The Data-Informed Institution

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Content elements: › How education is using data for digital transformation › The mission and business value of data › Data, adaptability, and agility › Agility for data - 6 steps › How can we use data to bring adaptability to our institution? › In closing › About the author The mission and business value of data Data can be used by educational institutions to better retain students, foster diversity, support online and hybrid learning, drive fundraising activities, manage facilities more sustainably, personalize learning experiences, achieve operating efficiencies, and advance student outcomes. But institutions have often found it difficult to use data in these ways because they thought of data solely in the context of operations and compliance; as a result, they locked it away in siloed databases that were excellent for operational processing but less suited to open- ended analysis. Because the mental model was that of operational aspects of student information, class registration, billing, or course scheduling, data was siloed into student information systems (SIS), learning management systems (LMS), and other operational- and compliance-oriented databases. But using data to inform decision-making and drive automated activity requires a different way of thinking about it, and ultimately a different way of organizing it and working with it. Data is no longer about one-off "transactions" like matriculation or course completion but the subject of analysis and interpretation. Data has value beyond its operational use. How can we measure this value, and how can we maximize it? Each piece of data can be used in any number of analyses that will drive mission or business results. We can think of data, then, as an asset whose value lies in making possible the mission results that follow from those analyses. A few examples help illustrate the possibilities: A leading Australian university worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) partner Versent to plan targeted intervention programs for student support and retention. They discovered that 16% of the student population was at risk of dropping out. The intervention programs they designed are expected to improve student satisfaction by 14% and have the potential of avoiding revenue losses of up to $189 million. Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC), a four-year institution in the United States, used data to benchmark their programs against those of other universities in their state. By analyzing publicly available data from 30 of the state's other institutions, they can make faster and better operational decisions to meet student needs. BYJU'S, an Indian EdTech provider, analyzes student learning data from more than 15 million students to personalize their learning journeys and provide them with customized feedback. Betha Systems, a Brazilian technology company, works with secretaries of education in Brazil to reduce the dropout rate. Using AWS, Betha created a predictive model that is fed with thousands of data points based on 17 variables from the students' profiles. In the first year of piloting the model in the schools in Bombinhas (a city in the state of Santa Catarina), the schools were able to reduce student attrition by 20%. 3

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