In the fourth in our series of conference snapshots, Jeff Merriman, CTO and Co-Founder of DXtera Institute talks about how both universities and colleges can harness the power of operational data, by firstly extracting it from their current systems, then analysing it to answer key questions on learning outcomes, competencies and skills (DXtera, like Emsi, is an affiliate of the Strada Education Network, and is a non-profit, collaborative member-based consortium which specialises in helping higher education professionals drive more efficient access to information and insights for effective decision-making).
I think one of the big things we’re seeing is the lack of really good data, and really good connections with what really matters, which is understanding education. In the US certainly, and I’m sure this is true most everywhere, there’s a certain disconnect between how teachers teach, how the structure of teaching and learning is done in a typical university or college environment: We think about courses, we think about programmes, we think about longitudinal long learning methodologies that get you from point A to Point B.
New kinds of learning tools
A lot of what we’re trying to think about is what does next generation learning look like with new kinds of tools. Where you can be more discrete, where you can be thinking about and developing curriculum around: Learning outcomes; Job skills; Discrete bits of education; and Bits of competency that somebody can show, through a badge or some other kind of thing.
We’ve been working with our members on developing infrastructure to support, not just the management of courses, and students, and broad curriculum, but how can we actually manage, and weave into the design of courses, into the design of education:
- Learning outcomes
In a way that can allow us to map students competency more discretely, but also build up to a larger set of skill sets, that eventually map to job requirements and job skills.
Benefiting learners, employers and institutions with existing data
The work we’ve done to date with institutions is helping them to better analyse the data they have.
An issue we see in in higher education and further education today is that there are a lot of legacy systems, a lot of old technologies in place that have a lot of the data, that have a lot of information historically, and about our current students, of how they’re doing, or how they have done. It’s often very difficult to get that data out of those systems to analyse. We’ve been helping universities, initially in the States, but also one of our members, the Open University Catalonia, is doing a lot of analytics on their students as well. We’re helping those organisations to better extract information from their systems.
In the future
What we’re trying to do is promote products in the marketplace that really build data access and integration as part of their core requirements, to make it easier and easier to use the operational data of an institution. What courses students are taking, or courses students took over the last 50 years? How students today compare to the students from 10 years ago? What can we predict for students 10 years from now to make it easier for future systems to allow us to get at that information, and ask those kinds of questions?
It’s going to be disruptive, because of the current systems of the market. There’s a few now that are beginning to deal with competency based learning, but most of the products in the marketplace don’t really deal with those kinds of things very well. What we’re trying to do is encourage our members, and encourage the marketplace, to begin to provide tools to manage that kind of information, to link competencies and learning outcomes to the traditional constructs of education, courses, and programs, and assessments, in ways that we think will get to a better educational outcome for all the students.
You can see the previous videos featuring Emsi’s Managing Director, Andy Durman, Elena Magrini from Centre for Cities, and Kirstie Donnelly from City and Guilds over on FE News here, here and here. To find out more about how we can help your thinking around the skills of the future, contact us now.