This is a summary of some killer apps that anyone (application vendors, academic institutions, people in their garage, Facebook, Google, Microsoft) could develop when EdUnify exists. EdUnify is the infrastructure that enables these composite applications. It is not the intention for EdUnify to build killer applications, but rather lay the groundwork and provide the infrastructure to promote the development of these new applications that reach across higher education. Building these killer applications without infrastructure like EdUnify is cost prohibitive and, in fact, many application won't even be conceived until we can see the landscape of web service across higher education and other sectors.
Feedback Loops and Analytics
Once EdUnify and its interoperability services are available, it would be possible for anyone to build an application that used the search and interoperability services to find all available web services at academic institutions that provide faculty directory information and federate them with EdUnify's interoperability services. This application could determine where faculty members teach, what they teach, and more.
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.
New media applications
Imagine video streaming a class and allowing me to poll the index of videos created by a course. There could be hundreds for just one course and thousands across my academic year. How would I find what is relevant to me without an index? Imagine making the registries of video streaming of classrooms or presentations or special events available thru the lookup service. Podcasting is indexed. But, I have to go thru the proprietary service utilized, which complicates my search or limits it. Imagine how course and media applications could be cataloged and found. The index search and the ability to develop new applications is similar to how Libraries back in the 70's and 80's put their proprietary catalogs online and then began to allow interchange requests. New applications can be developed for subscribing to new media, old media and making the seach much easier.
A better way to help students find Aid
Today, financial aid, grants, scholarships and such are recorded and published by a huge number of outlets to help students and parents find what is available to help pay for college. Imagine building an application that could poll sponsors of aid, grants, etc. to determine the good matches for a student's query for aid. Instead of aggegating the aid opportunities in a database, which is static and disconnected from the source, a real-time accurate service could be developed allowing the student to know if the aid available, deadlines, and what is remaining of the fund allocation. If I publish an grant opportunity in other words, and I have five $1,000 scholarships with certain criteria, imagine an application that would show their status of award (respecting confidence). If the awards have been made, the student can see how may are remaining to determine if an application can still be made, and what the rules are. Applications can be built to help the student find the aid and apply for it using the index online.
Publishing the voluntary accountability data
Institutions could publish electronic services rendering the work revealing the voluntary accountability datasets. New applications could be developed to poll and report on the data sets, how they compare, helping students, parents and stakeholders view leading indicators and services with a common reference point. The lookup service and ontology coding would enable the applications to find the similar services and allow a program to call them in a common form. This would give institutions a competitive advantage for the schools investing in publishing the data set over other ranking systems such as US News and World Report.