Jeff Merriman, CTO and Co-Founder, DXtera

How can data better support learners and institutions to be able to meet learners' and employers' needs?

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 programs, 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
  • Competencies
  • Skills

In a way that can allow us to map students competency more discretely, but that also build up to a larger set of skill sets, that eventually map to 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

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 compares 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.

Learning outcomes and competencies.

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 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.

Jeff Merriman, CTO and Co-Founder, DXtera

About DXtera: A membership based organisation, our members are typically universities higher education and further education colleges. We're headquartered in the US, and we are beginning to see membership in Europe as well. What we do is we help our members to make better use of their data to answer questions about student success. We're also helping our members to think about next generation infrastructure to support new kinds of student success applications and software.

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