Business intelligence (BI), or the discovery and interpretation of large data sets, is an important factor in nearly every 21st-century industry. Industries as varied as healthcare, manufacturing, or even professional sports, have embraced the insights that come with implementing its principles. Business intelligence in education, however, has been slower to catch on. There is a reluctance in some school districts to apply purely quantitative approaches to the field of education.
This is beginning to change. School administrators and educators are seeing that traditional holistic approaches to education struggle to come up with the insights that business intelligence can uncover. While teachers may notice patterns anecdotally, BI strategies can conclusively show the exact time of day or week in which students perform best. Business intelligence in education allows school administrators to make data-driven decisions based on objective evidence.
Using Data Warehouses
All educational institutions rely upon data. Classrooms, schools, and colleges already collect vast stores of data, whether they realize it or not. Every classroom measures metrics such as test scores, assignment completion, and overall grades and scores. Along with this, classrooms also collected rudimentary data such as attendance and other enrollment numbers. The combined collection of data within educational institutions can easily match or even surpass that of the largest corporations.
All this data can go to waste though, if it is not stored, processed, or curated properly. Too often school administrators collect vast amounts of data only to fail to adequately use them. Part of this is a lack of unity and cohesion in the collection and storage of data. Attendance and enrollment statistics may be stored in administration offices, away from the test scores and assignment records kept by teachers.
This physical separation prevents decision-makers from seeing the connections between different metrics. One solution is a common best practice, the introduction of a data warehouse. A data warehouse provides an environment for all an organization’s data. Within a data warehouse, large and complex data processing can be performed quickly and efficiently.
In an educational context, that means decision-makers will be able to access all their organization’s data, within a single location. Attendance reports, test scores, class schedules, and more, all at your fingertips in seconds. Inefficient storage, however, is not the only barrier to usable insights. A lack of a usable interface is another significant obstacle.
Better Reporting and Data Visibility
User interfaces are critical in allowing decision-makers to accurately read and analyze their data. This can mean intuitive and easy-to-read dashboard interfaces within analytics systems, to accurate and clear data reports. When decision-makers have the resources that clearly show all their relevant data in a single location, they can connect the dots, leading to improved insights.
A central principle of applying business intelligence is increasing data visibility. School districts collect massive amounts of data each day. Not only is there the normal operational data that each individual school collects, but there are district reports, budgets, and operational data collected on a district level. This level of data can cause difficulties in interpretation for district-level decision-makers.
Implementing a data warehouse solves many of these issues. When data is stored in a single location, and then distributed through accurate and clear reports, decision-makers can convert raw data into usable conclusions. School districts are then able to quickly and accurately interpret the key indicators of their organizations.
Data-Driven Decision Making
For educational institutions, analytics provides a powerful tool in determining the best methods of using resources or assigning priorities. A data warehouse can give a school insights into which students or teachers are performing best, or which students and teachers need improvement. Schools and school districts already collect all the data that they need, analytics and other business intelligence principles simply help them maximize the return on their data.