We live in a world that’s driven by data. If you take a look at your everyday life – you’ll quickly see just how much data plays a role in everything you do. Check your phone today? That just generated a lot of data. Maybe you have a smart thermostat at home? That’s definitely generating data. Or, maybe you just asked Alexa to turn on your favorite radio station. Not only does that create more data, that also helps fuel an AI engine.

The point here is that in the age of data, working with information not only makes our lives easier, it gives us tools to be more productive. From power grids and water systems to hospitals, public transportation, and road networks, the growth of real-time data is remarkable for its volume and criticality. Where once data primarily drove successful business operations, today it is a vital element in the smooth operation of all aspects of daily life for consumers, governments, businesses, and even educational facilities.

To put this into perspective, once siloed, remote, inaccessible, and mostly underutilized, data has become essential to our society and our individual lives. In fact, IDC estimates that by 2025, nearly 20% of the data in the global datasphere will be critical to our daily lives and nearly 10% of that will be hypercritical.

With all of this data being created, it’s also important to utilize it effectively. This is where the concept of data visualization, graphics, and dashboards come into play. Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of industries and verticals where, although data is being created, organizations don’t really know what to do with it.

This is where powerful dashboards and data visualization come into play. When you gather all of this data, a key stopping point is the lack of ‘visualizing’ the information in a productive manner. Data visualization and dashboards allow you to see information as a picture, graph, or illustrated collection of data. The point is that it helps you interact with your data to see new concepts and patterns that were once difficult to grasp. From there, you can drill much deeper into your charts and graphs to really understand how data is changing and impacting your business.

Follow all of that? As you take it all in, I want to apply the concepts of dashboards and data visualization to a specific industry: education.

Have you taken an online course lately? Done some kind of online registration? Or, maybe you’ve done labs or distance learning. Not only does this generate data, this also creates some challenges for educational institutions. In my experience, education technology is actually taking even more considerations around data visualization and dashboarding to not only create better experiences, but to create competitive advantages as well. So, I wanted to bring up three examples of where education has ‘learned’ to use data visualization as a powerful enabler.

  • Course and learning efficiency. This is where data visualization and dashboards can actually do some of the thinking for you. You can quickly find which courses are popular, which are over/under subscriber and where you can create better learning opportunities. Furthermore, data visualization can help you predict and forecast around various courses that may be coming up. When you create a data engine that ‘thinks’ on your behalf, you actually create a platform that’s much more efficient. Plus, it helps lessen the workload for administrators and educational leaders.
  • Greatly improving student and administrator experiences. Being able to spot inefficiencies, where there are bottlenecks and how to improve educational processes is huge. In the world of online and distance learning, data is king. You can see when students are accessing various systems, how they’re learning best, and which courses might need to be switched around. Here’s the other big element – you’re also monitoring overall system performance. That is, are students experiencing latency? Are some systems becoming saturated with traffic? Or, are there places where you can actually spin down resources for better utilization metrics? The point is that education is never stagnant or stationary. Data visualization helps your systems flow with demand. And, this can greatly improve student learning experiences.
  • Quick adaptation to market changes. I was working with a large university that would offer lots of online courses. Leveraging data visualization and a few great data insight dashboards, they were able to predict popular classes and when to assign additional resources. They were also able to create new courses based on their findings. For example, some IT and security courses were getting a lot of students signing up. One of the interesting points was that they were able to see which modules from within those courses were most popular. So, they were able to put together a popular course around advanced security topics and how this impacts various industries. Data visualization allows you to learn so much about your own educational platform. From there, you can make better decisions around market trends and even how to position new courses.

That said, there are a lot of other benefits that can include security, easier system integration, and even more student acquisition. Whenever you make the learning and administrative process easier, you create a better experience overall. For those in the education field, working with data silos can be exceedingly challenging. If anything, it can slow down the institution and inhibit learning. So, take a step back, understand where there are data silos and leverage powerful tools to integrate it all together. From student portals to administrative consoles, data visualization and dashboards can really help.

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