Open higher-ed data could be big for policymakers

Open data can help with a variety of education concerns, Saraktsannis said, including more accurately lining up student skills and the needs of future employers, improving administration of educational systems, and improving the decisions students and faculty make about a student’s career.

Access to more open data can also help inform the decisions made by legislators about education, said Cecilia Retelle, founder of Ranku, a search engine for online degree programs.

But that data has be accurate and applicable to the issue at hand, she warned. When writing legislation regarding online learning, for example, using data about traditional on-campus students, which most education open data is about, would be utilizing information about the wrong type of student.

“Whatever decision you make, whatever policy you push,” Retelle said, “make sure your data is good.”

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