ED MAP: Insights Blog

Discovery: You Have Data. Now What?
By Mark Christensen

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It feels like the pressure is on to make more and better use of all the data available to your institution. Data analysis is becoming a best practice.

But there’s a flood of information to gather: from tuition payment transactions to student enrollment numbers, to where and how students are accessing their course materials. And although data is playing a more significant role in helping shape the higher-ed decision-making process to improve outcomes for students, it also highlights the question of who will intervene to help students and when. With all this data available it’s like drinking from a firehose.

So, you have access to all this big data. But, now what? Where do you start?

To get a better understanding, I checked in with Tracy Kitts, Solutions Architect for Ed Map’s OPENVUE® course materials management platform. He works extensively with institutions just like yours to leverage data to help increase efficiency, lower cost, and improve student success.

Take two minutes to watch the video below and learn from Tracy as he shares a few tips to consider before you pull your first data report!



Higher education institutions have a growing interest in taking advantage of the data that has become readily available. Colleges and universities are using a wide range of tools — from administrative databases to courseware with built-in analytics — to make data-driven decisions to improve student outcomes. The data opportunities are endless.

Before you start collecting data, it’s important to understand the questions that you want to answer. What is your desired outcome?

For example, are you focused on intervening with at-risk students? Do you want to lower the cost of course materials? Or do you want to improve the efficiency of delivering those course materials to your students? Identifying the questions up front will set up measurements that can map back to your institution’s overall mission or specific program goal.

Once you have identified the questions that you’re trying to answer, the second thing is to look at the data that you have collected.

By targeting the desired outcomes at the beginning, data can then be used to determine your return on investment, better known as ROI. Measuring success over time, using ROI, discovers which areas could use improvement to help you achieve your goals, and can take the guesswork out of making decisions.

And then finally and most important is pulling together the right project team. Be thoughtful about who is part of this conversation. Often, the temptation is to jump right in and focus on the technical elements of how you’ll collect the data, how to warehouse the data, and how the data is analyzed. But before you even get started, it’s a wise step to invite people from the administration, from your academic units, from your IT support team, and from your student support team.

Remember, you don’t want to be collecting data just for the sake of having it, and data collection doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Identifying questions up front, mapping your collected data to targeted outcomes, and surrounding yourself with a good project team will result in understanding complex educational processes to help you fine-tune programs and policies to meet your students’ needs best.

Want more? Make sure to read Hodges University spotlight story and learn how they put the industry-leading content management platform OPENVUE® to work for them.

Mark Christensen

Mark Christensen
Senior Director of Marketing

Mark Christensen has worked in K–12 and higher education in various roles throughout his career from teacher to administrator to ed-tech marketing communications. He currently works with Ed Map, helping institutions navigate today’s dynamic and changing content landscape. He holds his MBA in Marketing from Rivier University and his Ed.D. in Curriculum & Technology from Plymouth State University/Argosy.

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