Public Sector News: Education is evolving with analytics

May 2015, Issue 4

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

This week in public sector news there were quite a few stories of innovation and transformation using analytics and big data. However, perhaps inspired by commencement speeches, writers across the websphere seemed to all touch on education, prompting us to re-imagine it with big data and analytics. At the Mindset Network launch in 2003, Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Today that statement still holds true and even rings louder. Here are some of the stories from the week of May 11, 2015 on how analytics is changing education and our world.

Some schools embrace the demand for education data

The story goes that a small suburb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the Menomonee Falls School District is where “no one escapes the rigorous demands of data.” It highlights the possibilities of utilizing data and analytics to improve education. Though the debate about data in education still rages on, the district—from custodians to students to the district superintendent and data champion, Patricia Greco—adheres to the notion that “anything that can be counted or measured will be.”—Motoko Rich for The New York Times

Student outcomes: The only metric that matters in education technology

Many people may argue that there are only two sides to a coin—and they could very well win that argument. In the big data privacy versus education innovation with big data debate, however, there are three sides. “Activists on the far left see data privacy concerns as an argument against the corporatization of education. Opponents on the right are concerned that big data in education may enable government growth and intrusion into their child’s education. Often missing from this discourse is the most important goal of public education: student outcomes.”—Beverly E. Perdue and William Hansen for Forbes

What will your college degree do for you? Big data could answer the question, but only if we let it.

With increasing numbers of universities using analytics to stem attrition and improve learning, educators and college students alike are about to get equal opportunities to leverage big data. Josh Wyner, vice president and executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, said, “In an era of tight budgets and declining investment in higher education, policymakers controlling those budgets badly need more comprehensive data to better understand returns on investment.” Wyner goes on to say, “by unpacking this data, colleges and universities can get a sense for where they are providing the greatest value to students and where they are not.”—Eric Schulzke for Deseret News

MBA careers: Demand for data analytics talent outstrips supply

A Gartner survey revealed that 73 percent of organizations have invested or plan to invest in big data in the next two years. With this demand for data analytics comes a demand for the expertise to handle the data. Unfortunately, “strategy consulting firm Accenture estimates that the U.S. could see demand for analytics talent outstrip supply by more than 250,000 positions this year alone,” according to BusinessBecause. Arne Strauss, associate professor of operational research at Warwick Business School says, “There is increasing demand in the public sector, and from the healthcare and retail industries, for big data expertise. Every sector is showing interest now.”—Seb Murray for BusinessBecause

Cities are key to fostering big ideas in technology

Los Angeles and the National League of Cities hosted the “Big Ideas for LA” event, where mayors from across the U.S. shared how technology could elevate the efficiency of cities and improve citizen engagement. Los Angeles zeroed in on big data. “For us, it’s simple,” said Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Rick Cole. “The mayor has challenged us to create a data-driven culture of innovation. With four million people in Los Angeles, we simply need big data to govern effectively.”—Justine Brown for Government Technology

Learn how you can leverage analytics in education.