Founded in 2010 by Manoj Kutty, LoudCloud Systems was created with the goal of constructing an education management platform that focused on using behavioral analytics to improve student and teacher outcomes while not forcing data conformity on institutions that adopt the system.
Comprised of tools like LoudSight, LoudCloud’s student and faculty reports dashboard, and LoudBook, an interactive e-reader that can be used to measure student participation and understanding of subject matter, LoudCloud aims to provide meaningful, actionable data that, because of its close work with faculty and administration, is tailor-made for its environment.
Grand Canyon University was one of the earliest adopters of the LoudCloud platform when it was introduced in 2010.
“We were looking for a new LMS,” recalled Joe Mildenhall, GCU’s CIO. “We’d been on Blackboard and had switched to Angel Learning, and we weren’t happy with the information coming out of the system. We were [also] looking because of some of the failures that we had in our current platforms, [such as] the ability to scale, and run a student body of over 20,000 really active online learners.”
GCU has a learning model where students heavily participate on an online platform, so having a platform that could [scale] reliably was a challenge for the University, said Mildenhall.
“The other piece we were looking for was consistent analytics coming out of the system. The prior systems viewed each course as a separate entity, and they [didn’t] allow you to tie things across courses very easily…student progress, how often they’re participating, what they’re doing-that was one of the things we were looking for: A system where we could monitor more of what was going on in the platform and then make use of it both to help students be successful as well as monitoring the quality of the educational experience we were delivering.”
When asked what was wrong with the data that previous systems had produced, Mildenhall replied, “It wasn’t well-formed data. You couldn’t say ‘OK, what’s the mid-course progress grade across all the courses currently being taught’ and there just weren’t things being measured. [LoudCloud] started with a great foundation [in that] they measured just about everything.”
Of course, it is not simply good enough to measure every conceivable data point; a data stream is useless if it cannot be presented in a manner that is meaningful to those that need it, especially if those in need are faculty members who cannot afford to waste their already limited time, or the time of their students, having to find ways to interpret the data they are getting.
As Kutty explains, “We really began by thinking ‘what would an instructor want?’ Faculty have limited time so working on a platform that’s intuitive and above all else, immediately useful, is critical. We tried to answer these three questions with LoudSight™ : 1) How can it improve classroom materials? 2) How does it ensure spending time most effectively; meaning, how does it help the students most at-risk? And 3) How can the data help with an educator’s own professional development?”
(Next page: How an educator-focused analytics engine works)