The typical college’s technology ecosystem is more complex, fragmented, and disconnected than ever before. Every corner of campus consumes and produces data that represent individual parts of an institution’s story—its students, its faculty, its colleges and departments.
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But to make strategic decisions, campus leaders need the full story these component parts could tell. David Kuehl and Apoorva Shah, strategy and new ventures principals at EAB, recently spoke with EAB’s Molly Mulderrig about the obstacles colleges face to access a holistic view of campus-wide data and how a data management platform like the Education Data Hub (EDH) can help.
(Note: The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: What is it about the current technology ecosystem on campus that makes investing in a data management platform urgent?
Shah: Ten years ago, a university had a major student information system, an HR system, and a finance system to manage their entire institution. Fast forward to today and there are more systems—and many more niche systems— for different business users across campus, leaving data siloed in different technologies. If I’m an administrator who’s trying to make decisions and I want to have a single view of a student, the current technology setup at most institutions make it really difficult for me to do that.
Q: How would having a more holistic view of data change how administrators make decisions?
Shah: Institutional administrators who lead across departments want to turn data into decisions. Yet the data they need tends to reside across multiple systems or departments around campus. They often have to make decisions with a partial view of the data or wait to receive data from Institutional Research, who tend to be backlogged with ad hoc data requests. But with a data management platform like EDH, they can access all the data they’re looking for directly in the tool or by sending data from the tool to an analytics dashboard. EDH helps administrators extract the full value of their data by allowing them to utilize more data, more frequently to inform decision making.
Q: As leaders share more data between departments and around campus, how are we protecting students’ privacy?
Kuehl: An important distinction between administrative users and data access users is that admins can establish role-based permissions and access management. So, if I am an administrator and Apoorva is in the enrollment office, I know he needs to see certain fields around students, like my first interaction with them and their high school GPA. But he doesn’t need to see their social security number or financial information. Permission is a very, very big deal in terms of privacy and making sure that users only see what is relevant to the questions they’re asking of the data or the systems they tend to interact with in their role.
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