For-Profits That Share Data

SAN JOSE, Calif. — For-profit universities, more than others, have evangelized the importance of collecting data in online learning environments and figuring out how to use it to better serve students.

At the same time, those institutions have been notorious for keeping their internal data close to the vest. After all, when your success depends on getting a competitive edge, guarding proprietary data — and the tools that make it valuable — comes with the territory.

That could soon change. In an uncharacteristic call for openness, a panel of for-profit leaders — speaking on Wednesday here at the Sloan-C/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference — said they are willing to share data with other institutions in order to improve student outcomes across higher education.

"I would be glad to share what we do with (the University of California) or anyone else if they’d like," said Wallace Boston, CEO of the for-profit American Public University System (APUS). "Because I happen to think that there are so many Americans out there who still can’t afford an education that I wouldn’t view my sharing of how we do things as (aiding) another competitor, I’d view it as helping our citizens out."

"Amen to that," chimed in Peter Smith, senior vice president for academic strategies at Kaplan Higher Education, one of the largest degree-granting for-profit providers. Kaplan, Smith said, is interested in finding out what works and what does not when it comes to boosting student retention and success — "and then, as we find out what works well, to share that with other people."

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INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION

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