5 ways to use predictive analytics in an ethical manner

Institutions are increasingly turning to predictive analytics to help determine if students will enroll, and if so, whether or not they’ll need support to stay on track for graduation. But this data use begs the question–are decision-makers using the data ethically?

The pressure to recruit and retain students grows daily in higher education, where institutions strive to ensure students earn diplomas.

Predictive analytics–analyzing past student data to predict various things about current and prospective students–can help institutions meed enrollment and financial goals, according to a new policy paper from New America. Because without ethical practices, the use of student data could end up hurting students’ academic progress instead of helping it.

“For example, without a clear plan in place, an institution could use predictive analytics to justify using fewer resources to recruit low-income students because their chances of enrolling are less sure than for more affluent prospective students,” according to the report, authored by Manuela Ekowo and Iris Palmer.

(Next page: 5 guiding principles of predictive analytics)


6 million students? Must-know facts about online enrollment

Online enrollment at nonprofit institutions is on the rise, while for-profit institutions saw a decline of more than 9 percent, according to a new report examining trends and patterns of online enrollment in the U.S.

The findings are detailed in “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017.”

Thirty percent of all students in higher education are now taking at least one online course. Those online learners are split almost evenly between students who are exclusively online (14 percent) and those who take some courses in person (16 percent).

The numbers reveal a year-to-year online enrollment increase of 226,375 distance education students–a 3.9 percent increase, up over rates recorded the previous two years. More than 6 million students are now online learners, according to the report.

“The study’s findings highlight yet another year of consecutive growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “This study and earlier reports from the Babson Survey Research Group have shown that distance education growth has a momentum that has continued, even as overall higher education enrollments have been declining.”

More than one in four students (29.7 percent) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 6,022,105 students).

Graduate students are twice as likely to take all of their courses online (26 percent) as undergraduate students (12 percent).

The number of students studying on a campus has dropped by almost 1 million (931,317) between 2012 and 2015. The majority of “exclusively distance” students live in the same state as their institution (55 percent), while 42 percent are studying online at an out-of-state institution.

Public institutions educate the largest proportion of online students (67.8 percent), though more online learners in private institutions attend nonprofit schools than for-profits, according to the data.

The picture of change in online enrollments includes relatively few institutions having large gains or large losses, with most institutions showing modest changes in either direction.

Among those institutions showing large gains, Southern New Hampshire University (a private nonprofit) topped the list with an increase of just under 400 percent between 2012 and 2015, growing by 45,085 students. Four other institutions increased their online enrollment by more than 10,000 students during this period–Western Governors University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, University of Central Florida, and Grand Canyon University. The largest online enrollment drops were recorded by the University of Phoenix and Ashford University, two for-profit institutions.

The report is the first in a series of publications from Digital Learning Compass, a new research partnership of the Babson Survey Research Group, e-Literate, and WCET. Digital Learning Compass partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, and Tyton Partners to produce the report.


EDUCAUSE to offer new membership for emerging edtech companies

EDUCAUSE, higher education’s largest technology association, announced the new Emerging Edtech Membership offering.

EDUCAUSE and its members are dedicated to advancing higher education through technology and embracing new innovations supports the association’s core mission. Membership is available to companies eager to break into the higher education IT domain.

Through this new membership option, EDUCAUSE is expanding support available to new companies along the continuum of their needs—including enhanced opportunities to engage and network with key higher education IT decision makers.

“The EDUCAUSE community understands that innovative edtech offers promising traction when it comes to some of our toughest challenges,” says John O’Brien, EDUCAUSE president and CEO. “We’re committed to encouraging the emerging edtech community to foster and elevate innovation across the higher ed community.”

Membership benefits include:

  • Face-to-face exposure with CIOs and other key decision-makers at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference and other association events
  • Targeted opportunities for exposure at our Annual Conference including experiences like Start-Up Alley, Edtech Playground and our Under The Ed Radar Business Pitch competition
  • Access to IT research, market share reports and publications to inform product and sales decisions
  • Access to networks and topic-based communities focused on addressing needs and issues
  • Opportunities to share knowledge and learnings with EDUCAUSE members through case studies and webinars
  • Special pricing on sponsorships, exhibiting options, advertising, and events

“Navigating the higher education IT landscape can sometimes be overwhelming for new players in this space,” says Margita Blattner, EDUCAUSE Senior Director of Business Development. “This new membership tier allows companies who are working to get a foothold in the education technology space to gain access to resources and a community of IT decision makers they need to be successful.”

EDUCAUSE offers unique opportunities to emerging companies at the Annual Conference.“The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference was a great experience,” said Sean Higgins, founder of ilos and the 2016 Under the Ed Radar competition winner. “We met with hundreds of potential customers over a two-day period, secured two deals on site, and even took first place in the Under the Ed Radar Pitch competition.”

EDUCAUSE will host several Start Up opportunities again at the 2017 Annual Conference.

“There are many hurdles new edtech companies face, particularly in a space as dynamic as education,” says Blattner. “We want to provide these companies with the opportunities, resources and information they need to thrive.”

Become an Emerging Edtech Member by calling Membership at 303-449-4430 or learn more by visiting: https://www.educause.edu/about/corporate-participation/membership.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Is your campus using this hidden recruiting gem?

Social media should be a key component of higher education institutions’ minority recruitment strategies, according to a new report.

A survey of 5,580 college-bound students reveals that underrepresented student groups are more likely than their counterparts to rely on social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to learn about colleges.

These student groups are also more likely to interact with colleges and universities on social media throughout their college search, according to the survey by Royall & Company, a division of EAB.

The survey found that underrepresented students were more likely to initially learn about a school on social media than their counterparts.

“Social media continues to play an important role in college-bound students’ lives, and the college search process is no exception, especially with first-generation, low-income, and minority students,” said Pamela Kiecker Royall, Ph.D., head of research at Royall & Company.

(Next page: How does social media serve underrepresented students?)


These 2 student-focused technologies can bring higher ed into the future

From clusters of college closures and dramatic budgetary cuts to technological advances and data security breaches, changes in higher education have institutions contemplating strategies that will enable them to thrive in the future. But how do colleges and universities determine which strategies to focus on first, or most?

When navigating the industry’s tectonic shifts, institutions can find a North Star in their students. Increased diversity in student bodies—whether that means ethnicity, gender, beliefs, age, economic status or culture—the way they learn and the way they want to learn are the best indicators of the way forward.

Reports by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show constant increase in racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in higher education. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of international students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education more than doubled from the 1990-1991 school year to the 2014-2015 school year. Additionally, colleges and universities must continuously increase access for students with disabilities.

The most successful institutions will be the ones that are in tune with their students’ diverse, evolving needs, and digitally transform operations to easily pivot in response to change in policy or demand.

North Star Tip 1: Go Beyond Traditional Learning Environments for Today’s Students

Every year, more students enroll in colleges and universities expecting student services will be as easy as using Amazon or iTunes. At most institutions, however, students are required to fill out rounds of paperwork, visit various departments or schools, and wait for the many back-office processes to be completed to do something as simple as adding or dropping classes.

(Next page: More future-looking tips for institutions focused on students)


As expected, Trump’s education budget slashes student aid

President Donald Trump on May 23 released details of his proposed FY 2018 education budget, which adamantly supports school choice and slashes funding for other major education programs and initiatives.

Under the education budget proposal, the Department of Education would see a 13 percent decrease in funding, down $9 billion to $59 billion in discretionary funding.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called the budget a “historic investment in America’s students,” noting that Trump is focused on giving more power back to states.

An official budget fact sheet identifies five major themes around the education budget:
• Expanding school choice, ensuring more children have an equal opportunity to receive a great education
• Maintaining strong support for the nation’s most vulnerable students
• Simplifying funding for postsecondary education
• Continuing to build evidence around educational innovation
• Eliminating or reducing department programs consistent with the limited federal role in education

(Next page: What does the education budget cut, and what gets a funding boost?)


This technology will dominate higher ed within 5 years

Like many other industries, much of the change occurring in colleges and universities is driven by the rise of mobile devices, the consumerization of IT, and higher customer expectations. With so many educational choices both on-campus and online, institutions have had to set aside their aversion for change in order to meet the digital desires of a new generation of students and compete on a global scale. But what will higher ed’s strategic digital efforts look like in the future?

Then: Simply Keeping Pace

Along with the economic downturn of the late 2000s that caused students, parents, and even prospective employers to begin questioning the value of a college degree, which resulted trends in career and employability-focused education programs and CBE, as well as the replacement of legacy administrative systems with more modern systems, the move to a more digital campus has also been driven in a large part by the demands of a tech savvy-generation raised with smart device in hand and accustomed to anytime, anywhere access to information. Accreditation agencies today are not only looking at student competency and course offerings when rating performance — they’re also looking at student satisfaction surveys and student outcomes.

Students now expect the same amount of digital literacy on the websites, programs, and applications offered through their school as they do in their personal life–and they’re not afraid to say it. In fact, a 2016 survey by Unit4 and DJS Research found that 7 in 10 students would recommend that their university changes their digital strategy. [Read more stunning results from this survey: “Students say campus technology needs major overhaul—but why?”]

Now: Tailored for the Evolving Student

The desire for a more digital campus has also come hand-in-hand with the rise of the non-traditional student, a population of which is generally characterized by part-time attendance, student swirl, working either full or part time, and taking classes either partly or entirely online. [Read: “Is it time to rethink the term nontraditional student?”] Online learning platforms change the lecture and classroom experience to allow students to connect with the university through a familiar medium–their mobile device.

Digital transformation isn’t just about the changes to the curriculum, however. Many forward-thinking colleges are embracing digital strategies to modernize their administrative side as well, such as processes for financial aid, course sign up, campus enrollment, the bursar’s office and others previously operated independently. Digital integration between departments can streamline tasks and make them accessible online to adapt to the needs of remote students, meaning campuses can put the student first and can streamline operations to follow the student journey.

Today, hundreds of colleges worldwide allow students to register for courses through mobile apps that guide them, helping to streamline and previously lengthy and time consuming process. In addition, many colleges offer dashboards where students can explore outstanding requirements to complete their majors, access grades and transcripts, and manage course loads.

However, mobility isn’t just for students — admin users of ERPs and student information systems (SISs) want mobility too. They desire a consumer-grade experience, just like students and admin users across the campus need mobile-friendly access to perform work on-the-go.

(Next page: The digital learning experience in 5 years)


3 campus security musts for summer kick off

I don’t really need to belabor the point that securing educational institutions is both incredibly challenging and crucially important; it’s a bit like describing the importance of water to a fish. Colleges and universities are here for the primary purpose of education, but they often have groups devoted to healthcare, finance, retail, and research, among the other usual administrative departments like human resources and accounting.

And with that breadth of service comes an alphabet soup of security compliance regulations that you need to be aware of; like HIPAA, CIPA, COPPA, FERPA and PPRA. And within higher education, there is also the expectation of an openness of information within and throughout the organization. How on earth can colleges and universities be expected both to fiercely guard and freely share information?

Information and Assets in Context

If we think of security and privacy in the context of our daily lives, there are things each of us consider private (including both property and information) and would take steps to make sure they’re shared with a limited number of people, such as close family members.

And then there are other things that we would give away freely to anyone who asked. Most of us don’t have to give this process a lot of thought, and the categorization happens automatically because our personal context is relatively stable.

When you have the interests of more than just a small group of people to consider, you will be bringing a myriad of different contexts into the equation. But there is a significant advantage in having a wealth of different people contributing their privacy contexts and their visibility into your environment, as it can help you root out the most persnickety corner cases.

3 Campus Security Musts for Summer Kick Off

1. Know what you have

As the recent WannaCryptor ransomware outbreak illustrated, the security chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It’s important to identify all of your assets, in terms of both data and physical machines.

It’s important to be thorough; attackers will not necessarily enter networks through obvious places, and it is equally important to include that one machine moldering in a back room that is running prehistoric versions of software, and that is nonetheless connected to the internet. Because campus networks have such an itinerant population, this must be an ongoing task rather than a yearly chore.

Once you have established regular reporting of your assets, you can start identifying the risks associated with those assets. Performing ongoing risk assessment gives you a number of other benefits. Having a constantly evolving record of your assets improves reporting and tracking of security incidents and it can help you recognize suspicious actions more quickly.

In an industry where budget cuts can seem to be as certain as death and taxes, good records can also help justify the necessity of budget items, and help assure more appropriate levels of coverage with whatever money is allotted.

(Next page: Summer campus security tips 2-3)


University partners with local firm to launch university-based startups

Venable LLP has created a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley startup accelerator program known as SkyDeck.  Through the partnership, several attorneys from the firm’s San Francisco office mentor startup companies that are a part of SkyDeck and prepare them to go to market and grow their business.

Many of those companies have become direct clients of Venable.  Services provided by Venable attorneys to SkyDeck companies include formation and funding, intellectual property prosecution and management, and managing labor and employment issues.

The purpose is to provide high-quality legal work up front to lay a solid foundation for future success.  Venable’s knowledge of regulated industries (e.g., heath IT, self-driving cars, privacy/cybersecurity and FinTech) has been a particular draw for the companies, as almost all are working in industries where regulatory experience can help companies stay focused and seek to drive revenue.

Among the startups directly benefiting from Venable’s support is DeepVu, which has been a part of Skydeck’s program since December 2016. DeepVu is a Berkeley-based company providing artificial intelligence solutions for optimizing supply chains and maximizing margins for manufacturers. Manufacturers use the company’s deep reinforcement learning solution for supplier pricing, demand forecasting, and production planning. DeepVu is in customer engagements with global manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG), automotive, and electronics industries.

“Venable has a long history of advising entrepreneurs and startups, and we enjoy contributing to the startup community in our region.  Some of our great client success stories began as start-ups where we were able to contribute our legal expertise to founders driven to solve problems in their creation of successful and growing enterprises,” said James E. Nelson, Partner-in-Charge of Venable’s San Francisco office.  “And ever more so, our vast regulatory knowledge emanating from DC and other offices across the firm contributes to deep industry knowledge that we can harness to help companies grow smartly and anticipate issues as they drive to succeed.”

Venable concluded its third cohort partnership with the accelerator program on May 18, Demo Day, which was the final step for participating startups to present their companies and products to investors and SkyDeck partners.  The firm plans to continue its partnership with SkyDeck, mentoring and advising participants, and will begin working with a new cohort in June.

“Venable’s relationship with SkyDeck allows us to create a powerful and resourceful environment for startups,” said Caroline Winnett, executive director of SkyDeck.  “It’s our partners and a large network of investors who connect these companies to the expertise and capital they need, not just to grow, but to thrive in a competitive marketplace.”

Located on the top floor of the tallest building in Downtown Berkeley, SkyDeck is UC Berkeley’s premier startup accelerator.

Formed as a partnership between the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, SkyDeck combines the consulting know-how of traditional accelerators with the vast resources of a leading research university.

SkyDeck’s mission is to commercialize discoveries born from UC Berkeley research by accelerating startup ventures to help them go to market. Companies accepted into SkyDeck must have at least one team member with a direct connection to UC Berkeley as a student, alumnus, or faculty member. For more information about SkyDeck, visit skydeck.berkeley.edu.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


Colleges: Here’s how to go digital without blowing your budget

The key to achieving a successful digital transition without exceeding a budget might lie in print management, according to a survey from the Center for Digital Education.

A digital transformation rests on three foundational pillars–security, sustainability and streamlined operations. Print management can help higher-ed institutions overcome the financial challenges in these three pillars, according to the report.

The Center for Digital Education recently surveyed 162 higher education decision-makers about various areas of their print environment to gauge where they are on the path to transformation and how they are overcoming budget and spending barriers.


As institutions move to digital, security concerns become more important than ever.

(Next page: Security, sustainability and streamlined operations)