Possible Data Changes to Higher Education Act Under New Congress


Joel Salmon
Joel Salmon

Independent consultant Joel Salmon has led complex projects for clients in multiple sectors, including higher education. As an analyst for Renaissance Management, Inc., Joel Salmon leveraged his experience with data management to provide counsel to elite universities. Maintaining a professional interest in the role of data in higher education, he stays informed of legislative changes that impact data collection protocols.

It has been nearly two decades since Congress has made any comprehensive changes to the Higher Education Act, which regulates the federal student loan program, accreditation, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPED). Since 1993, IPED has collected data points on college and university admissions and enrollment, tuition costs, student retention and graduation rates, and institution finances.

The 119th Congress elected in 2018 will be the first power-balanced congress in decades, which may facilitate the passing of a revision to the Higher Education Act. Many members of congress are keen to expand data collection efforts beyond the IPED in order to create a more cohesive picture of student outcomes.

For example, some members put forward several frameworks for a national system that would collect student academic and financial data for several years after graduation. Though stalled since the mid-2000s, upcoming changes in the leadership of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce may lead to progress on these proposals.


An Introduction to the Virtual Classroom


Joel Salmon
Joel Salmon

As part of his work with higher education, Joel Salmon consulted with Ivy League universities on marketing and curricular matters. To stay current in the field, Joel Salmon maintained a professional interest in educational trends and technology, including the virtual classroom concept.

Virtual classrooms allow students in an online environment to interact and collaborate with each other and view common videos or presentations. Several features distinguish this technology:

Ease of access. Participants can log into a MOOC (massive open online course) from anywhere in the world, using services such as Coursera. Registration costs are generally lower than for face-to-face classes.

Any-time usage. After presentation, students can play back the entire class, including audio-visual elements, to watch at a more convenient time, or go back to clarify information they missed.

– Built on traditional formats. Virtual classes are essentially lectures plus supporting material, a method with which students are familiar.

Useful extras. In addition to lectures, teachers can make time for discussions, tutorials, and group work. Network connectivity allows participants to consult outside resources.

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
Image: investopedia.com

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.