How Universities Can Use Data to Improve Student Learning Outcomes


Joel Salmon
Joel Salmon

Independent data analyst Joel Salmon is an experienced sales and project management professional. Currently, Joel Salmon leverages data to help higher education institutions improve their teaching services.

Many higher education institutions are using big data to provide quality learning experiences while reducing the cost of higher education. Universities and colleges already store a lot of data from student enrollment rates to course completion rates. This data can be retrieved and analyzed to streamline educational experiences, keep more students engaged, and improve learning outcomes.

Essentially, institutions use two types of data analytics. The first type is predictive analytics, which uses historical patterns to predict future occurrences. The second type is prescriptive analytics, which decides the best course of action to improve educational outcomes. Both modes are beneficial to institutions.

Predictive analytics can be used to boost student enrollment rates. School administrators can look at student demographics and related information, and then compare that data with academic records to improve candidate selection. They can also use this data to ensure scholarships go to students with higher chances of retention.

Prescriptive analytics comes into play during a student’s stay in college. School administrators can cross reference academic records with student class choices to suggest appropriate courses to lower dropout rates. They can also analyze class performances across student demographics and student attendance rates to match course instructors with appropriate classes or subjects, and to identify students who need help.


The Internet of Things and the Higher Education Classroom


 Internet of Things pic
Internet of Things

An accomplished technology and higher education consultant, Joel Salmon has held positions with companies such as The Wellness Wire and Education Dynamics in a career that has spanned more than a decade. Most recently, Joel Salmon served as an analyst with Renaissance Management, where he consulted with clients on the use of technology in higher education.

Popularly considered one of the next frontiers in technology and culture, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used for the technology that connects everyday objects into “smart networks.” With IoT analysts promising that the technology will eventually connect everything from home appliances to entire cities, it would stand to reason that IoT would also have enormous potential in higher education learning spaces.

Technologists predict a range of uses for IoT in higher education, including “smart” lab equipment in research facilities that can monitor time, temperature, and other factors and automatically execute commands and send alerts when predefined conditions are not met. Additionally, the increasing prevalence of mobile devices provides universities with the opportunity to track student activity in the classroom and outside of it in order to provide targeted study reminders and tailored lesson plans.

Among other specific IoT tools already seeing widespread use in classrooms, universities are deploying smart digital whiteboards that automatically capture the professor’s jotted notes and smart lecture-capture systems that allow students to review lecture materials outside of class. More than a simple recording of the professor’s lecture, these materials include access to whiteboard notes and virtual ink notes from smart projectors.

Top Technology Trends in Higher Education


Internet of Things pic
Internet of Things

A graduate of George Washington University, Joel Salmon has served as an analyst and product development executive for more than a decade. An enrollment and retention professional, Joel Salmon has gained extensive experience with the use of technology in the field of higher education.

Many of the world’s largest technology breakthroughs have taken place in computer science laboratories at colleges and universities, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the higher education sector has often been at the forefront of integrating new technology. Here are some of the top technology trends that experts expect to see in higher education in the near future.

Virtual Reality: The rise of VR technology has made the possibility of immersive learning a reality. Analysts suggest that VR could provide new ways to study history, medicine, ecology, and many other subjects.

Going Mobile: As smartphones become ubiquitous and apps continue to advance, more teachers are integrating mobile technology into their classroom practices. Mobile apps such as collaborative platforms like Slack and productivity suites like Google Drive are already well-established classroom tools, and analysts expect more of them in the future.

Internet of Things (IoT): The increasing number of “smart” devices offers attractive possibilities for a connected classroom. From smart projectors to lecture capture systems, the IoT promises an automated classroom that will make for more efficient teaching and learning.

Current Factors Affecting College Enrollment


National Association for College Admission Counselingpic
National Association for College Admission Counseling

Joel Salmon has performed extensive analyses for prestigious American universities. Concerned with trends in higher education, Joel Salmon focuses his attention on factors that influence enrollment in colleges and universities. Several trends for 2018 have emerged from research by the National Association for College Admission Counseling:

The number of applications in higher education has increased 7 percent over 2017, as schools have increased recruiting via the Internet and social media. Although the high school population is leveling off, each student is on average applying to more institutions.

As the applicant pool expands, the college yield rate is declining. Yield is the percentage of accepted students who actually enter school – that rate has declined from 36.2 percent in 2014 to 35.1percent in 2015. The importance of yield is that it affects spending on priorities such as financial aid.

Many schools boost yield with early admissions. The yield among applicants with binding early admissions is far higher than average, and the chance to secure a spot sooner rather than later motivates many students. Colleges and universities also increase yields by marketing to transfer and international students.

In the application process itself, essays have become a more important admission criterion than before, in addition to high school grades and test scores. Many institutions require applicants to write essays focusing on reasons for choosing their school in particular.

Many colleges are not significantly increasing their class sizes to keep pace with a larger applicant pool. This means that more students will have to accept being wait-listed as part of the application process.