Connected, free-flowing data can be the key to understanding the student journey and positively impacting outcomes, but many colleges and universities struggle to discern clear insights from data that is siloed in separate systems. Collecting, connecting and activating data — which we call “data enablement” — can break down silos to inform decisions and drive success. Good news: The process doesn’t have to be painful.
Collegis Sr. Manager of Data Onboarding Bryan Chitwood, Ph.D., explains how a sequential process for enabling data can modernize and improve experiences for an institution’s key stakeholders.
In what ways can data modernize the educational experience?
So much of the learning experience now depends on digital environments, and effective use of data can be a real differentiator. Unlocking the value of data as an asset can help institutions improve very human experiences, such as deciding on a course of study, achieving academic success, delivering effective online courses, or advising learners on possible career paths. Connected data, activated in smart ways, helps drive a more seamless experience of learning, lowering friction for students and faculty alike.
How can data enablement lead to higher-quality experiences for students and staff?
I love that you asked about experiences. Data can seem cold and detached — like so many impersonal bits and bytes. At Collegis, we lead with data and technology, but we prioritize people. We take seriously our mission to help institutions improve the experience of being a learner, faculty member, or staff member. Our data enablement practice provides an accessible set of services that connect an institution’s data and surface integrated insights and signals. Enabling data ultimately means enabling better experiences for learners, as well as for instructors and staff. We’ve seen great success in bringing together data that was previously disconnected to help enrollment teams communicate more effectively with prospective students, to enable marketing teams to represent the value of new programs, and to ensure academic advisors are alerted when a student is struggling. Those are just a few examples.
Can student retention be improved by leveraging data? How?
Absolutely. Students lead busy lives; they have a lot going on, and sometimes things slip. Maybe I’m struggling in a particular course, and that course happens to be a key to success in my program of study, or maybe a registration deadline is creeping up and isn’t on my radar. Insights and alerts driven by connected data, delivered at the right time and place, enable faculty and staff to understand where they can intervene to improve a student’s chances of success — from a little reminder to an in-depth conversation. Using advanced analytics and scalable data processing, we can look across hundreds of attributes to understand when a student is struggling academically or is at risk of dropping out. Of course, connected data isn’t a panacea. It won’t solve all problems all at once. But we’ve seen great success in helping busy advisors by providing better awareness of a) when a learner is facing a barrier to academic success and b) how the advisor can help that learner to succeed.
What success have you seen in partner institutions that leverage data to improve the student experience?
I’ve had the good fortune to work with a number of institutions on enrollment growth, specifically focused on how we can provide highly actionable information to prospective students to make it as straightforward as possible for them to start a course of study. Connecting data across key systems is a game changer for many institutions simply in terms of understanding how the enrollment journey plays out for aspiring learners. It also enables better experiences. The ability to show how marketing and outreach efforts ultimately lead to enrollment outcomes has allowed us to work with our partners to design better processes and plan for the future. And in many of those instances, we’ve been in a great position to directly improve processes by activating the data we connected for them in key operational systems.
What is one thing you wish school leadership knew is possible through their data?
Getting value out of your data doesn’t have to be painful. There’s an understandable perception that connecting data across an institution is going to be an enormous undertaking with equally enormous costs. At Collegis, we bring deep expertise in higher ed data and technology, and we provide battle-tested methods for rapidly connecting and activating it at scale. If it feels like becoming “data-driven” is out of reach, we’d love to talk with you about how we can enable your data to achieve your institution’s goals while you focus on staying on mission.
Data Enablement Can Improve Higher Ed
From prospective and enrolled students to marketing and admissions stakeholders, data impacts everyone in higher ed. Data enablement can uncover the insights to inform strategies and identify improvements that benefit the student and staff experience. Learn more in “Technology and Data Fuel Higher Education Success for Everyone.“