Kuali Student Sunsetting $40 million project, moving to KualiCo

The changes with Kuali are accelerating, and there are some big updates on the strategy.

Earlier this week the Kuali Foundation distributed an Information Update obtained by e-Literate on many of the details of the transition to Kuali 2.0 and the addition of the for-profit KualiCo. Some of the key clarifications:

  • KualiCo will be an independent C Corporation with a board of directors. KualiCo will not be a subsidiary of Kuali Foundation. Capital structure, equity allocations, and business plans are confidential and will not be shared publicly for the same reasons these things are rarely shared by private companies. The board of directors will start out with three members and will move to five or seven over time. Directors will include the CEO and an equal number of educational administrators and outside directors. One of the educational administrators will be appointed by the Kuali Foundation. Outside directors will be compensated with equity. Educational administrators will not be compensated in any way and could only serve as a director with the explicit permission of their university administration with attention to all relevant institutional policies.
  • KualiCo’s only initial equity investor is the Kuali Foundation. The Kuali Foundation will invest up to $2M from the Foundation’s cash reserves. [snip] For its equity investment, the Kuali Foundation will have the right to designate a director on the KualiCo Board of Directors. The Kuali Foundation, through its director, will have an exceptional veto right to block the sale of the company, an IPO of the company or a change to the open source license. This helps ensure that KualiCo will stay focused on marketplace-winning products and services rather than on flipping the company on Wall Street.
  • The Kuali Foundation is not licensing the Kuali software code for Kuali products to KualiCo as Kuali software is already fully open source and could be used by anyone for any purpose — as is already being done today. No license transfer or grant is needed by KualiCo or anyone else.
  • The copyright for the AGPL3 software will be copyright KualiCo for the open source distribution that is available to everyone. It would very quickly become untenable to even try to manage multiple copyright lines as various sections of code evolve through the natural enhancement processes of an open source community.

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LinkedIn Releases College Ranking Service

I have long thought that LinkedIn has the potential to be one of the most transformative companies in ed tech for one simple reason: They have far more cross-institutional longitudinal outcomes data than anybody else—including government agencies. Just about anybody else who wants access to career path information of graduates across universities would face major privacy and data gathering hurdles. But LinkedIn has somehow convinced hundreds of millions of users to voluntarily enter that information and make it available for public consumption. The company clearly knows this and has been working behind the scenes to make use of this advantage. I have been waiting to see what they will come up with.

I have to say that I’m disappointed with their decision that their first foray would be a college ranking system. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these sorts of things have zero utility, they suffer from two big and unavoidable problems. First, like any standardized test—and I mean this explicitly in the academic meaning of the term “test”—they are prone to abuse through oversimplification of their meaning and overemphasis on their significance. (It’s not obvious to me that they would be subject to manipulation by colleges the way other surveys are, given LinkedIn’s ranking method, so at least there’s that.) Second and more importantly, they are not very useful even when designed well and interpreted properly. Many students change their majors and career goals between when they choose their college and when they graduate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of undergraduates change their majors at least once, and the average student changes majors three times. Therefore, telling high schools students applying to college which school is ranked best for, say, a career in accounting has less potential impact on the students’ long-term success and happiness than one might think.

It would be more interesting and useful to have LinkedIn tackle cross-institutional questions that could help students make better decisions once they are in a particular college. What are the top majors for any given career? For example, if I want to be a bond trader on Wall Street, do I have to major in finance? (My guess is that the answer to this question is “no,” but I would love to see real data on it.) Or how about the other way around: What are the top careers for people in my major? My guess is that LinkedIn wanted to start off with something that (a) they had a lot of data on (which means something coarse-grained) and (b) was relatively simple to correlate. The questions I’m suggesting here would fit that bill while being more useful than a college ranking system (and less likely to generate institutional blow-back).

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Kuali Foundation: Clarification on future proprietary code

Well that was an interesting session at Educause as described at Inside Higher Ed:

It took the Kuali leadership 20 minutes to address the elephant in the conference center meeting room.

“Change is ugly, and change is difficult, and the only difference here is you’re going to see all the ugliness as we go through the change because we’re completely transparent,” said John F. (Barry) Walsh, a strategic adviser for the Kuali Foundation. “We’re not going to hide any difficulty that we run into. That’s the way we operate. It’s definitely a rich environment for people who want to chuck hand grenades. Hey, have a shot — we’re wide open.” [snip]

Walsh, who has been dubbed the “father of Kuali,” issued that proclamation after a back-and-forth with higher education consultant Phil Hill, who during an early morning session asked the Kuali leadership to clarify which parts of the company’s software would remain open source.

While the article describes the communication and pushback issues with Kuali’s creation of a for-profit entity quite well (go read the whole article), I think it’s worth digging into what Carl generously describes as a “back-and-forth”. What happened was that there was a slide describing the relicensing of Kuali code as AGPL, and the last bullet caught my attention: Continue reading

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Investigation of IPEDS Distance Education Data Highlights System Not Ready for Modern Trends

This article is cross-posted to the WCET blog.

After billions of dollars spent on administrative computer systems and billions of dollars invested in ed tech companies, the U.S. higher education system is woefully out of date and unable to cope with major education trends such as online & hybrid education, flexible terms, and the expansion of continuing and extended education. Based on an investigation of the recently released distance education data for IPEDS, the primary national education database maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we have found significant confusion over basic definitions of terms, manual gathering of data outside of the computer systems designed to collect data, and, due to confusion over which students to include in IPEDS data, the systematic non-reporting of large numbers of degree-seeking students.

In Fall 2012, the IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) data collection for the first time included distance education – primarily for online courses and programs. This data is important for policy makers and institutional enrollment management as well as for the companies serving the higher education market.

We first noticed the discrepancies based on feedback from analysis that we have both included at the e-Literate and WCET blogs. One of the most troubling calls came from a state university representative that said that the school has never reported any students who took their credit bearing courses through their self-supported, continuing education program.  Since they did not include the enrollments in reporting to the state, they did not report those enrollments to IPEDS. These were credits toward degrees and certificate programs offered by the university and therefore should have been included in IPEDS reporting based on the following instructions. Continue reading

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New LMS Market Data: Edutechnica provides one-year update

In Fall 2013 we saw a rich source of LMS market data emerge.

George Kroner, a former engineer at Blackboard who now works for University of Maryland University College (UMUC), has developed what may be the most thorough measurement of LMS adoption in higher education at Edutechnica (OK, he’s better at coding and analysis than site naming). This side project (not affiliated with UMUC) started two months ago based on George’s ambition to unite various learning communities with better data. He said that he was inspired by the Campus Computing Project (CCP) and that Edutechnica should be seen as complementary to the CCP.

The project is based on a web crawler that checks against national databases as a starting point to identify the higher education institution, then goes out to the official school web site to find the official LMS (or multiple LMSs officially used). The initial data is all based on the Anglosphere (US, UK, Canada, Australia), but there is no reason this data could not expand.

There is new data available in Edutechnica’s one-year update, with year-over-year comparisons available as well as improvements to the methodology. Note that the methodology has improved both in terms of setting the denominator and in terms of how many schools are included in the data collection.

The Fall 2014 data which now includes all schools with more than 800 enrollments:

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