Ed-tech group to push for more analytics use in colleges

Bret Myers, a business professor at Villanova University, said providing free SODA accounts to students will give them nearly unlimited access to analytics software that they need to be familiar with to land sought-after jobs after graduation.

Many colleges and universities use analytics software with limited licenses, meaning a limited number of students can use the technology at one time. And even when students get their turn with the software, their time is capped to make time for their peers to use the program.

A classroom analytics program used at a large state university helps professors and instructors identify which students are likely to fail their class by analyzing classroom participation—including contributions to the class’s online discussion board—as well as quiz grades and the number of times a student views course notes online, according to a report published by EDUCAUSE.

Using the various student data, a professor can see how a student is performing in class by viewing an indicator placed by the student’s name.

A green light shows the student is doing well in class, a yellow light indicates “possible risk” of slipping below a C, and a red light shows “elevated risk” that a student could fail the course after failing to participate in in-person and online class discussions and scoring poorly on quizzes.

Analytics programs can show a professor which students are participating in course discussions the most, and correlate that data to class grades. The professor, while providing targeted help for students in danger of failing the class, can use the analytics data to congratulate her top students, the EDUCAUSE report said.

Using analytics in the classroom and in campus departments is ideal in higher education’s data-rich environment, according to the report.

“Most colleges and universities collect and store vast amounts of data—in the LMS, admissions files, student and library records, and other systems,” the report said. “ Analytics applications can mine at least some of this data, subject it to statistical analysis, and prepare reports or data visualizations to reveal patterns, trends, and exceptions.”

Job market data has driven colleges and universities to focus on analytics curriculum.

Demand for professionals with management analysis skills will increase 24 percent by 2019, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There also will be a 22-percent increase in demand for operation research analysts and a 13-percent jump in demand for statisticians.

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