Remodeling the Education Industry

By Sue B. Workman, CIO & VP, Case Western Reserve University

Few decades ago, most universities viewed ERP as a fully integrated system to manage their institutes efficiently. ERP solutions for managing data were traditionally closed hosted systems with basic interfaces but now educational institutions are swiftly moving towards a modernize Student Information System (SIS)as an easy alternative for managing student data. To leverage the advantage of this revolutionizing solution, Case Western Reserve University initiated the shift from close hosted system to SIS. However, the real challenge still lies in the back end switching cost of SIS from ERP, for most of the universities, to be able to seek return on investment for both high cost of implementing SIS as well as high cost of making SIS work.

"Students these days engage more through social media; email is certainly not one of them"

Latest Trends

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Business Intelligence (BI), predictive analytics and mobile device management are not just limited to enterprises anymore; universities and educational institutions are implementing these technologies to recruit, analyze and engage students for higher education. With the number of choices and instant access to information, it is now safe to say, students are the true customers. Students and their families keep a track of what value a particular program is going to offer, what will be the progress of the student and if certain corrections are to be made, how will the institution do that. CRM helps better in managing the contact, be it recruitment or be it students or parents or alumni with the way the communication goes. So, any person who is receiving the request for figuring out which university a student might want to go to or which location he/she prefers, SIS plays a vital role in analyzing the needs of the students or their families. Data analytics has been pivotal with marketing and implications that need to take place.

So, higher education is an investment, students need to graduate on time and be able to make the most of that investment. It’s the pushes of the market that influences the trends in technology and gives the required information that is demanded by both the students and their families.

The Loopholes Involved

There are many challenges to be met in SIS arena; this is just the beginning of being able to analyze data and extract meaningful information out of that data. Different institutions have different types of students; but not all data analytics are capable of providing information that is suitable for all institutions. For instance, Case Western Reserve University have a fairly high retention rate of the students but the university wanted to know why few hundred students left in the middle of the program, so the university could run analytics and that might give an insight about what were the reasons of them ejecting themselves out; universities can learn from these instances and make sure they can help such students in the future. So, there is countless amounts of data that has to be streamlined but only after analyzing that data, universities can figure out what is meaningful for not just general population but for that institution too.

Data Laundering

Most of the institutions have different repositories of data that may or may not be accurate, hence, the need of the hour for institutions is to start working on aggregating all the data for accuracy and clearly access and analyze the data in order to make good decisions. There is an article on Data Laundering in the magazine Educause and it has a great example there, comparing data to laundry; so it explains how there are various ways to clean the data, there are various ways to ease off the cost of doing that, so the point is that the data must be cleaned before we can use it; then we have to figure out ways to store that data and what we want to accomplish with it. This was an explanation of the processes that the data needs to go through and many institutions are still in the beginning stage of doing it; putting together all these various systems is a big challenge and universities are still figuring this out.

Methodologies of Student Engagement

Students these days engage more through social media; email is certainly not one of them. For student engagement, universities must use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even Snapchat, interacting with students by sending messages, creating various groups that they can join and getting all the required information from those mediums. A learning management system is usually a way to engage students in their studies and give information to them that they can work at. But universities have to look at new ways to do this as well; maybe by looking at things differently, setting up electronic sign in systems across the campuses to help student engage and derive information out of those systems. Also, students can be pinned with various student organizations that can help manage students and can use mediums to interact with them.

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