F7-PRO4-3 - A Multi-Stage Curriculum Development Model to Address Knowledge Gaps Between Academia and Industry

1. Innovative Practice Work In Progress
Heidi Douglass1 , Gary Schwebach1
1 Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, Indianapolis, Indiana

Work in Progress: Curriculum for technology programs must remain current with the recent developments and present needs of industry to ensure their continued success. Identifying and incorporating the newer developments requires a knowledge of those things that are important to the commercial users of technology. We are proposing and testing a methodology that can easily allow educational programs to remain current using natural language processing followed up with confirmatory surveys. Our research uses employment postings and website descriptions of ongoing research/ product development from technology companies to identify current interests. This data provides a window into where companies are investing their resources for future growth, which we can then use to understand where their technology needs are going. The findings can then be used to determine what changes a program should make in their curriculum to address these needs.

The information from these different sources is collected from the websites of selected technology companies as well as from technology related job listings.   We then programmatically determine the ten most frequent words found in each subsection of the job listings search parameters and research/ product development. A correlation analysis for each word is obtained to give a context to the words in our results. Our next step in developing this process is to extract more focused topics in our data. The University of Massachusetts’ (Amherst) free and open source machine learning toolkit, MALLET, will be used to discover the topics present in the datasets and then assign weights to each topic. This will allow is to determine more specific subjects of interest along with the importance of these subjects to industry.

Immediately following the analysis, we will incorporate our results into a survey, which will be sent to the companies that we identified in our data search. This will be used to validate our findings as well as obtain more specific information on their needs related to the curriculum. This second component allows us to obtain more actionable information for making and incorporating new information and materials into the curriculum.

This is an ongoing research program that is approximately 30% completed. We have finished a pilot for the initial informatics process using data from technology companies in the state of Indiana within the United States. Using a sample of 34 companies, we captured postings related to health informatics and bioscience informatics. Using the above methodology, we were able to identify discrete areas on which to focus in curriculum offerings and updates. Our next phase of using a national sample within the United States is presently underway. Currently we have obtained approximately 700 national job listings and are investigating the associated companies’ products and research foci. We expect to have our initial results in time to include in our March 28 submission. Afterward we will conduct the survey phase and continue with our process. If desired by the conference, we can update our submission after acceptance to include our findings up to May 30 for the final presentation.