Abundant data on campuses should be refined and shared
- Universities are finding that the abundance of data that each segment of the institution collects can be very useful if it is shared, although often departments are protective of their information while incompatible systems make it difficult for it to be used campuswide.
- University Business reports on efforts at several universities to connect silos of data, including the IT department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which partnered with the education department to find new ways to improve student success – even by flagging students who get interventions for ignoring the syllabus or not opening assignments.
- Other colleges share admissions and recruitment data and a variety of important information about students if revealing it won’t violate FERPA and HIPPAA requirements, the report says. At Coppin State University in Baltimore, availability of that sort of data increased faculty outreach to students, and officials believe it played a role in a 20% higher graduation rate.
At the University of Arizona, Susda Ram, a professor of management information systems and director of the university’s Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics, has developed an initiative he hopes will use data to prevent students from dropping out, which happens most often in the first 12 weeks. While many institutions use such analytics to check on students (Arizona already tracks 800 data points), Ram is collecting different social and behavioral information, according to EdTech. He uses the college’s ID card tracking system data about everything from what a student eats to what buildings they frequent to predict freshman dropouts with an accuracy rate of 85% to 90%.
EdTech also reported that a recent survey showed leaders in higher education have varying views about how to use data. Most reported they had data analytics programs in place or were planning them, but they had very different ideas about how to use them, including to improve learning, retain students or increase efficiencies at the institution.
There also has been considerable pressure on colleges to protect student privacy as they use their data. Surveys have in the past indicated that students are willing to trade certain elements of privacy to improve their college experience, though they have increasing concern due to the rash of recent reports of improper use of data.
- University Business Connecting data silos in higher ed