Blackboard Analytics

Big Data Graphic 350px

Words that used to bore, like "analytics" and "data mining" have now been promoted to triggers for paranoia and suspicion. However Orwellian the implications may indeed be, there is still a benign and in fact beneficial side to these activities because the ability to collect and measure feeds into the rational search for product and service improvement. It's not all spying and dirty secrets, to be sure.

So in a world where we collect data on everything we do as an institution here at NAU, it is critical that we can access that data and represent it as usable information. The Blackboard Analytics application is one effort to do just that. The first phase of this project is focused on student administration data to include recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and financial aid data with the goal of providing campus leadership easier access and more consistent views of data critical to their decision making needs. Rather than rely on theory and anecdotal information to try to improve retention and the experience of students at NAU, we can base planning on empirical data and sound analytical methods.

Blackboard Analytics utilizes a different data structure than our existing data warehouse. This functionality delivers the ability to “drill-down” into the data that is provided in the high-level data on multiple axes. Thus, being able to view the underlying details that are contributing to the higher-level synopsis. This capability will add an needed analysis tool with the first analytics dashboards available later this spring.

The benefits in the ability to move through levels of aggregated data accrue in a fuller understanding of how trends develop, which can help the analysts avoid some of the pitfalls of statistics with regard to sampling methods. And building a history of such data permits us to see trends and make sounder predictions to better tune our organizations and processes to improve NAU's educational role.

Spring 2014
2/13/2014 3:05:47 PM