An Academic Early Warning System: Marist Named Computerworld Honors Laureate for Emerging Technology

Senior Academic Technology Officer Josh Baron leads team developing the Open Academic Analytics Initiative 

POUGHKEEPSIE (May 9, 2013) – For the third time in six months, Marist has been recognized for excellence in technology leadership and application by Computerworld, the industry leading news source.

Most recently, the College was named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate in the category of Emerging Technology. The award recognizes the work of a team led by Senior Academic Technology Officer Josh Baron (photo) in developing the Open Academic Analytics Initiative (OAAI), an open source system that uses predictive analytics to identify students who may be at risk of failing a course and then allows instructors to deploy a range of intervention strategies. Key Marist team members included Dr. Eitel J.M. Lauria, associate professor of information systems; Dr. Erik Moody, assistant professor of psychology; and Sandeep Jayaprakash, learning analytics specialist. Josh Baron

With a $250,000 Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, funded primarily through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Baron and his team at Marist led a diverse group of academic and commercial partners, incuding the College of the Redwoods, Cerritos College, Savannah State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and rSmart in developing and testing the tool.

"It is a great privilege to have been selected as a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate, which is testimony to the remarkable team of Marist College students, faculty, staff and project partners who were responsible for the success of our Open Academic Analytics Initiative,” said Baron.

OAAI leverages the power of business intelligence technologies and predictive analytics to address the degree completion crisis. Baron's team developed the first completely open source “academic early alert” system which allows instructors to identify students at the start of a course who are at risk to not complete it and then deploy interventions to help the student succeed. Research findings have been very encouraging showing statistically significant improvements in course grades and “content mastery” (receiving a grade of C or greater) levels among those students in courses that received interventions.

 “Through this pioneering work in the emerging field of learning analytics we have been able to positively impact on student course and college completion rates; both of which remain a major challenge for U.S. higher education, Baron said. "Being recognized by Computerworld as a leader in learning analytics is both great recognition of our prior work as well as our current mission to expand use of our system as means to help more students succeed in college.”

Marist Vice President and CIO Bill Thirsk says the success of OAAI and the Computerworld recognition speak well to Marist's strengths in applying technology to improve all aspects of teaching and learning. "This is an honor well earned," Thirsk said. "Josh and his team worked in the best spirit of Marist by using open source technology to help students most in need, potentially at any college or university, to succeed and continue on the path to degree completion."

Marist was also named a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate for its work with the World Community Grid project. Last year, Thirsk was named a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. The College is also becoming a recognized leader in business analytics and its application to other fields, including education. It recently received a $3 million state grant to fund the New York State Cloud Computing and Analytics Center.

Technology at Marist College

 Located on the river in the historic Hudson River Valley and at its Florence, Italy branch campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts educating 5,900 students in 44 undergraduate majors and 12 graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees. Marist is a longtime leader in the use of technology to improve teaching and learning as well as to support economic development through corporate partnerships. The Marist/IBM Joint Study provides Marist students with real-world learning opportunities and has helped the college develop one of the most sophisticated technology platforms in American higher education. The National Science Foundation recognizes Marist’s excellence in the field by supporting the Enterprise Computing Community, a Marist-led initiative to revitalize undergraduate education in enterprise computing; development of Marist’s large-scale computing research lab; and several full scholarships for underrepresented students majoring in Computer Science or Information Technology and Systems. Marist recently led a consortium of colleges and universities in developing an open source learning analytics system with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About Computerworld

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