Pam Barber

Pam Barber

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Telling the Story in Higher Education with Data Visualization

Data visualization is a game-changer for administrators in the Higher Education sector. It offers a compelling and concise way to convey critical insights and information. In this article, we’ll explore how data visuals can effectively tell a story and why they are indispensable tools for managing complex data in higher education environments.

Highlighting Trends and Patterns:

In the world of higher education, staying on top of trends and patterns is essential. Data visuals, such as line graphs, bar charts, and scatter plots, can uncover hidden insights that might go unnoticed in raw data. IT administrators can use these visuals to track the growth of network usage, identify potential cybersecurity threats, or spot trends in student enrollment.

Providing Context and Comparison:

For IT administrators responsible for managing diverse datasets, context is key. Data visuals offer a means to compare different datasets and showcase historical data trends. By presenting data side-by-side or overlaying multiple lines on a graph, administrators can better understand the significance of data points in relation to each other. This can be invaluable when assessing the impact of technological upgrades or budget allocation.

Engaging Through Storytelling:

Interactive dashboards are a powerful tool for higher education IT administrators. These dashboards, enriched with data visualization, can create compelling narratives that help administrators make informed decisions. For example, they can explore data on student engagement, track the performance of e-learning platforms, or monitor the effectiveness of IT infrastructure upgrades.

Presenting Data Intuitively:

In the world of data, clarity is paramount. Well-designed data visuals ensure that complex information is presented intuitively, making it easier for administrators to grasp key insights. Using appropriate colors, shapes, and visual cues, data visuals guide administrators’ attention to critical points, facilitating better data comprehension.

Facilitating Data Exploration:

Higher education administrators often need to dig deeper into complex datasets. Interactive data visualizations equipped with filters, sliders, and drill-down capabilities enable them to explore data at their own pace. Whether it’s analyzing network traffic patterns, system performance, or user behavior, data visuals empower administrators to uncover valuable insights.

Simplifying Complex Information:

Managing data in higher education involves dealing with a wealth of intricate data. Data visuals simplify this complexity by breaking it down into digestible components. Whether it’s presenting analytics on classroom technology usage or optimizing resource allocation, data visuals help administrators make sense of intricate data with ease.

Data visualization is a must-have tool in the toolkit of higher education administrators. By harnessing the power of data visuals, they can make data more accessible, engaging, and memorable. These visuals simplify complexity, unlock insights, and empower administrators to make informed decisions that drive positive outcomes in the ever-evolving landscape of higher education.

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Self-Service Business Intelligence in Higher Education

Self-service business intelligence (BI) is increasingly being adopted in higher education institutions to empower staff, faculty, and administrators with data-driven decision-making capabilities.

Self-service BI enables individuals with different levels of technical knowledge to independently access, analyze, and visualize data without heavy reliance on IT or data analysts. This empowers users to efficiently explore data, generate reports, and extract valuable insights.

Benefits of self-service BI in higher education:

  1. Enhanced decision-making: Self-service BI enables users to perform data analysis without having to wait for IT to respond to their requests. This facilitates faster decision-making processes, helping administrators address challenges and opportunities promptly.
  2. Improved operational efficiencies: Self-service BI allows users to automate and streamline tasks like data cleaning, transformation, and visualization. This reduces the time spent on manual data manipulation and enables staff to focus on higher-value activities.
  3. Increased data accessibility: Self-service BI tools typically have intuitive user interfaces, making it easier for non-technical users to access and analyze data. This ensures that data is not limited to a few specialized individuals and can be utilized by a broader range of stakeholders across departments.
  4. By utilizing self-service BI tools, faculty and instructors can gain the power to track and analyze student performance data, identify patterns, and employ data-driven interventions to enhance teaching and learning outcomes. For instance, through dashboards, faculty can monitor student attendance, grades, and engagement levels, enabling them to identify students who may be at risk and offer timely assistance.
  5. Enhanced student success initiatives: Self-service BI can support student success initiatives by allowing administrators to analyze and visualize data related to student demographics, retention rates, and academic performance. The information gathered can be used to shape focused interventions and assistance programs to enhance student achievements.
  6. Improved financial management: By utilizing self-service BI, departments can effectively monitor and analyze financial data such as budgets, expenses, and sources of income. This empowers departments to pinpoint opportunities for reducing costs, adjust the allocation of resources, and confidently make financial decisions supported by reliable data.
  7. Institutional research and planning: Self-service BI tools can give staff the ability to access and analyze large datasets. This can support strategic planning, benchmarking, accreditation reporting, and other data-intensive activities.

There are difficulties related to the implementation of self-service BI in higher education. These challenges involve guaranteeing data quality and security, offering adequate user training and support, and effectively managing data governance to preserve consistency and dependability.

Overall, self-service BI in higher education holds great potential for empowering users to leverage data in their day-to-day decision-making processes thereby resulting in enhanced operational efficiencies and better student outcomes.

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Utilizing Business Intelligence for Personalized Student Experiences in Higher Education 

The digital transformation in higher education is not just about moving from paper to pixels; it is about harnessing the power of data to create personalized student experiences. Business Intelligence (BI) tools have emerged as vital assets in this landscape, providing insights that can significantly enhance various aspects of campus life. This blog will explore how BI tools are revolutionizing the way institutions analyze student data to tailor academic experiences, support services, and career advising—all aimed at increasing student satisfaction and retention.

The Importance of Personalization in Higher Education
Before diving into the capabilities of BI tools, it is crucial to understand why personalization matters in higher education. With increasing competition among educational institutions and a diverse student body with varying needs, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer sustainable. Tailoring academic experiences and support systems to individual needs enhances student engagement, promotes better learning outcomes, and increases the likelihood of retention.

The Role of BI Tools in Student Data Analytics
Business Intelligence tools are advanced software platforms capable of gathering, processing, and analyzing large volumes of data. When applied to higher education, these tools can sift through student records, academic performances, online activity, and other relevant data to produce actionable insights.

Key Features:

  • Data Integration: BI tools can integrate data from various sources such as Learning Management Systems (LMS), Student Information Systems (SIS), and even social media platforms.
  • Data Visualization: Graphical representations of data make it easier for stakeholders to interpret complex data sets and make informed decisions.
  • Predictive Analytics: Sophisticated algorithms can forecast trends, helping institutions anticipate student needs and make proactive interventions such as students who are at risk of dropping out, failing a class, or not returning to school.

Applications of BI Tools for Personalized Experiences
Academic Tailoring: By analyzing historical and real-time data, BI tools can help educators identify learning gaps or areas of interest for each student. This allows for the creation of tailored learning paths and personalized academic counseling.

Support Services: Data analytics can reveal valuable insights into student well-being and the effectiveness of existing support services. For example, patterns in student attendance or campus facility usage can inform the optimization of mental health services or study spaces.

Career Advising: BI tools can track students’ academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and even online behavior to offer personalized career advice. This ensures that career services are aligned with individual talents, skills, and aspirations.

Advantages of Personalization through BI Tools
• Increased Student Satisfaction: When students feel heard and supported, satisfaction levels rise, leading to positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.
• Improved Retention Rates: Personalized experiences make students more invested in their educational journey, thereby increasing the likelihood of them staying enrolled.
• Allow advisors to provide personalized guidance to help students make informed decisions about their academic and career pathways.
• Optimized Resource Allocation: Data insights allow institutions to allocate resources more effectively, be it in academics, support services, or career advising.

Business Intelligence tools are no longer optional add-ons but essential components in crafting personalized student experiences in higher education. By effectively analyzing and interpreting student data, these tools offer invaluable support in academic tailoring, enhanced support services, and precise career advising. The result is a more engaged, satisfied, and committed student body—a win-win for educational institutions aiming for excellence.

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Enhancing Administrative Efficiency Through Data Visualization and Business Intelligence Tools in Higher Education

In the dynamic landscape of higher education, administrative tasks play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of institutions. From admissions and student records management to financial planning and resource allocation, administrative duties are integral to delivering a quality educational experience. However, the increasing complexity of these tasks can often lead to inefficiencies and resource drain.

In this blog, we’ll explore how data visualization and business intelligence (BI) tools are reshaping the way administrative tasks are managed in higher education, resulting in increased efficiency and improved outcomes.

The Administrative Challenges in Higher Education

Administrative tasks in higher education institutions encompass a multitude of responsibilities, ranging from student enrollment and academic scheduling to budgeting and alumni relations. These tasks often involve vast amounts of data spread across various systems and departments, making them prone to errors, duplication, and time-consuming manual processes. Additionally, the need for accurate reporting and informed decision-making adds an extra layer of complexity to administrative workflows.

Data Visualization: Illuminating Insights

Data visualization tools serve as a beacon of clarity amid the complexity of administrative tasks. By translating intricate data sets into visual representations, these tools empower administrators to uncover trends, patterns, and correlations that might otherwise go unnoticed. This is particularly crucial in the higher education landscape, where insights derived from data can drive academic and operational improvements.

Imagine a dashboard that visualizes student enrollment trends, allowing administrators to identify peak admission periods and allocate resources accordingly. Data visualization tools enable stakeholders to interact with data, enabling quick and informed decisions. Whether it’s evaluating course performance, tracking student retention rates, or analyzing faculty workloads, data visualization simplifies data interpretation and supports evidence-based decision-making.

Business Intelligence Tools: Empowering Strategic Decisions

Business intelligence tools are a game-changer in the realm of administrative efficiency. These tools consolidate data from multiple sources, providing a holistic view of an institution’s operations. From financial data to academic performance metrics, BI tools offer a centralized platform for administrators to gain actionable insights.

In the context of higher education, BI tools enable administrators to streamline administrative tasks such as budget planning, enrollment projections, and alumni engagement. Automated data collection and reporting reduce manual effort, minimizing errors and freeing up valuable time. For example, generating comprehensive financial reports or analyzing faculty workload distribution becomes more efficient, allowing administrators to allocate resources strategically.

The Synergy: Data Visualization and BI Tools in Harmony

The integration of data visualization and BI tools in higher education yields transformative benefits.

  • Holistic Insights: Data visualization makes it easier to understand complex data, while BI tools provide a comprehensive view of operations, leading to well-informed decisions.
  • Customized Reporting: BI tools enable administrators to generate tailored reports, and data visualization tools enhance their impact by presenting insights visually.
  • Operational Efficiency: Automation through BI tools reduces manual data entry and manipulation, allowing administrators to focus on strategic initiatives.
  • Performance Tracking: Both tools enable proactive monitoring of student success, faculty performance, and institutional progress, contributing to continuous improvement.

As the higher education landscape evolves, administrative efficiency becomes increasingly vital for institutions striving to excel in academic and operational excellence. The synergy between data visualization and business intelligence tools offers a transformative solution to streamline administrative tasks, optimize resource allocation, and elevate decision-making processes. By embracing these technologies, higher education institutions can usher in an era of enhanced efficiency, enabling them to focus more on their core mission of imparting knowledge and shaping future leaders.

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A Single Source of Truth for Higher Education

Higher education institutions today are complex organizations that manage a variety of data sources, including student information, financial aid, academic programs, and research activities. This data is often scattered across different systems and databases, making it difficult for administrators to get a clear picture of the institution’s performance. To address this challenge, higher education institutions are turning to a concept known as a “single source of truth.”

A single source of truth (SSOT) is a centralized data repository that holds all critical information about an organization. In the context of higher education, an SSOT is a unified system that integrates data from various sources, such as student information systems, finance systems, and human resources systems, into a single platform. This allows administrators to access accurate, consistent, and up-to-date information about their institution’s operations.

Creating an SSOT for higher education institutions involves several steps, including:

  • Defining the data elements: The first step is to identify the data elements that need to be included in the SSOT. This includes data such as student demographics, enrollment status, academic progress, financial aid, and faculty information.
  • Establishing data governance: An SSOT requires a clear set of rules and policies that govern how data is collected, managed, and used. This includes data security, privacy, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Integrating data sources: The next step is to integrate data from various sources into the SSOT. This requires building connectors between different systems and ensuring data is normalized and standardized.
  • Implementing data quality controls: To maintain data accuracy and consistency, institutions need to implement data quality controls, such as data validation, cleansing, and enrichment.
  • Building analytics and reporting capabilities: An SSOT enables administrators to generate reports and analytics to support decision-making. Institutions can use business intelligence tools and dashboards to visualize data and identify trends and patterns.

The benefits of creating an SSOT for higher education institutions are numerous. It provides a comprehensive view of the institution’s operations, enables better decision-making, and reduces the risk of errors and inconsistencies in data. It also supports data-driven initiatives, such as predictive analytics, student success, and retention programs.

However, creating an SSOT requires significant investment in technology, resources, and expertise. It requires a collaborative effort between IT, data management, and business teams to ensure the system meets the needs of all stakeholders. Institutions need to carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of an SSOT and develop a long-term roadmap for its implementation and maintenance.

In conclusion, creating a single source of truth for higher education institutions is a complex but critical initiative that can help institutions achieve their strategic goals. It provides a centralized platform for managing data, enables better decision-making, and supports data-driven initiatives. Institutions that successfully implement an SSOT will have a competitive advantage in an increasingly data-driven environment.

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Creating A Single Source of Truth for Higher Education

There are stories that we are told time and time again by colleges and universities regarding reporting and data analysis. One common comment we often hear is how difficult it can be to connect disparate data to see the bigger picture. For example, you could be interested in evaluating general student success, but grades over the course of the semester are in an LMS while student information is on-premises. You may find yourself asking how to pull all that information together into one comprehensive report.

Picture a situation where you are in the same meeting as your colleague presenting data on the same topic. Your numbers are not lining up with one another. How do you know who is right? Imagine being able to eliminate the guesswork with data you know is correct. Informer gives you that single source of truth with perfectly curated Datasets based on your specific needs.

Data exists throughout the organization in multiple formats. A Dataset aggregates all formats into a single location within Informer. The Dataset creates a single source of truth that can then be curated through filters and Jobs to provide individualized data views to those within the organization. Implementing a single source provides data that you can trust, eliminating questions about which data is correct or trying to make sense of duplicate data.

We know that every school is unique, but everyone shares the need of connecting data to see the bigger picture, getting the data you need when you need it, data transparency, and having secure data for everyone. Informer is here to help you put the right information in the right hands, quickly and efficiently.

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How Informer 5 Enhances Ellucian Student Systems

Background

Colleges and universities consist of multiple schools (Business, Law, Arts, Science, etc.), each having many departments with substantial reporting and data integration requirements. These departments include the Registrar’s Office, Institutional Research, Financial Aid, Academic areas, Student Accounts, Finance, Admissions, and HR.

Many of these institutions run their operations using Ellucian Colleague or Ellucian Banner ERP systems. These solutions provide functionality that includes:

  • Admissions, scholarships, and financial aid
  • Student information such as inquiries, applications, student addresses, prior schools attended, SAT scores, grades, GPA, majors & minors, hours completed, and graduation information
  • Information on all classes
  • Accounting and finances, fixed assets, A/R, A/P, and vendor information
  • HR and payroll
  • Alumni information.

Reporting Challenges with Colleague and Banner

The file systems within these ERP solutions are known to have significant complexity. For example, Colleague is built on a UniData MultiValue database, which operates differently than SQL. It has complexity associated with the database schema, file structures, mappings, and more. As a result, institutions hire IT specialists to create standard and custom reports. Users still might not get the correct data in their reports because it’s possible to find 6 or 7 very similar field names. IT must also be involved if reporting and data integration needs to be changed.

Without having a user-friendly point and click interface in Colleague, analyzing data is often challenging for end-users, especially when the data is continuously changing.

Institutional leaders also face decision making challenges caused by the lack of standardized reporting between different schools and departments. What’s required is a reporting and data integration system that provides:

  • A single source of truth for data across the institution
  • Standard selection criteria for reporting
  • Consistent reporting formats.

Due to the challenges mentioned above, administrators often resort to using multiple manual processes. Many times, administrators create reports manually because data is in different systems or they don’t have access to the data. For example, some administrators print all the transcripts to identify and report on who is graduating, which takes much time. Not only does this significantly increase the length of time to create reports, but it also increases the likelihood of errors. They can do this in 5 minutes with Informer 5.

Creating a Self-Service Knowledge Center with Informer 5

Informer 5 makes it quick and efficient for people to access real-time data to perform analysis and produce reports and visuals that users can interact with by grouping, sorting, filtering, and more, despite these ERP systems having a tremendous number of data fields and complicated schema. Informer 5’s functionality and ease of use are also the top benefits that institutions appreciate.

Institutions quickly transition from being a heavily IT-dependent reporting environment to a self-service knowledge center with Informer 5. Management and staff find the new reporting and data integration capability a significant game-changer. They create reports, run them when they want, and share them securely with everyone soon after Informer 5 implementation.

People also find it much easier to share reports with their colleagues thanks to Informer 5’s ability to embed dashboards containing exceptional visuals. Many schools use dashboards for reporting because users find them convenient for getting all the information they need on one screen.

Automating Reporting Workflows with Informer 5

Informer 5 is an indispensable tool for departments to schedule their day-to-day work. For example, schools use Informer Reports to identify students who have their enrollment information either ready to be packaged for review or highlighted if the information is still missing. Reminders are then automatically sent to the students.

Informer 5 also makes it easy to merge criteria for reporting. For example, administrators at some institutions spend multiple days manually gathering data from different systems to create a report that identifies honors and probation students and drafting individual letters to those students. Informer 5 removes that complexity by automating the process. Users complete this process within a day by selecting the criteria for merging data, downloading the information into Excel, and then using the data with Word and Mail Merge.

Institutions also use Informer 5 to support their quality control initiatives by keeping departments informed if something out of the ordinary happens. For example, users can schedule Reports that say, “give me the students when certain information doesn’t match or where the social security number is missing.” Managers can also have a Report that isolates specific records that need to be reviewed instead of reviewing all the data.

Informer 5 Provides a Single Source of Truth

Colleges and universities often choose 3rd party applications to augment some of Colleague or Banner’s functionality, including:

  • Salesforce for contact management
  • ADP for payroll
  • Workday for HR/payroll
  • Slate CRM for Admissions recruitment
  • Raiser’s Edge for fundraising.

Information contained within these different systems creates the need for a single source of truth for reporting. With Informer 5, users no longer need to run separate reports in each application and then combine the output manually. Informer 5’s Datasets automatically blend this disparate data to create a centralized, curated data hub for analysis and reporting.

Informer 5 facilitates effective data governance by providing cleansed and standardized data that users can access to create their reports, such as pivot tables and charts.

Lastly, Informer 5 also supports an institution’s security initiative. For example, IT can lock down users with criteria that determines who gets access to what and when, and how much of it they get. IT also maintains control by authorizing users to access, generate, and share reports with confidence.

Summary

Some colleges still lack adequate and efficient reporting tools. Consequently, people who need information are dependent on IT and may wait many days, or even weeks, for reports. Alternatively, the ability to retrieve data from multiple sources, transform it and create a self-service reporting and analysis environment for end-users results in timelier, data-driven decisions.

Colleges and universities throughout North America have found Informer 5 to be the ideal business intelligence solution. Integrating data from Colleague and other systems to create a centralized data hub — one that is curated and secure for reliable analysis and reporting — is invaluable for not only management decision making, but also employee morale and productivity.

Learn More

To learn more about Informer 5’s many capabilities, please call 888-703-0016, or contact informersales@entrinsik.com.

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