It’s time to get smart

Predictive analytics, driving smarter decisions and excellent student experiences

Stephen Morgan, Co-founder of Digital Transformation business, Squiz, thinks it’s time to get smart and use the data that we collect to improve things for everyone. 

In today’s increasingly digital landscape, all sectors – including higher education – are collecting more data than ever before. Coined as the ‘data revolution’, every transaction, every interaction, every device leaves a ‘digital footprint’ that adds to the enormity of data shared and collected on a daily basis.  

‘Big Data’ opens up a world of opportunity for smarter, data-driven decisions and personalised experiences, as well as the potential to greatly minimise risks. However, without a clear strategy in place for the management and usage of this data, it cannot effectively influence a student-centric strategy.

Millennials that apply to attend university are exposed to predictive analytics almost daily – a familiar example being recommended products based on what they purchased on Amazon earlier that day.

However, the data available can take this personalisation one step further, recommending content based on our gender, age, where we live and what the weather is like that day. The possibility to predict customer behaviour based on the past and act strategically is one that is available to all.

The kind of experience detailed above is what is influencing the ever-increasing student expectations – and if universities want to be in with a chance of meeting them they need to get smarter with how they use their data. 

Higher education has long been sector rich in data, continuously collecting static-data in the form of student names, DOB, qualification history and course information etc. 

However the increasingly digital way student can, and will choose to interact, with their university gives way to a rise in the collection of Fluid Data. The data obtained from swipe cards, virtual learning environments, student portals, eBooks and online journals hold the key for Universities to better understand student behaviour and make strategic decisions accordingly. 

Student Retention

Losing a student (and therefore their fees) can have a serious negative effect on a university. Attendance collected sometimes manually by a lecturer can offer insight as to which students are at risk but this is at risk of not being accurate. By analysing fluid data, such as student time spent in the library, what online resources (if any) they are accessing, and how consistently they are engaging with course resources can empower universities to not only identify behavioural patterns of a failing student, but to intervene before the problem is too far gone.

Enhanced Teaching 

With the rise in fees turning a University education into a sizeable investment, the pressure has never been higher for lecturers to deliver. Analytics can provide insightful data as to how effective the current teaching strategies are. For example, university classes are often published online – if a particular lecture is followed by many students having to repeatedly re-visit what was taught then this is a powerful insight that can reveal much about the effectiveness of the teaching style. This information can be used to predict what approaches will have a greater impact on the student-experience before the academic year has even begun.

Meaningful Feedback

The quality and frequency of feedback is an important part of the university experience, however in many courses the feedback is only provided alongside assignments, which means it can come too late to influence the student experience. Analytics can empower tutors to have a greater understanding of how each individual student is performing on their course, thus allowing them to provide better, more insightful feedback on a regular basis.

Through the data they are collecting on a daily basis, universities have the opportunity to deliver excellent student-experiences, make data-driven decisions with minimal risk and predict student needs before they are immediately obvious to even the student. 

The utilisation of data is a key part to putting your student at the centre of your decisions– download our free eBook today to find out how to kick-start your transformative strategy.

To find out some top tips about how you can collect insights and deliver excellent student experiences that will drive student recruitment and make brand advocates of the ones you already have, we’ve a free resource called ‘Building a Transformative Digital’ which you can download here:

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