Richard Culatta, acting director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, recently spoke with Ed Tech about the reshaping of American education. Culatta emphasized the inseparability of education and technology, and revealed a key point about the future of education: it’s a future that will be driven by data.
In response to the question, “What are we lacking in terms of functional tools to really move education forward?”, Culatta gave this answer:
We are in desperate need of good learning positioning systems. The GPS in my car shows me where I am, where I’m going, and shows a path so I can get there in the best way, which is almost never straight. It also shows me how to get back on track if I get off. We need to have that in the higher ed space — a learning positioning system that provides a path that’s relevant to a student and his learning, shows where he’s going, what he’s completed along the way and where he still needs help when he gets off track. In order for that to happen, we really need to make sure that we have open, interoperable data, and students need to be the owners of their data. It’s their data, and they need to be empowered by it. They need to have access to their learning data and be able to … use it to make better decisions about their learning choices.
This call for data is something EMSI has heard for years, and is the major push behind our tools. Career Coach answers the challenge Culatta pinpoints — that “students don’t feel that it is their data, and they don’t feel empowered by it — they don’t feel empowered to use it.” With powerful occupation data and local program information in an easy online format, Career Coach gives students not just a vision for a career that suits them, but also the educational means of getting there.
But in order for data to help the students, it must first shape the world of planners. Higher ed institutions need solid data themselves so that they can better understand the economy and workforce needs of their regions and strategize what programs to offer their students. EMSI provides just that sort of data in Analyst, our web-based labor market information tool.
Data is what EMSI stands for — not as a goal, but as a means, a tool for understanding the connections between people, work, and the economy. Part of Culatta’s vision is “a whole ecosystem where, in the middle, there are a bunch of good, strong companies that are building the next generation of tools that we need.”
This is exactly what EMSI is all about.