Wednesday’s program at EDUCAUSE was initiated by Gary Hamel’s rousing address on “Reinventing Management for a Networked World.” Hamel, well known management guru and professor at the London Business School, laid out a set of principles for Management 2.0 and discussed a set of seven steps enterprises could take to be as nimble as the times demand. Clearly, higher education has to be much more adaptable in a profoundly networked world and Hamel’s message dovetailed well with one of the emerging themes we are seeing in analytics: The need for Reimagining Higher Education, post recession, to adjust to changing times and establish financial sustainability.
Other presentations related to the need for reinvention and the key supportive role of analytics in that task. Ira Fuchs, the new EDUCAUSE Project Manager for the Next Generation Learning Challenges Initiative, and Linda Baer, Senior Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, chaired a session to discuss Next Generation Learning Challenges. Later, Linda Baer and Michael Offerman conducted a session on “Action Analytics: Setting the National Agenda,” in which they discussed the Gates-funded efforts to raise the visibility and develop organizational capacity for institutions for finding new and collaborative ways to advance the deployment of embedded analytics that could dramatically improve the performance of institutions across the nation.
Our interviews today encompassed a cross-section of vendors and practitioners who shared with us their insights on developing analytics tools and practices, and the role of analytics in improving performance and reimagining higher education. By the time we have finished these interviews, both at the EDUCAUSE Conference, live, and in telephone interview follow-ups, we expect to cover the following vendor categories: 1) All of the major ERP and LMS providers, which include analytics components, including providers of “everyperson” tools like Microsoft; 2) major consulting/analytics firms such as IBM, 3) specialized analytics providers such as iStrategy, eThority, and Nuventive; and 4) and new analytics players identified at EDUCAUSE who have a special perspective, practice, service, or product that may be of particular interest.
Datatel is one of the major ERP providers and is committed to providing its clients with powerful integrated solutions conceived in partnership with other vendors. Datetel has won awards for its past partnership efforts, such as its portal built on Microsoft Sharepoint ®.
Datatel’s vision, according to Kevin Meldorf, is building solutions not tools based on the Enterprise Education Platform strategy developed by the Gilfus Education Group.. It is integrating higher education intelligence into the toolset. Datatel deploys Business Objects on the operational side and iStrategy on the integrated analytics application side. Many of Datatel’s ERP and analytics customers are community colleges and small to mid-sized colleges and universities, both public and private. Therefore, affordability is a key concern. Datatel has been pleased that it can provide a holistic solution like iStrategy that fits the budget of such customers.
So Datatel’s strategy is to loosen up the ERP stack and to forge partnerships with various providers to create integrated, affordable enterprise capabilities. It is looking to provide a 360 degree view of the student. Datatel is looking to better integrate with LMS platforms so data can be extracted and brought into the analytics warehouses, and its first foray in that area is with Moodlerooms. As for the future, predictive analytics is their next thing. Being able to predict the future and manipulate data like in the film “Minority Report,” monitoring and acting on student progress – that is the vision. Datatel is currently working on fresh offerings in this area.
What does Kevin Meldorf worry about? Culture. There is a sea change going on in education. Like the movie “Waiting for Superman” we need a cultural change in the willingness to change culture in order to ask the tough questions necessary to really improve performance. Embedded predictive analytics will be critical to this community effort.
Bill Graves is recognized as a thought leader in analytics and performance improvement who has participated in both of our National Symposia on Action Analytics. Bill’s blog and writings on academic performance are worth following.
Bill referenced Sungard’s interest in embedded analytics, as reflected in their offering Course Signals, an early intervention system that warns students who are at risk of underperforming in a course and facilitates faculty intervention and support. This is now available to higher education institutions through a joint effort by Sungard Higher Education and Purdue University It draws data from ERP and LMS in providing a real-time read on the student’s behavior. Tomorrow we will feature an interview with Thomas Wagner of Sungard to talk in greater depth about these offerings.
Bill Graves suggested that analytics has several facets: 1) formative assessment and analytics for continuous improvement; 2) summative analysis that captures information after the course/semester is over. This is not just reporting. We need to know what is happening over time to use it longitudinally. We need a better student record that draws from many sources. Primitive is our capacity to mine and analyze in an expeditionary way.
There are different levels of usage. First, the individual dealing with personal productivity. Then, information productivity where the individual responsible is held accountable compared to norms. This is a culture of evidence.
Mark Olson is a seasoned veteran of the higher education industry, who previously held positions at the University of Southern California, Columbia University, Sallie Mae, and NACUBO. He is also a co-author of several books, including The Business Value Web. He mentioned a number of large projects IBM consulting teams have undertaken, utilizing IBM’s consulting acumen and leveraging its suite of predictive analytics, performance tools and services to serve K-12 and higher education. These projects have helped clients to embed performance metrics in their processes, achieving the combination of analytics, architecture, and business processes that IBM features in its commercial and education analytics applications.
Higher education CIOS are well aware that IBM has invested heavily in analytics as demonstrated by their acquisition of Cognos and SPSS. The IBM SPSS Statistics 19 offering is their predictive analytics product. They support this with the White Paper, Seven Reasons You Need Predictive Analytics Today.
The conversation with Mark actually focused on several key philosophical and practical issues facing higher education. IBM’s Smart Planet mantra of instrumentation, integration, and intelligence, when applied to the challenge of reimagining higher education, leads one to ask the question, “Analytics and predictive modeling, to what end?” What will happen when no child left behind goes to college? It’s not enough to achieve financial sustainability if you can’t really clarify what the core mission of the university will be. A key challenge is to figure out just what performance is.
IData does several things: 1) tech consulting services, 2) Institutional Research and reporting services, and 3) product offerings. They provide business process tools for data definition and management. IData is one of the constellation of new companies that are services companies helping clients to deal with analytics issues. They help clients to understand knowledge challenges and to know their data. We know the data and related business processes in and out.
How do you get it right? Set the right goals and follow through. IData is like a data Sherpa for its clients. It helps understand linkages with ERP, particular tools, and the organizational mindset. Another issue is trust. You could do everything right on a project and still be wrong is you don’t co-create a sense of trust around the authenticity and rightness of the data.
IData’s products and services are very affordable. Great services as a value price – great at the price of good. The data cookbook product is an especially good value.
Capella has embedded these predictive applications and practices into their enterprise platforms based on the same analytics tools used by the credit card companies to determine when patterns of card-use behavior suggest that a card may have been stolen and is in the hands of someone other than its owner. Within days of a course starting, they can determine which students are in jeopardy, what their likely grades will be based on continuation of that behavior, and the likelihood of their registering for the next semester. Like many of the online universities in the market-driven (for-profit) sector, Capella has embedded predictive analytics in its fundamental academic processes.
Rio Salado College is one of the constellation of institutions under Maricopa Community College. They were recently featured in the AASCU/SCUP-sponsored Webinar on Predictive Analytics: Building a Crystal Ball on Student Success as an exemplary practitioner.
Rio Salado has progressively developed a strong action analytics capability, based in their “homegrown legacy” systems. They have assembled the capacity to measure both actual academic performance and the levels of engaged behavior of individual students and match that against past patterns of success in a manner that has strong predictive power. Data mining and predictive analytics meet current student activity. So rather than dealing predictively with “at-risk students” based on demographic and personal characteristics and past behaviors, they deal with “at-risk behaviors” based on current, real-time activities. The facts on the ground (or online) if you will, yielding 70% predictive accuracy. Leveraging this capability has become a fundamental part of Rio Salado’s academic management practice.
This capability is not an add-on to existing systems; it is fundamentally embedded. It yields systematic interventions to improve success, log-in behavior, and site engagement. This is a new set of unobtrusive metrics for the logged-in student.
Future…build capacity…how about employability…
Vijay Kumar is a driving force behind the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement and an author of Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge. At MIT he shepherds the Open Courseware (OCW) initiative and their newest project, which is styled “Greenfields,” and will combine OER resources with “Open Educational Practices.” OEP will provide the “know how” on how to deploy OER in a way that is localized and effective for different types of learners. OER/OEP are the necessary combination to accelerate the penetration of open resources into widespread application. This is a highly significant initiative.
Where do the analytics come into this equation? They are fundamental to effective deployment of OER/OEP, tailored to different settings. Consider this example, Professor David Pritchard at MIT has developed a vast body of knowledge on successfully teaching physics to students of different ability levels and in various settings and how to truly measure mastery of content, effective engagement, and demonstration of the habits necessary to be successful in learning physics. OEP provides the assessments necessary to measure attainment and success and identifies the behaviors that are necessary for success. Embedding these measures and metrics into enterprise systems supporting teaching and learning, including the providing of interventions when learners deviate from patterns of successful behavior, will enable not only the deployment of OER/OEP, but the enhancement of student success. Institutions need to acquire the capacity to embed this sort of “know-how” in their enterprise systems if they are to realize the benefits of OER/OEP.