Education Datapalooza 2014

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January 21st, 2014

Last week eScholar had the privilege of attending the 2014 Education Datapalooza, hosted by the White House and the US Education Department (USED). Unfortunately I came down with the flu at the last minute, but eScholar Product Marketing Manager Elissa Seto was able to attend. Below is her reflection on the event.

Personalizing the Route to Every Destination

Twenty years ago, would you have left your house for a road trip without a map? Today, would you leave your house for a road trip without your GPS or smart phone?

One of the most striking moments for me during Education Datapalooza (now shortened to EdPalooza for # purposes) was when Dan Tangherlini, opened up his paper map and compared it to the Google Map that he had on the screen.

IMAG1339

As most people have used Google Maps, you know that you can find your exact coordinates, locate the nearest restaurant, and get directions to that restaurant based on traffic, your preferred method of transportation and whether or not you want to pay tolls. Google didn’t simply just build a better map; it changed the quality and quantity of information available on a map. People rarely say it, but Google Maps is a highly personalized application. And this is all possible through data.

With this year’s theme of college access at Datapalooza, I saw many different applications throughout the course of the day that have the potential to change the way students navigate the college application process. Some may say that we already have a lot of online college application tools. Students can access the FAFSA online, find rankings online, and more. However, simply digitizing the current college application process doesn’t personalize the experience for students, and it certainly isn’t innovative.

In order to be innovative, we have to unleash the power of data and also put that power in the hands of students. One of the best trends that I noticed throughout Datapalooza was that all of these applications were developed with the student as the end user. By empowering students with more and higher quality data, national college rankings will become less relevant, because what makes a college the “best” will be personalized to the needs and goals of the individual student. This enables every student to achieve their best educational outcome.

Data has changed the way we get from point A to point B. In education, data will not just change how our students get from high school to college, but it will also get our students on the best path for their success.

To see more from the Education Datapalooza, check out our story on Storify.

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