This is a summary of some killer Apps if EdUnify were developed and could be leveraged by new applications.
Feedback Loops and Analytics
Feedback applications could link the "supply chain" of student flows with a lookup service. Students progress from lower school to middle school to high school to community college to senior institutions could be loosely connected. Along the way, students and faculty enter the workforce, volunteer on service projects, engage in learning activities such as teaching, classroom attendnace, testing, study abroad and intersect with various service agencies such as testing, academic tutoring, credential verification, financial needs assessment, scholarship organizations, etc. Imagine applications that could ping a lookup service to determine the interactions across services and determine the events a student or faculty has followed. Now imagine if the application could summarize the aggregation of pathways and events to reveal everything from branches that end to most popular routes.
Lookup learning outcomes and comparability
Learning outcomes, or tags that would describe what a course or program achieves, could be automated in a uniform and consistent manner in the cloud with a lookup service. This would allow a common language or dictionary of how instructional units are organized by outcomes of learning or units with a common ontology. It would be like developing an application that provides the music staff where notes are recorded so someone can learn them regardless of instrument, skill or teacher. It is not intruding on how the music or outcomes are taught or learned. Or what is taught or learned. It would offer a common way to record the frames of learning, using a common dictionary with tags. Thus, having the common tags, new applications could develop to lookup, determine the closeness of fit and comparability. New applications could search and find courses and programs that fit a set pattern of learning outcomes for instance. And, people and organizations seeking to compare or find some level of comparability between courses or programs could develop applications that could cross walk units of instruction at all levels. Finally, institutions could render program and course requirements in a common framework, respecting autonomy and purpose, while allowing the freedom of interchange necessary to help develop the currency and value of the learning investment.
Government Agency data and information collection
Government agencies spend a ton of money attempting to collect snapshots of student, institutional, teaching, etc. data sets organized for different purposes. Institutions spend a ton of money trying to serve the expectations. Survey and Longitudinal systems are being developed to collect and aggregate subsets or entire student systems sourced from operational data stores. Imagine building and using the lookup service where data is polled when needed, in the right form, with security, that does not need to be transformed, because the service rendered by each source (institution, service provider, etc.) is mapped by ontology and tags, relating elements with a common dictionary proactivley when the web services are registered or published. The lookup service would be far less costly and reduce the reactive toll of exracting, transforming and revealing the after-the-fact incompatabilities. Another aspect of this, is that agencies could poll for services to determine the variations, to isolate them and understand how institutional systems behave across the sectors. That alone would bring a new wave of development and accuracy of data systems.
Student guidnance and advising services
Students are mobile and follow paths to credentials on their own timetable and often through multiple institutions. 60% of students transition between two or more institutios by the time they graduate with an undergraduate degree. Adults are re-entering the education system like a kids playing hop scotch exploring interests and opportunties. Helping and assisting students (and learners of all ages) requires access to information that is protected and behind the curtain of most institutions, or it is summarized redundantly on web sites (even with through content management systems) that duplicates and controls the duplication. Much of the information exposed becomes stale and missleading, thus advising is hampered by the reluctance of institutions (and their departments) to commit to 'answers' or 'simulations' when they know the underlying data systems could be out of date or in error. New applications could be built to serve student guidnance by using the lookup service and ontology tags to find answers that relate to the questions with greater accuracy reducing the guessing and missinformation we have exposed today across thousands of portals and websites, because there is no common way of tagging.
Applications to speed up learning, research, and knowledge gathering
With a lookup service, new applications could be developed to make knowledge and semantics made relevant programatically. Today, we all utilize Google or other search engines (which utilize indexes) to find what is most relevant determined by page ranking, a means of simply measuring the reference links. Imagine using ontology services to link services, documents, artifacts, or anything, that relates to a keyword used by a common dictionary. This form of index would be more useful and accurate than a web search, and could offer new applications to find things on the web across repositories that have been uncoded until now. The Cancer research project funded by the NSF is an example of enabling researches to codify and now find who is researching what in greater detail. Imagine if we could do the same for the business of teaching and learning across all courses. Imagine building simulation games that would have access to smart tags.
Applications for mobile, portable or wearable computer devices
Today, the restriction of proprietary systems locking down K12 and higher education data systems means new applications for new platforms is made very difficult. With a lookup service and common ontology, new applications could be harnessed in a variety of ways. Imagine allowing a student to access their course schedule for example and to have twitter reminders for assignments integrated with their common application for messenging. New applications could be developed for the iphone or blackberry that could span courses, programs and institutions. Students could find simply the notification services or alerts like twitter from security to what do I need to bring to class the next day.