2U algorithm predicts online program success

Dive Brief:

  • An algorithm developed by 2U, a software-as-a-service company that helps colleges and universities take degree programs online, says its new program selection algorithm will predict the success of such a move.
  • Inside Higher Ed reports that, on top of data from 2U's existing programs, the algorithm uses data sets that include federal degree conferral and job growth rates, online trends, rankings, and geographic information.
  • Despite its relative success, the algorithm's predictions are reportedly shakier when it comes to degree fields not yet offered via 2U partnerships, as well as those that are still emerging, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Dive Insight:

2U CEO and co-founder Chip Paucek told Inside Higher Ed the formula is "the most critical component of the company’s success," and it has reportedly been backing business decisions since last year. The company has seen notable success helping institutions like Georgetown, the University of Southern California and the University of North Carolina take elite master's programs in subjects like nursing, education and business online, making them more accessible to working adults who may not be able to drop everything and move to a new city to further their education.

Still, some in academia remain skeptical of outsourcing too many things to third-party providers. As Stanford University Graduate School of Education Assistant Professor Candace Thille noted at SXSWedu 2016, institutions themselves can innovate from within by collecting massive amounts of data and making predictions about their students to influence pedagogical decision-making. Along that thinking, they could also theoretically create their own models to predict the success of future programs.


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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology Online Learning
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