Big need for Big Data powers LEAPForward tech project

Imagine there’s a freshman at Illinois State named Jane, and she’s struggling. Her grades are slipping, she’s skipping class, and she’s thinking about not coming back for her sophomore year, Stateside reports. Now imagine that her academic adviser gets automatically notified when Jane’s grades start to slide, or when she’s missed a bunch of classes. The adviser pulls up Jane’s up-to-date records and meets with her to get her back on track. Before long, Jane is registering for her next semester on her iPhone, with the help of custom course recommendations based on what other students like her have taken. And even when that all-important class in her major is full, she knows what number she is on the waiting list. This is just part of the very near future envisioned by the leaders of LEAPForward, a major campus initiative now in its second year. “We will be able to ask more sophisticated questions about how students are progressing toward their degrees, what classes might be in short supply in a year’s time, and which students might benefit from some extra tutoring,” said Jonathan Rosenthal, associate provost for undergraduate education.

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