Public Sector

From data chaos to data driven: Turning data into education intelligence

Education Tech

One billion learners suddenly shifted to online learning in 2020. This shift, affecting both educational institutions and workplaces, is here to stay. HolonIQ projects that the Education Technology (EdTech) market will triple by 2025, with global spending reaching $404 billion. Another two billion learners will use digital learning services by 2050. As a result, all levels of education need EdTechs to provide the services needed to support their classrooms.

The short-term surge in online learning has highlighted the need for long-term strategies. “As more data has become available...what insights can these organizations derive from that data? And how can they piece those insights together to form their strategic vision?” says Sunny Shah, Engagement Manager with Google Cloud Professional Services focused on modern business intelligence and analytics. “EdTechs are trying to solve some of those problems that educational institutions have faced around data availability.”

Harnessing the power of education data

Data can directly influence classroom performance. “EdTechs have a major role to play as institutions adapt to the massive shift in learners’ preferences and expectations,” says Jesus Trujillo Gomez, strategic business executive at Google Cloud focused on education and research. “Educators can gather, analyze, and use data to inform a range of strategic decisions.”

Many school systems lack the resources to tap into the intelligence in their data. “Schools and other organizations often use legacy systems, and don’t have the budget or IT resources to build a data analytics platform themselves,” Gomez notes.

We’ve heard from our customers that challenges to extracting data intelligence also include:

  • Lack of common data formats for many educational data sources

  • Lack of “clean data” without duplicates or inaccurate or corrupted information

  • Conflicting systems from legacy implementations and customizations

  • Complex compliance requirements around digital security and privacy

Schools can use data for insights into student attendance, performance, and engagement. They can also sort data by different categories to spot performance gaps. Curriculum, course, and test effectiveness can all be measured more easily, and operational issues can be spotted before they become a problem. 

EdTech companies help solve these problems by helping organizations develop a data vision (where to go) and data strategy (how to get there). Let's look at two examples of EdTech companies that have worked with Google Cloud to help their customers use data to improve learning.

Invoke Learning: Using AI-driven insights to increase student success

Invoke Learning delivers advanced analytics to higher education administrators and educators that offer a more complete view into the factors that challenge students' success.

To handle the volume of data factored into predicting student success, Invoke Learning needed an agile, advanced IT infrastructure that was both powerful and scalable — along with access to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and analytic capabilities. They chose Google Cloud to build their data infrastructure. They also became a Google for Education partner to integrate Google’s suite of education products, such as Google Classroom.

Among the Google Cloud tools Invoke Learning uses are Compute Engine virtual machines (VMs), Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions, Cloud SQL, and App Engine. These help Invoke Learning scale their infrastructure and allow for rapid building and deployment of their machine learning (ML) workflows and neural networks. They also use Pub/Sub and TensorFlow to power ML/AI. Cloud Identity and Access Management helps with compliance, ensuring data remains secure.

“Using Google Cloud services and leveraging our partnership with Google for Education, we are confident that we can help many more schools increase enrollment and boost success for even more students,” says Lige Hensley, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Invoke Learning.

iSchoolConnect: Modernizing higher education admissions with AI

Students spend an extensive amount of time applying to higher education institutions. Applications take students an average of 200 hours, adding to their workload. iSchoolConnect's mission is to bridge students and admissions offices, streamlining the application process through AI. Their team set out to reduce the average time spent on applications from 200 to 15 hours. 

To bring their vision to life, the team knew they needed to combine advanced AI with powerful infrastructure solutions.. They built their technology foundation with Google Cloud and partnered with Google for Education. The entire iSchoolConnect production environment is hosted on Google Cloud’s Compute Engine, and its database is on Cloud SQL. Google Cloud Armor provides important security controls to maintain compliance with regulations covering student information, while front-end deployments are handled through Firebase. They also use Cloud Functions and other native Google Cloud solutions to maximize system uptime and scalability.

Hosting everything on Google Cloud allowed them to build their prototype within 18 months. With their platform up and running, iSchoolConnect went from 10,000 users to millions between 2018 and 2020. By cutting application time for students, they significantly reduced the strain on both students and schools.

Making smarter, data-driven decisions

EdTechs play a critical role in helping their customers make smarter, data-driven business decisions, and Google Cloud can help. EdTechs leverage Google Cloud for expertise in data and analytics, meaning more time for content creation and end-user application development. “We are helping EdTech companies to build next-generation data solutions so that they can provide a better service to their customers and users,” Google Cloud’s Gomez says.

Up next: How data teams design a mature data warehouse

Feeling inspired? Let’s meet your EdTech challenges together. Visit Google Cloud for education technology to learn more.