Free tool allows institutions to easily analyze, compare IPEDS data
- Data USA, a free-and-open data-visualization platform that launched in April 2016, added profiles on more than 7,300 higher education institutions, with information including tuition costs, demographics, acceptance rates, financial aid and endowments sizes, among other statistics gleaned from U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
- The platform, a collaboration between Deloitte, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Datawheel, lets users observe publicly available data in an integrated, visualized format, according to César Hidalgo, director of MIT's Collective Learning group, who told Education Dive the resource allows users to do things like "see the data and visualize it and merge points right away." Hidalgo said users can compare yields, how many of the students are accepted at a university decided to go there, and much more.
- In terms of how institutions can use the platform, Hidalgo said, "comparisons are very easy to make now, and allows leaders to understand better how they compare to the universities they are competing against." One of the features of the platform includes automated comparison data from peer institutions.
The embrace of data is becoming more commonplace throughout the industry. Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University, mentioned during a panel session at the 2018 American Council on Education Conference, that it's difficult for presidents to effectively evaluate institutions' stance within the industry and their internal operating procedures without collecting information. He added that leaders ought integrate data into their institutions' culture of growth.
Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governor's University, who was also at that session, added that before leaders can effectively leverage data, they need to know what they are looking for or trying to compare. "If you can know, you better know," he said, but "you need to identify the data you can use to prove that first."
Hidalgo said that this type of reasoning is the basis behind why Data USA's collaborators decided to add information on university and college profiles from IPEDS in a way that is more consumable and easy to use, noting that the platform offers a way for stakeholders to really pinpoint the areas in which they want to improve.
"We have received a lot of emails from university administrators over the last few days [...] because they were looking on the site and were interested in comparing themselves with other universities. This is something they do routinely [but] they would have to download the IPEDs data set and create their own way to visualize it and analyze it," he said, nothing how cumbersome this process can be.
Matt Gentile, principal at Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP who worked on the project, told Education Dive he hopes the platform's ease of use helps institutions connect to the workforce.
"The way this is set up, you can begin to understand how many majors are coming to certain institutions in a particular geography which employs certain kinds of people with certain skill sets in industries and occupations as well," said Gentile. "I think you can see a picture emerge that shows a connection between these economies and the broader job market where institutions are located."
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