Predictive Analytics

How real-time decisioning is shaping higher education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Joe DeCosmo and Sean Naismith

CREDIT Enova.pngThe need for institutions of higher education to deliver solid return-on-investment for their students has never been greater. With the cost of traditional higher education continuing to rise, universities are in competition with each other to essentially secure high-paying careers for students upon graduation. Meanwhile, for-profit universities are striving to meet gainful employment regulations and debt-to-earnings requirements that are meant to ensure students graduate with the skills and tools necessary for career success as well as the financial capability to repay student loan debt with sufficient career earnings.

Now, and in the future, higher education institutions need innovative ways to deliver on their students’ return on investment.

Now, and in the future, higher education institutions need innovative ways to deliver on their students’ return on investment. Advanced, real-time predictive analytics decisioning technology is emerging as a viable solution for schools to meet regulated or self-set, debt-to-earnings goals for potential students.

While there are many ways in which schools can hope to improve their student debt-to-earnings ratio — for instance, investing in career centers or student financial advisement — ­real-time, predictive analytics decisioning technology can deliver results that are truly measurable by predicting debt-to-earnings before a student has even set foot in the classroom. Indeed, ensuring that students can meet that necessary financial threshold after graduating begins with the admissions process. Through unbiased and data-driven decisions enabled by real-time technology, universities can make an informed decision about student acceptance based on predicted future financial viability.

Real-time decisioning technology harnesses a wide array of data to forecast potential trouble spots. Examples of this data include:

  • Interest rates of loans currently held
  • Program and eventual degree earned
  • Geography
  • Credit data
  • Macro-economic data

These are just a few of the variables. Powerful analytics engines can analyze any combination of factors upon application submission in real time to determine the likelihood of gainful employment at both the micro- and macro-levels, helping schools to maximize their education costs with student earning potentials. It’s a strategic advantage for the school to make its programs attractive to students and GE-compliant, and it’s a boon for the students that are accepted and can go on to achieve a financially solvent livelihood.

Schools looking to take advantage of real-time decisioning technology have a few options when it comes to implementing the solution. One option is to build the technology with a team of data scientists and technologists. The time (often years), talent resources, and money needed to build such an analytics engine constitutes a substantial investment and is one without a guarantee of success. The financing alone would be a tremendous investment, even for the most prestigious and successful schools.

Another option is to outsource the decisioning to an analytics decisioning company capable of accessing and analyzing thousands of third-party data sources while integrating with a school’s existing learning management systems. These analytics processors are designed to handle multiple inputs, and they can analyze annual loan payments, annual earnings, discretionary income rates and other figures needed to forecast accurate debt-to-earnings rates.

As with many decisions, the best answer often lies somewhere in the middle. In this case, the middle ground would be outsourcing the real-time decisioning technology capabilities while retaining a very small team to handle modeling.

In the current academic and regulatory environment, the need for real-time decisioning technology is greatest for U.S. for-profit colleges who must meet specific GE requirements. Should a school fail to meet them, they risk major ramifications, including the withdrawal of federal financial aid. As you can imagine, the loss of such funding would be a momentous loss for any school and could even lead to closure — as we’ve seen in recent news.

However, with tuition rates still on the rise and myriad school options for prospective students to choose from, I believe even traditional higher education institutions must craft programs that are attractive and provide a satisfactory ROI for potential students. Advanced, real-time analytics decisioning technology can provide schools with the insights they need to meet students’ expectations for earnings upon graduation.

Joe DeCosmo is Chief Analytics Officer and Sean Naismith is Head of Analytics Services at Enova Decisions.

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Trends | Digital Learning Day 2017


Digital devices, educational software, and mobile apps keep coming out! How does one keep up? There’s also a lot of success out there in classrooms nationwide. Amazing things are happening. Spotlighting the innovation, Digital Learning Day was started back in 2012 to spread the innovation and help all youth gain access to quality digital learning opportunities. A powerful venue for education leaders to highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders, and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes—the grassroots effort blossomed into a massive nationwide celebration to enhance the role of teachers in classrooms. Digital Learning Day promotes the effective use of modern day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools. Celebrate, participate and learn more.

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Getting the Picture

What makes video more effective in today’s learning environment?

GUEST COLUMN | by Scott Landman

CREDIT CCaches.pngTeachers, students, IT directors and administrators in K-12 school districts face many challenges related to the use of video:

1. The rapid growth in educational video often makes it difficult for K-12 school districts to provide a consistently high-quality, cost-effective learning environment.

2. Students are distracted from learning when network congestion causes videos to start slowly, not play at all, or stop mid-playback.

3. Teachers who are already hard-pressed to keep up with technology are forced to invent their own ways to share videos with students, or find themselves struggling and often giving up trying to learn to use complex content management solutions.

E-rate funding pays for video infrastructure, helping schools improve their video-based learning environment. Districts often jump at an obvious solution—buy more Internet access from the Internet service provider. But a bigger pipe is an expensive solution, when it is even available. Buying more Internet access is a long-term open commitment, with a monthly bill that never stops.

Having teachers feeling confident about using educational video is a prerequisite to making it an effective part of a district’s curriculum.

A local cache is an alternative that provides much more cost-effective bandwidth. It’s a capex investment, a one-time-only purchase, that multiplies the available Internet bandwidth by moving the videos needed in the curriculum into a local cache. Without hundreds or thousands of students using up Internet bandwidth to watch educational video, there’s less need for an expensive Internet access upgrade.

The other challenge is usability of educational video. Having teachers feeling confident about using educational video is a prerequisite to making it an effective part of a district’s curriculum. Very few teachers have the time or interest to master complex features of a content management system. As most teachers are familiar with web browsers putting the controls of an educational video solution into a web browser like Google Chrome is the most likely way to get more teachers to use educational video and achieve the educational outcome improvements video provides.

A local cache with an easy-to-use interface provides the following benefits:

  • Students: Local delivery of videos provides a consistently high-quality viewing experience so students stay engaged and focused on learning rather than waiting for videos to start or continue playing.
  • Teachers: Teachers create playlists of videos to use with existing workflow (learning management systems, web sites, documents, etc.) with a time-saving productivity tool which has a zero learning curve and works with existing browsers such as Google Chrome.
  • Budget Directors: Local delivery of content reduces wide area network congestion, protecting investment in existing Internet access and delaying or eliminating Internet access upgrades.
  • IT Directors: A fully-managed offering saves IT departments from having to install, monitor, troubleshoot, or upgrade a solution.

The local delivery of video combined with the favorable economics from E-rate will support high- quality and cost-effective learning environments in the 21st century classroom. Video solutions that are easy to deploy and easy to adopt will have the greatest positive impact on teachers, IT staff, and on student outcomes.

Scott Landman is CEO of Common Caches, a high-quality video solutions integrator for the education market. Read their white paper, “Consistent, High-Quality, and Cost Effective Video Delivery For Schools”. Write to:

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Trends | 2017 NMC Horizon Report

The New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) jointly released the NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition at the recent 2017 ELI Annual Meeting. In this 14th edition are findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project identifying and describing emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education. Six of each of the following: key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in educational technology — are all placed directly in the context of their likely impact on the core missions of universities and colleges. After watching the video summary above, click on this link to learn more.

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Cool Tool | Boxlight’s ProColor Interactive Flat Panel Displays

CREDIT Mimio Boxlight ProColor Interactive Flat Panel Display.pngDesigned to meet the current and future needs of students, educators, and school IT administrators, Boxlight recently unveiled the ProColor interactive HD and UHD/4K displays. They bring touch-enabled collaborative learning from the front of the class to the back: promoting a high degree of interactivity and revealing the sharpest of details to boost readability. These next-gen displays have set the bar for the interactive flat panel display category by including an Android OS that offers an instant digital whiteboard plus integrated browser, bringing a whole new level of ease of use to the classroom while engaging students in a more collaborative learning experience through a wealth of applications in Google Classroom. The displays include dynamic MimioStudio classroom software that connects the Boxlight products. The software allows educators to create interactive lessons and collaborative activities, and perform real-time formative assessment. It also opens up other activities, enabling educators to use the interactive content they already have. The MimioMobile app brings group learning and collaboration to almost any device. Available in a range of sizes – the ProColor display offer up to ten single-point touch users or five dual-touch and gestures users that work simultaneously with Touch 360° interactivity. These newest interactive flat panels also include built-in stereo speakers, and LED backlighting. Learn more.

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