they could then share with online services that can harness the data to provide customized assistance with finding scholarships, choosing schools, or repaying loans.

The Education Data Jam also focused on Federal education data sets now available at education.data.gov.  Publicly available data about education outcomes can help fuel the next generation of customized services and tools for students, teachers, and school districts.

Data from the Learning Registry, a new open-source technical system to help educators and learners use and share digital content, was also a major subject of the brainstorm.  Developers interested in connecting student performance or teacher preparation tools to appropriate content can leverage the information stored in this crowd-sourced platform.

In wrapping up the event, we challenged participants to collaborate on building tools or services using the data demonstrated at the Data Jam.  Groups who successfully implement their ideas in the next 90 days will have an opportunity to potentially be featured at a follow-on event—an “Education Datapalooza”—that will celebrate private-sector education innovation fueled by open data.  The challenge to build innovative education tools and services, for potential demonstration at the Datapalooza, is open to everyone.  Information about the data sets presented at the Data Jam is available here.  And if you’d like more details about the Education Dataplaooza or if you have an idea or an example of a private-sector innovation (a product, service, website, app, or feature) that uses open education data, please send an email to Richard.Culatta@ed.gov.

August Will Be “Connected Educator Month”

This item came across my desk in late June. U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan is declaring the entire month of August as “Connected Educator Month.” The idea is to get educators talking and learning about using technology and the Internet and sharing creative ways to connect their learners to the classroom via technology.

The site below discusses more about the intent of Connected Educator Month. Take a few minutes to read the announcement and how to become involved, whether through online forums or professional development or personal development.

via Secretary of Education Duncan Declares August “Connected Educator” Month — THE Journal.

URL: http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/06/26/education-secretary-announces-connected-educator-month.aspx

#educ_dr

R&D Connections 18 — Dropping Out of High School

From ETS, or Educational Testing Service–the folks that bring us test products like the SAT, the GREs, LSAT, MCAT, and others–is a report on high school dropouts, it’s prevalence, risk factors, and remediation strategies. If ETS knows how to keep students in school longer, it would certainly help schools who are struggling with retention rates. Who better than ETS to write a report on dropping out? They have decades of information in their databases that they use to design their tests. It is not surprising that they are able to mine their data for information that can help schools.

This report came on the tail of an interview transcript with Bill Gates from the Chronicle of Higher Education for his views on dropping out of college. The article points out that

 he argues for radical reform of college teaching, advocating a move toward a “flipped” classroom, where students watch videos from superstar professors as homework and use class time for group projects and other interactive activities. As he put it, “having a lot of kids sit in the lecture class will be viewed at some point as an antiquated thing.”

To this interveiwer question,

Q. The Gates Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to traditional universities and to some new upstart players in higher education. But with that amount it would be possible to build a new campus of your own—have you considered starting your own university?

Bill Gates responds, in part,

Even these top universities often only have a 60-percent completion rate. And the average university will have something like a 30-percent completion rate. So you have an immense amount of wasted resource, and students who end up with a big loan and sort of a negative experience in terms of their own self-confidence. And so that failing student is a disaster for everyone.

The Bill Gates interview can be found here. The URL is http://chronicle.com/article/A-Conversation-With-Bill-Gates/132591/. The site has the full interview in video, too, for those who would prefer to listen to Bill Gates instead of read the transcript.

You should be able to access the ETC research and development report on high school retention and dropout below. If not, let me know and I’ll post the .pdf file. You can contact me here. Remember to let me know that you are asking for the report.

R&D Connections 18 — Dropping Out of High School.

The URL is http://www.ets.org/research/policy_research_reports/rdc-18

#educ_dr