E-learning: the dark side of poor Data Management in higher education

Daniela Cajigal
Written by Daniela Cajigal in Blog
E-learning: the dark side of poor Data Management in higher education
April 20, 2023
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Are Higher Education Institutions ready for the future of learning? The shift to hybrid education due to the pandemic has created new market demands and higher student expectations. This change has increased the reliance on data to manage student enrollment, maintain relationships with existing students, and offer quality education and services. But, with staff members working daily with students, not adopting technology and efficient data management can significantly impact the ability of institutions to meet these demands. This blog will explore higher education institutions' challenges and provide a comprehensive solution to address them.

Higher education institutions face several challenges by not adopting technology and efficient data management. These challenges can lead to silos between departments, poor communication, duplicate and invalid data, and increased manual processing. This negatively impacts staff's daily work life, especially those in admissions, marketing, and student success. For example, due to poor data management, admissions counselors may have difficulty accessing student information. Marketing may not have access to accurate data on prospective students, leading to ineffective campaigns. Student success advisors may struggle to access student data, hindering their ability to provide tailored support.

Did you know?

  • According to a survey conducted by the Education Advisory Board in 2017, 81% of higher education leaders surveyed believed that their institution was not fully utilizing the data it collects. The survey found that many institutions struggled with integrating data across departments, lacked the necessary analytical tools and expertise, and faced challenges in changing their institutional culture to prioritize data-informed decision-making.
  • Salesforce conducted a survey in 2019 on the barriers to effective data use, which included responses from over 8,000 consumers and business buyers worldwide and insights from over 1,000 business leaders across industries. The survey found that 56% of respondents identified silos between departments as a barrier to effective data use, while 54% cited a lack of expertise and training as a challenge.
  • Salesforce conducted a survey in 2018 called "The Connected Campus Report," which investigated the use of technology in higher education institutions. The survey found that, on average, only 35% of higher education institutions use data to inform their decision-making. The majority of respondents indicated that they rely on intuition and experience when making decisions.

As the world grapples with the pandemic, higher education institutions are facing a new challenge - to provide quality education and services while ensuring the safety of their students and staff. With the shift to hybrid education, learning centers have had to join the online education sector, adapting their platforms and classrooms to screens. This change has opened up new possibilities and forced institutions to rely more heavily on data management to manage student enrollment and maintain relationships with existing students.

Despite this, some universities still cling to traditional teaching models. However, the ones that have embraced innovation and offered additional services to the public have positioned themselves better than their competitors. In this digital age, there's no turning back. Those who refuse to innovate will be left behind. Therefore, it's imperative for higher education institutions to provide their students and staff with a seamless digital experience. After all, how can they demand competitiveness from others if they can't offer it themselves?

Devastating effects of inadequate data quality in e-learning

Devastating Effects of Inadequate Data Quality in e Learning 2

Poor data governance

Poor data governance can be catastrophic, especially when dealing with multiple campuses, remote work, and distant learning. Having accurate and timely information is essential, and without it, chaos can occur.

Many universities still treat their data as a mere byproduct of their systems, failing to recognize its potential as a valuable asset. Unfortunately, this oversight often results in poor data quality and a lack of formal programs to manage and govern it. At best, institutions engage in quick data correction projects that barely scratch the surface. Poor data governance can be catastrophic, especially when dealing with multiple campuses, remote work, and distant learning. Having accurate and timely information is essential, and without it, chaos can occur.

Many universities still treat their data as a mere byproduct of their systems, failing to recognize its potential as a valuable asset. Unfortunately, this oversight often results in poor data quality and a lack of formal programs to manage and govern it. At best, institutions engage in quick data correction projects that barely scratch the surface of the root causes of their data quality issues. Even worse, compared to other industries, higher education seems to be dragging its feet when it comes to creating senior data positions such as chief data officers. These positions are crucial for leading data management and governance strategies and establishing policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines to ensure the integrity of institutional data. of the root causes of their data quality issues. Even worse, compared to other industries, higher education seems to be dragging its feet when it comes to creating senior data positions such as chief data officers. These positions are crucial for leading data management and governance strategies and establishing policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines to ensure the integrity of institutional data.

Obsolete data

Starting the journey at a university should be exciting, but for many students, it quickly turns into a nightmare due to data entry challenges. The potential for errors is high when students fill out their applications. Some students may not understand how to correctly enter certain information, while others may simply be too lazy. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Duplicated records, invalid contact information, and outdated student records create more headaches for university staff. Obsolete data is a common challenge in colleges due to insufficient processes and resources to keep data up-to-date. This accumulation of outdated data makes it difficult to utilize effectively. Examples of outdated data include student contact info, department and course codes, and academic statuses. Updating databases can take an eternity, leaving staff feeling like they're drowning in data.

To make matters worse, students and staff cannot access their data and courses when the system fails. They must physically go to their campus or building to resolve their issues. This event creates a negative customer experience, making the staff's job more challenging.

Multiple data sources

Enter the world of higher education, where data is gathered from various sources, ranging from student information systems to surveys and beyond! Unsurprisingly, universities and institutions collect data on anything and everything all the time. But with so much unstructured data, like emails, documents, images, videos, and social media posts, it's a massive challenge to manage and process it effectively.

Unfortunately, without a strong data management program and solutions, these institutions may face data quality issues that can hinder remote interaction. Staff and students may not have access to the precise and timely data needed for their work or studies, leading to headaches and confusion. Institutions can ensure smooth sailing with the right tools.

Poor data integration

The struggle for data integration and system expertise is all too real. While some education centers make an effort to streamline their systems and eliminate redundant data, many still find themselves lost in a labyrinth of disconnected databases. Commercial systems used in higher education often exacerbate the problem, with vendors unwilling or unable to enable integration with other systems. The result is a tangled web of overlapping information about students and staff, with different systems employing different definitions of key terms. The confusion this creates can lead to misunderstandings and costly mistakes, leaving everyone involved feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Photo by Tim van der Kuip

A Seamless solution

Efficient data management solutions are the key to addressing higher education institutions' challenges in the modern era. The benefits of adopting a comprehensive data management solution are numerous, the most significant being the breakdown of silos between departments. By consolidating data into a centralized location, universities can ensure that departments have access to accurate and timely information, eliminating the need for manual data processing and reducing the risk of duplicate or invalid data. Staff can rely on data and trust AI.

In addition, a data management system can automate data validation processes, ensuring that data is accurate and reliable. This eliminates the need for staff to manually validate data manually, freeing up time and resources that can be better spent on improving student outcomes and enhancing the learning experience. Say goodbye to duplicated records!

For example, imagine a student who needs to change their major. Without a seamless data management system in place, this process could involve multiple departments, each with its own separate data systems. The student would need to submit a request to change their major to one department, which would then need to enter the request into their system manually. The request would then need to be manually processed by another department, and so on. This process could take days or weeks, leading to frustration for the student and delays in their academic progress.

In addition to providing benefits for staff and streamlining administrative processes, a comprehensive data management solution can positively impact e-learning and remote work. With many institutions relying heavily on remote communication and virtual classrooms, having accurate and up-to-date data is more critical than ever. For example, imagine a student needs to change their major, but this information needs to be manually updated in multiple systems across different departments. This could result in errors and delays that negatively impact the student's academic progress.

By using a data management system, institutions can ensure that all relevant systems are updated automatically and in real-time, making it easier for staff to support students. This not only improves the student experience but also helps institutions meet the demands of modern education. Institutions can confidently deliver quality education and services on-campus and remotely with a comprehensive data management solution.

About the Author
Daniela Cajigal
Daniela Cajigal Content Marketer
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