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on Unified Communications & Collaboration
Last week I spent a day-and-a-half watching a large set of academic end users of Learning Management Systems threading a needle. In a good way. The Blackboard Analytics Symposium focused on all things related to customer use cases and experiences using Blackboard Intelligence, a hosted suite of data management, performance dashboard, and reporting modules, including Analytics for Learn (A4L) Student Management, Finance, HR, and Advancement. Blackboard Predict is a separate solution. Blackboard achieved two goals: hear advisory input from its base, and foster sharing of best practices.
Though I’m publishing later this month a subscriber research note on best practices and what institutions need to know, here are a few high points of what I heard at the event:
CSU CIO Patrick Perry
Why would analytics need to thread a needle in education? Let me provide an analogy. It’s been 50+ years since introduction of FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) – the U.S. legislation that protects the privacy of student education records (and impacts institutions that hold those records – think funding sources for one). FERPA had an impact on Higher Education such that it became much easier for institutions to leave student data in siloes – often XLS or CSV siloes at that! My analogy is to look at healthcare records – think how hard it has been simply to get your healthcare providers to talk to one another and share medical history. Now imagine 50 years of ingrained behaviors. Even most students don't see much of the data about themselves - hence the need for student dashboards.
Analytics products have been all the rage the last few years. Dozens of them have charged into the fray promising to data warehouse and produce actionable reports. As best I can tell, the promise hasn’t yet been fulfilled. The needle to be threaded will be about finding just the right balance between technology, algorithms, people, and workflow.
So that’s what the Blackboard Analytics Symposium was about. Besides getting a roadmap pitch that the Blackboard customers were loudly vocal that they expect to see delivered – or else! – the other treat for me: hearing about use cases like the Florida's 30,000-student Indian River State College, which embeds librarians in English courses, turning them into resources who can hold Collaborate sessions ad hoc with learners struggling with War and Peace. With the Blackboard Predict pilot taking place, those librarians will also be able to see learner data and provide the right guidance. Makes this English major-slash-collaboration-tech-evangelist’s heart go thumpity thump.