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President Obama praises APSU's use of technology to help students


            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Thursday morning, when President Obama outlined his new plan to make college more affordable, he singled out Austin Peay State University as a leader in using technology to better serve students.

            A release issued by the White House that morning stated, “To help students choose the courses that will allow them to earn a degree as quickly as possible, Austin Peay State University has developed the ‘Degree Compass’ system that draws on the past performance of students in thousands of classes to guide a student through a course, in a similar manner to the way Netflix or Pandora draw on users’ past experience to guide movie or music choices.”

            In 2011, then-APSU provost Tristan Denley developed Degree Compass, a course recommendation tool that provides each student with personalized recommendations based on their academic transcript. The tool helps students select courses, choose a “Major” and select programs that are more suited to their academic talents.

            “For years, we’ve been proud of this innovative tool, developed by our former colleague, Dr. Denley,” APSU President Tim Hall said. “Degree Compass has helped Austin Peay and other institutions increase graduation rates, and recognition such as this is a testament to this University’s desire to go the extra mile to help students succeed.”

             Since its debut, the tool has gained national attention in higher education circles because of its abilities to help students stay on track to graduation. It was a centerpiece for a $1 million grant Tennessee received in July 2011 from the Complete College America fund with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

            In January of this year, Desire2Learn (D@L) purchased Degree Compass. The company is now using the APSU-created tool in colleges across the country.

            In the coming weeks, as Obama travels the country to talk about college affordability, he likely will continue touting the work being done at APSU.

            “President Obama's proposals to increase college affordability arrive at an important time in higher education,” Hall said. “I'm proud to be a member of the Austin Peay State University community, one of the institutions he spotlighted for its innovation in helping more students earn a college degree. Even more than that, I'm anxious to see the progress we will all make as higher education and political leaders respond to President Obama's challenge to make college affordable for every American.”

            For more information on “Degree Compass,” contact the APSU Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 221-7459 or