Just because technology allows us to do something, should we? That’s a big question being asked in higher education when it comes to student performance tracking analytics and predictive analytics.
Virginia’s Newport News Public Library System (NNPLS) launched StatBase, an open-source usage statistics program that enables libraries to track and visualize data on circulation, patron registration, door counts, reference, acquisitions, instructor-led courses, and more. The application is available as a free download on SourceForge.
I’ve finally dumped Gmail forever. Though the process took quite some time—moving mailing-list subscriptions, changing profiles on websites that knew me by my Gmail address, extracting the messages I needed to keep, and similar chores—the relief of a little more freedom from Google’s privacy-invasive data mining has been well worth the trouble for me. I want as little as possible to do with a company that allegedly thinks trawling and keeping behavior-profile data from college students’ school-mandated, school-purchased email accounts without notice or consent is in some way ethical.
Gale today launched Analytics On Demand, a new geographic information system (GIS) that combines local demographic data with information from a library’s ILS to generate real-time reports on circulation trends and patron lifestyles. Powered by business analytics provider Alteryx, with regularly updated demographic and consumer lifestyle segmentation data from Experian Mosaic, the foundation of the new service is built on the same tools as Gale’s DemographicsNow: Business and People.
Boopsie, the developer of custom mobile apps for libraries, is planning to launch Boopsie Analytics in early 2014. Currently in alpha testing stage, the new web-based platform will help the company’s customers analyze data about a number of different patron behaviors, such as how many queries are sent to a database or catalog from the app each day or each week, what services are being accessed most often via the app, or how many titles are being downloaded from OverDrive or other vendor partners using the app, for example.
Access to good data on key metrics such as circulation and student visits always helps make a better case for the important role libraries play on campus. But using data proactively to address emerging trends and challenges is “what it really means to be a data-driven organization” said Sarah Tudesco, Assessment Librarian, Yale University, during yesterday’s “What Is a Data-Driven Academic Library?” webcast.
As technology has become central to American life, nearly every organization leverages data to improve its performance. Political campaigns analyze potential voters. Credit-reporting agencies devise algorithms to predict who can repay loans and credit cards. Businesses reach potential customers with highly targeted marketing and advertising messages. Yet when it comes to analyzing their own data, many libraries have not really been able to capitalize on it.
Among the many gadgets and gewgaws announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a debut that may be a boon to students getting more comfortable with digital textbooks. A new etextbook dashboard tool, which will be an included feature in all etextbooks distributed by Kno Inc., will allow students to keep study analytics information private, or to opt-in to share their study results with peers and classmates.
I’m a writer, and a geek. So if CourseSmart had wanted to track students’ use of its etextbooks to improve the texts themselves, I could totally sympathize. But it seems to me that CourseSmart wants to use those analytics to fix, not the book, but the reader, and that has the potential to disturb privacy advocates and put students off etextbooks altogether.
CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of digital course materials, has announced a pilot test of CourseSmart Analytics, a program that will evaluate how students use specific textbooks, measuring page views, total time spent reading, as well as notes and highlights made. In aggregate, the data will allow professors, course designers, and academic administrators to assess the effectiveness of digital titles. Faculty will also have access to the etextbook reading habits of specific students enrolled in their courses.