Data Analytics Solutions in Higher Education

In the modern age of technology, analytics plays an integral role across all verticals – including higher education. The use of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method analytics can play a major role in everything from student retention to improving institutional branding. It can save both time and money in retaining resources, and improving day-to-day operations with significance.
A challenge many higher education IT departments face is procuring the right software for their end-user’s needs. This can be both confusing and time consuming. Often times, the project is simply driven by the end-users themselves, where folks in institutional research or other applicable roles want to either use tools they are familiar with, or have already done extensive research into popular options in the market. However, sometimes the onus is put on the IT and procurement staff. There are quite a few options out there, and ScholarBuys has a strong history of assisting schools in their product evaluation in this space.

Every tool is designed to be able to collect, review, and extrapolate data. However, beyond that, there are quite a few differences in specific capabilities that should be considered when choosing a solution. I recently assisted several colleges and universities in obtaining new looks at qualitative analytics via MaxQDA Analytics licensing, and there were quite a few pieces that went into the evaluation.

Areas of Importance

Data Mining: Proper data mining is incredibly valuable, and should be a key contributor of any solution you are looking into. This allows for the information you are gathering to be filtered according to a variety of metrics, and summarized into easily digestible reporting.
Collaboration: It is likely that, regardless of initiative, you will need to collaborate on findings with your colleagues. Our recommendation is to always look for solutions that enable easy access across multiple devices, and a shared environment for working on a project in tandem. A great example of an effective solution from a collaboration perspective is Microsoft’s PowerBI, which integrates seamlessly with Office 365 to enable easy access regardless of device, and simplifies sharing reports, dashboards and research findings.
Data Visualization: You will need to make sure that the solution is effective in communicating your findings in an intuitive fashion. This means easily digestible reports and dashboards that do not require users to spend much time manipulating in order to get the insights they desire. This is near the top of the list in terms of effectiveness when rolling out a solution on campus, as there is very little value in running in depth analytics that your colleagues cannot decipher without a background in analytics.
Cloud-based software: Another area to consider is whether the solution has a cloud-based architecture, as there can be advantages to running on a cloud platform. This means access anytime, anywhere, and from any device. It also means quicker access to collaborative features, and like many other cloud-based solutions, reduces your hardware footprint on campus.
Darren Shahinian
Higher Education Account Executive

ScholarBuys will not only assist you in evaluating this criterion across various solutions in the market, but we will also help you demystify the licensing. All analytics solutions will have options that include the bullets above, but figuring out the proper tier of licensing as well as license type can be taxing. For small departmental purchases, we typically see software licensed on a per-user basis. Some solutions, such as MaxQDA will allow a single-user license to be installed on multiple devices (without concurrent use). For larger deployments, or those that are more closely managed by IT, there are also network licensing options which are server-based licenses that do allow for simultaneous use up to the amount of purchased licenses. Think “floating license” use rights.
There will also be limitations to consider when it comes to user-access for visualizing data (not just building it). In many cases, such as PowerBI, you will have “power users” that are actually building out the reports and dashboards. These users will require different licensing than those simply digesting the findings.

Let ScholarBuys assist your institution with finding the right analytics tools for your business needs. With work with a wide variety of solutions such as:
  • PowerBI (Microsoft)
  • MaxQDA
  • Tableau
  • Nvivo
We work exclusively with education, so we are better equipped to discuss the more unique business initiatives where analytics comes into play. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your ScholarBuys Account Manager to setup a conversation with our licensing experts!
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