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D2L Degree Compass Adds Mobile PeopleSoft Support To Student Guidance System

D2L has released a new edition of Degree Compass, the company's predictive analytics program. The latest version now works with both Banner and PeopleSoft student information systems, sports a new interface, and has been redesigned as a cloud-based and mobile-first application.

The intent of Degree Compass is to help guide students along their academic pathway by recommending courses that they have the best bet of succeeding in. Originally developed at Tennessee-based Austin Peay State University by Tristan Denley, the university's former provost and vice president who now serves as vice chancellor for academic affairs within the Tennessee Board of Regents. The software has been tested by other schools in that state as part of an on-going initiative within the Board of Regents to improve graduation rates.

The program uses predictive modeling to match students with the courses that best fit their academic history and program requirements to try to improve academic success and degree completion. The software compares individual student performance and "preparedness data" with the data of all the students who have taken the same degree path. Then it generates a custom set of recommended courses in prioritized order.

Data collected from Austin Peay showed, for example, an improvement in the number of credits earned by first-generation students. Traditionally, according to D2L CEO, John Baker, that group of students would earn two fewer credits per year "compared to a student who's second generation or getting better advisement. That adds up over time." After applying the use of Degree Compass to their course selection, that specific demographic missed 0.6 credits — still a gap, but less so.

Baker said he expected to see improved student retention among institutions that adopted Degree Compass. He especially anticipated pickup from schools for use by academic advisors to allow them to help more students. As a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement recently noted in its research, fewer than half of students (44 percent) say that an advisor has helped them set academic goals. "Within a few seconds those advisors can have all the courses that are available for the student to take right in front of them," explained Baker.

Degree Compass doesn't necessitate any specific learning management system; in fact, said Baker, "This doesn't require any LMS whatsoever."

The cloud implementation is expected to speed deployment, he added. "Literally, we spin up an instance for a client in the cloud. They install a plug-in into Banner or PeopleSoft and that extracts the data — including how the student did on their transcript going into the university — [and] sends it in anonymized format to the cloud."

"This is quick and easy. It's cost effective," added Vice President of Public Relations Virginia Jamieson. "It's something they can plug in this summer, when students are picking courses, and have going for the September 2016 school year."

The cost is "less than $5 per student," said Baker, and typically an institution would license a copy for every student.

The newest release of Degree Compass has been updated with the company's new user experience, Brightspace "Daylight Experience," which was built with mobile use in mind.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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