Higher education is often seen as a time to explore new subjects and interests. But often students still feel that they could benefit from more information when making decisions about their programs of study. In response to this issue, former Kaplan executive Charles Thornburgh founded Civitas Learning Community, a digital education platform that uses predictive analysis to empower students, educators, and advisors to make more informed academic decisions. Schools already have lots of data they’ve collected about students’ demographics, behavior, and academic performance. But until recently, that information rarely left the institutions’ administrative offices. Civitas makes use of the data that schools already have by normalizing and analyzing it to identify trends. Then, Civitas uses this information to give students and educators live recommendations about classes, teaching methods, and degree paths over a customizable platform using a system of predictive analysis similar to the way Netflix recommends movies.
The potential benefits of such a platform are numerous. Using predictive analytics, Civitas hopes to shed insight on which resources work best for which students, what types of teaching methods and tools lead to engagement and completion, and what kinds of instructional innovations are helping students’ learning processes. The company believes that the technology will even be able to identify which students are at risk of dropping out and alert educators about which courses and degree paths are contributing most to the attrition rate. Students can consult the Civitas Learning platform to get live recommendations on decisions such as which class section they should sign up for, which courses they could benefit most from, or even which degrees they should consider pursuing.
In order to produce the most accurate predictions, Civitas will be collecting enormous amounts of data from a diverse variety of educational institutions and will be partnering with everything from four-year private schools to community colleges and proprietary schools. Civitas’ partner institutions will have the ability to create a custom interface and apps for their students, faculty, and administrators to use. The platform launched earlier this week with more than a dozen participating schools and a database that included over eight million school records, making it already the largest multi-institutional database platform of its kind.
Civitas could become a valuable tool for the progress of education technology. In recent years, we’ve seen the number of new teaching tools and innovations in education skyrocket, but we can’t hope to use these innovations to their full potential unless we can accurately measure their impact on learning. Perhaps technologies like the Civitas Learning Community can provide a solution to this. By using our data in more meaningful ways and identifying which technologies work best, we can continue to improve higher education.