Lone Star College-University Park: LSC Students and Innovation Win National Attention

Member Spotlight

Lone Star College (LSC)-University Park's investment in students and innovation recently paid big dividends as its students and advisor won the 2012 National Education Startup Challenge with their entry known as the Educational Positioning System (EPS). This breakthrough innovation provides students with the ability to develop a career pathway by placing their educational information in their hands, assisting them in assessing their skill capabilities and then guiding them through the educational requirements to obtain future employment. The National Education Startup Challenge is part of the Startup America program from the U.S. Department of Education. The challenge was for students to develop an innovative solution to an educational problem and design a blueprint for a new company or nonprofit organization—a startup—to deliver it.

The U.S. Department of Education reported that submissions were scored on solving a major educational challenge, leveraging innovation, developing a marketing and financial plan, and providing a 60 second video pitch. Finalists were chosen by a panel of 16 prominent educators and entrepreneurs from across the nation. LSC's entry won the undergraduate division, representing all U.S. colleges and universities. The winning students will be celebrated by senior White House officials and the U.S. Department of Education at a future date. 

The EPS is designed to help students access and navigate their own transcripts, standardized test scores, personal interests against labor statistics, and career pathways to select the right college and end up in the right career. It captures student data along their entire educational journey. Students are then able to look over that data and choose exactly what path will work best for them as they prepare for and complete their college education. It gives students the informed choices in a graphic and navigational manner well before deciding on what college to attend. It puts the ownership of student data into the hands of students.

This breakthrough is possible with the new initiative by the White House called the Mydata Button initiative, which will allow students to access their educational records from a safe and secure data vault. LSC went so far as to purchase the URL, http://www.epsdevice.com.

Challenge competition adviser for the Lone Star College System (LSCS), Michael Mathews, chief strategist for innovation and entrepreneurship at LSC-University Park, has been a national voice and proponent of the concept and advised the students to produce the winning entry. Students eagerly took the EPS concept and edited the idea from a student's perspective to refine the business plan and focus it on how students could benefit from data ownership. It is one thing for educational systems to hold data and compute educational results, but a whole new innovation and transformation when students hold that same power in their hands and use applications, gadgets, widgets, and gaming convention to turn that data into graphical navigation for their personal and career success. This is exactly what the EPS is all about: innovative transformation.  

"I am overjoyed at the thought of this awesome concept being recognized as a way to improve the educational journey of American students," said Haley Barnett, lead student on the innovation project. "When Mr. Mathews approached me with the concept, I began envisioning elementary students reviewing their EPS devices with their parents, mapping out the next years of their lives, and making informed decisions based on their own education data."  Barnett was assisted by Tiffany Mathews, a recent graduate of Chippewa Valley Technical College, who worked on surveying over 8,000 students and analyzing the obtained data to determine what students want from campus technology.

LSC-University Park President, Shah Ardalan, says "Innovation is a major key to our success as a college, city, and nation, and without the League for Innovation pushing and influencing, we may not have been as visionary in getting to this place called Invitation 2 Innovate. I applaud the League, our students, faculty, and innovative advisors for making this transformational innovation on behalf of all colleges and universities in the U.S."

"Watching the innovators of tomorrow get excited about ideas coming to life is very satisfying to me," said Mathews. Mathews also said that LSC-University Park has been designed as a center for innovative partnerships between education, business, industry, and visionary organizations like the League for Innovation. There is absolutely no reason why every college in the U.S. is not tapping into their student base to encourage, motivate, and synergize the ambition and insight that students have today. To listen to Haley Barnett say, 'Mr. President, fellow Americans, and judges, my generation and I are asking you to entrust us to transform how every American navigates the educational landscape...it's time for us to lead and shine' is awe inspiring. Students are ready to leverage technology in ways that we have never seen before.

"Winning this type of national recognition demonstrates that the students have the ability to help leaders across the country innovate and change the way in which students navigate the landscape of education," said Richard Carpenter, chancellor of LSCS, in a statement. "I believe Lone Star College System, with the help of organizations like the League for Innovation, is on the forefront of seeing transformative innovation like never before, but we need to leverage the students for that innovation."

Click here to read an article describing EPS, its history, and its future.

Click here to read an October 21, 2011, Chronicle of Higher Education article in which Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to President Obama, comments on the EPS concept at an EDUCAUSE roundtable discussion.

Statements of Support

"Why aren't we using a GPS equivalent system in education?"

Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to President Obama

"The Educational Positioning System would be the first breakthrough that could connect students, parents, teachers, K-20, and the workforce. This personalized system could align the experience, qualifications, gaps, and history of students to the needs of the American workforce. The EPS system could transform the 21st Century education process if it truly navigates, directs, aligns, and connects students to the success we have always strived to achieve. It is time to embrace this level of transformation!" 

Trent Grundmeyer, K-12 Principal, Indianola, IA High School

"The IMS Global Learning Consortium created the collaboration that helped springboard a new generation of educational 'learning management systems' into popular use. IMS is now rallying a new collaboration focused on the next new category of products required to enable flexible education choices we are calling Educational and Career Positioning Systems.  The Educational Positioning System (EPS) at LoneStar College is a groundbreaking effort targeted at helping students and institutions make the right choices throughout the educational journey.  This type of product is heralding the future of the value both student and institutions will expect from information technology."

Rob Abel, Chief Executive, IMS Global Learning Consortium 

"Mike Mathews, my colleague, has used the now familiar applications of global positioning systems (GPS) technology as a metaphor for imagining an 'educational positioning system' (EPS)—a suite of integrated technologies and massively interconnected data that would enable and help deliver many of the benefits listed above. These ideas and possibilities are incentives for creating the Education Leadership Commons from an economic governance model—the Internet Society's—to make the current completions marketplace more transparent, productive, and beneficial mutually to education providers and their external investors, especially to their students."

William H. Graves, Ph.D., Sr. V.P. for Academic Strategy, SunGard Higher Education, Emeritus Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill

"Education has long talked about individualization and personalization, but has been slow to truly take up the cause. Today's powerful data systems can make individually tailored plans and programs a reality, and the Educational Positioning System (EPS), based on comprehensive algorithms, can form the framework for that to occur. Think of the potential, not only for the students, but for the educational institutions to plan, prepare, and budget for the future of America. My dream of truly individualized programs and curricula could become a reality through a framework like EPS. The harnessing of data is our future and visionary leaders will be quick to exploit the potential of this system."

Dr. William Ihlenfeldt, retired college president, author of Visionary Leadership