The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Columbia Basin to Mine Social Media Data

Colleges and universities have many ways to gather information on their students, from course selection to analyzing social media usage. Columbia Basin College (CBC), Pasco, WA, is working on a plan to put such information to use.

The college is proposing to track its students by classes and grades, archived records, and information generated by students on social networks, particularly Facebook since students use it to list preferences on a whole range of issues, according to a report in eCampus News. It’s hoped the information will give the school a clearer understanding about best teaching methods, subjects students are interested in, and the services they need.

CBC’s timing is practically flawless. The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research recently released a survey of 456 four-year colleges and universities in the 2010-11 academic year that showed Twitter use has expanded 84% since 2008-09 and 98% of responding schools reported using Facebook.

The problem for CBC is its computer system is outdated and the data it wants to use are scattered across servers, networks, and storage locations that aren’t connected. The college is meeting with a data-management firm about its plans but understands the project will likely take more than a year to complete.

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