October 28, 2022
DENVER — Student data comes with big promise. With the right kind of data, colleges can understand what’s causing students to leave school without finishing a degree, which students could benefit from more academic advising, and where they should focus their recruiting efforts.
But getting access to this type of data — and using it in the right ways — can often be challenging. That was a key theme repeated by this year’s speakers and panelists at industry group Educause’s annual conference, hosted in Denver during the last full week of October.
“Many institutions are working to address issues like affordability, enrollment and graduation rates,” Susan Grajek, vice president for partnerships, communities and research at Educause, said during a speech. “Ongoing structural challenges can make this work difficult and expensive.”
College systems are often splintered, making it hard to share data across an institution. Administrators should also train employees about how to properly use student data while also protecting students’ privacy. And higher education institutions face growing cybersecurity threats.
Below, we rounded up three important trends about using and securing data, according to conference speakers.
Improving student success
Georgia State University has developed a reputation for being at the forefront of using student data. The institution is a high-profile adopter of predictive analytics, which can help colleges target services like advising to students who display warning signs, such as missing classes.
But the university is also using data, including student grades, to improve its courses. Its learning design division recently created learning analytics dashboards to help instructors see how students are faring in their classes in real time.
The dashboards helped instructors and learning designers pinpoint why certain students were struggling. And they provide learning designers with a “nonintrusive, nonthreatening way” to reach out to faculty who might need help, said Justin Lonsbury, the university’s director of learning design.