I’ve been spending a lot of time recently talking about Business Intelligence in Education - both internally and with external organisations. Some of the work I’ve been sharing has come from colleagues in other countries, and I wanted to share some of the information further. I have two colleagues in the US Education team - Rob Curtin, the Chief Applications Officer, and Keith Ward, a Business Intelligence specialist, who recently ran a webinar on the subject (entitled “K-12 Analytics”) where they covered an introduction, an example of BI use in YES Prep Public Schools, and then gave a demonstration of what is possible using the Microsoft Business Intelligence products.

Rob’s first slide was a great summary of the issues in Business Intelligence in education, and he explained a common problem he comes across:

  The biggest mistake that I see nationwide is when [business intelligence] is treated as an IT project. And business intelligence is absolutely about the “I” - information - more than it is about the “T” - technology. I would like to stress that, because I see more and more people focusing on the tools and thinking about what it is they are going to buy…they think somehow that the right tool will solve their problems.  

He outlines three key points to successful BI

  • Fund the project - shift the resources into the project delivery and execution, not the product acquisition, because you probably already have the tools.
  • Focus on content - because you probably already own the tools, you can focus on the outcome, which might be adoption or culture creation, or building student insight, teacher improvement, or improving public accountability
  • Measure success by adoption - if you’re looking for a culture of data-driven decision making, then you need to measure the broad uptake of what you’re creating, because that’s a measure of the culture you are creating.

If you have an interest in the use of business intelligence in education, whether it’s for improving student performance through effective learning analysis in an individual school, or looking at data analysis across a school system, then I’d recommend finding some time to watch the recording of the webinar.

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