Is this the Netflix for student college searches?

New partnership will research how Netflix-like Discovery Engine can improve college search, recommendation and fit

Copyright: Twin Design /

Two organizations have joined forces to answer important questions related to how search, discovery and recommendation online are affecting student college choices. Specifically, both organizations will research the effects of Netflix-like recommendations made possible by new online search technology.

PossibilityU, a college guidance platform, and GroupLens, a research lab dedicated to recommender systems and online communities in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities announced a research partnership to explore how college recommendations online can effect a broad range of student outcomes.

For the past 3 years, PossibilityU’s unique college guidance program has been matching high school students across the country with colleges that match their talents, aspirations and family budgets. The program features guided inquiry, data visualizations and personalized, Netflix-like recommendations—all designed to give students confidence in their choices.

(Next page: Features of the Engine; how colleges can participate)

PossibilityU also features a 10-hour blended-learning video curriculum created to help students and parents become better consumers of higher education. There are also project management dashboards to help students and their mentors make great choices about choosing and financing college.

“College recommendations are different from any other project we’ve taken on at GroupLens. This is the kind of project we love—one where research potential is large, multifaceted and one where the outcomes work toward a social good” said Dr. Konstan, co-director of the GroupLens lab.

The GroupLens lab was one of the first to study automated recommender systems with the construction of the “GroupLens” recommender, a Usenet article recommendation engine, and MovieLens, a popular movie recommendation site used to study recommendation engines, tagging systems, and user interfaces.

The lab has also gained notability for its members’ work studying open content communities such as Wikipedia and Cyclopath, a computational “geowiki” currently being used in the Twin Cities to help plan the regional cycling system.

“By closely studying how user experience, recommendations, and collaboration between students and their mentors work together online we’ll be in better position to help scale the work that great college counselors do,” said Betsy Peters, CEO of PossibilityU

PossibilityU is actively seeking schools and other student serving organizations interested in participating in this research beginning in Fall 2014. For more information contact or call 855-480-9126.

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Oops! We could not locate your form.