Education Datapalooza: Promoting Innovation in Improving College Access, Affordability and Completion

Higher education has never been more important to building a stronger middle class and yet tuition has gone up faster than family incomes for decades. Higher education should be affordable for everyone, not a luxury for the few.

Last August, President Obama outlined an ambitious plan to tackle rising college costs and make college affordable for American families.  The President’s plan will promote innovation and competition in the higher education marketplace by:

  • Publishing better information on how colleges are performing,
  • Catalyzing new approaches that can improve learning and reduce costs, and
  • Offering colleges regulatory flexibility so that they can innovate.

Harnessing innovative technologies is central to the plan, and the President has called on his Administration to support private-sector technology entrepreneurs and innovators working to make postsecondary education accessible, available, and attainable to all students.

Today, the White House, the U.S. Departments of Education and Treasury, and the General Services Administration are hosting an Education “Datapalooza” to highlight the role that private-sector apps, tools, and services can play in helping students get into and complete college. More than 500 of America’s entrepreneurs, software developers and education experts are coming together to explore new apps and services advancing higher education, in areas such as: choosing and applying for college, online teaching and learning, and new pathways for acquiring 21st century skills.

Many of the companies, students, and non-profits at the Datapalooza are showcasing apps and other products that use freely available government data provided by the Department of Education and other Federal sources.  One example is the Student Success Academy, where they have developed a comprehensive online program for students in the college search process. In another example, at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard, they are developing a tool that empowers faculty members to use active learning strategies to improve instruction. 

As we work to support the creation and spread of new tools along these lines, the Administration is also focused on ensuring that individuals’ sensitive information is safe—protecting privacy is one of our top priorities.

Get more details on the Education Datapalooza

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Todd Park is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.