Few decisions are as impactful on one’s life as choice of education and career. High school students from all over the United States face daunting challenges when it comes to choosing what to do next, workers displaced by industry shifts often have to re-skill and change career paths, veterans returning to civilian life need to adapt what they’ve learned in the military to private sector standards. These moments of transition are difficult and often overwhelming. How do we empower people at these different life stages with better information to support their decision making? In the era of ‘big data’ how do we make data relevant to the needs of real people making meaningful career and educational choices that will impact their future? This challenge is important both at the personal and at the national level. The ability to find the right educational options and resources is fundamental to individual careers and national economic prosperity and wellbeing.
An endless amount of data regarding education resources exists on the web – school curriculum, district standards, testing reports, school evaluations, college sites, scholarships, free online courses, etc…. Yet, it is often incredibly difficult to access and easily understand for students, families and even professional educators. Our goal is to harness this data to support key decision points for individuals as they pursue their life-long learning and growth goals.
- Design a web based or mobile application that provides users with a decision support tool for navigating educational and career options at various stages of their lives.
- Use the stages outlined below and the example persona to guide your selection of data resources that would be most relevant as support materials.
- The resulting application should visualize and represent data in ways that are simple and easy for non-data literate users to understand. For example using simple charts and graphs or even visual metaphors such as a tree to show branching options, or map to show starting and end points in a career path.
- Combine data resources. Look at both government agency data such as census or department of education, and publicly available data such as scholarship data bases, college guides, or career support sites.
- Help users understand how their own personal profile (age, geography, socio-economic status) maps against external data sets, i.e. government agency data (census, economic, workforce), and publicly available data (scholarships, tutoring, college search, career support).
- Think about other stakeholders around the student who might be helped by this information including parents, teachers, or counselors. You can also think about the types of conversations they will have around this data and the decisions they will need to make based on it so that your designs come to life and empower students, career-switchers and veterans. Another way to approach this is to identify barriers and design to address them.
· Life Stages/Transition Points to Support: Choose One to Focus On
- Life After High School: High School to College/Vocational Training/Workforce
- Changing Course: Old Economy to New Economy Job at Career Midpoint
- Becoming a Civilian: Military to Civilian Workforce
· Example: Life After High School
Michelle is a senior in high school in suburban Kansas City. Her parents never attended college and she’s looking for help online before she speaks to her school counselor. She’s not sure if the classes she’s taken in high school meet the requirements for schools in her area.
An application that provides decision support for a student leaving high school like Michelle might input her data on her high school and the courses she took. The application could then use public data on local community and state college general education requirements and compare Michelle’s high school courses to see if there are any gaps in her college requirements. It could then link to free online courses at a local college or sites such as Coursera or Khan Academy that the Michelle could take in order better prepare her to take college placement exams.
This is just one idea. Be creative and explore the possibilities for combining a user’s personal profile, public data sets and other resources available on the web.
Data Sets and Online Resources
· http://www.data.gov/ - government open data
· http://nces.ed.gov/ - national center for education statistics
· http://www.ed.gov/open/plan/data-gov - Dept of Ed open data
· http://studentaid.ed.gov/data-center - Data on federal student aid
· http://www.act.org/ - ACT site
· http://www.fastweb.com/ - Fastweb scholarship search
· https://www.coursera.org/ - Free online courses
· http://www.khanacademy.org/ - free online courses / tutoring
· https://www.udacity.com/ - free online courses
· http://www.va.gov/jobs/ - VA career help for vets
· http://www.bls.gov/ - bureau of labor statistics
· http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ - DOL occupational outlook handbook
· http://www.careerbuilder.com/ - career site
Education Related APIs
· http://www.parchment.com/c/api/ - college admissions data api
· http://www.apihub.com/apis/education - API Hub Ed Apis
Similar Projects and Resources:
· http://www.oercommons.org/ - Open Educational Resources provides curriculum resources for teachers, imagine an OER like resource for students making educational and career choices.
· http://www.unigo.com/ - student college help/guide
· http://mycollegeguide.org/ - college guide tool
· http://wethedata.org/ - making data relevant to people