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.