There was a great article recently by Eric Stoller that painted the picture of puzzle pieces, siloed data and systems, and separate processes and initiatives across a single institution, specifically in the area of Student Affairs.  His challenges boiled down to: ‘Is there a better way, and what are technology vendors working on to make things easier?’ This lack of coordination is a challenge, no doubt, and one that, from our experience, impedes the way institutions are serving students and supporting their pathways. For over 15 years, we have worked with institutions on addressing the issues of student retention and success, managing through periods of rising and declining enrollments, and addressing the challenge of growing student expectations for service and support.  Confronting these challenges – while continuing to serve the mission of the institution – is the ongoing pressure many individuals who work in higher education are feeling.  Some are harnessing data to drive analytical decision making, while others are making leadership changes to align organizational objectives and break down silos. But with students driving rapid change and raising expectations of higher education, it will be difficult to keep up without being holistic and integrated in the approach.  The institutions that can harness and integrate their infrastructure and data, while developing a longitudinal view of student success, are the ones that will take a leadership role in the industry.

We have been working with our customers to overcome the “controlled chaos,” and have come up with one practical answer: Empower people at your institution to do their jobs in the most efficient way. Everyone faces different versions of “controlled chaos” and there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution. At Ivy Tech Community College, we leveraged technology and our contact center operations to take four different student services departments (who were leveraging different technologies and processes across 31 campuses) to create a seamless student experience. Boise State University uses Blackboard’s analytics tools to deliver real-time, actionable student success dashboards that faculty and staff use to focus their time on at-risk students. We’ve gathered stories from our customers like these into a research-based e-book that will provide best practices on how institutions are using data, programs and services to support their students along their journey. Keep on the lookout for that in the coming months.

It takes the right mix of technology, data and people to bring the solution together. More importantly, it takes a student-centric approach to whatever you do to support students on the pathway to fulfill their educational intent and goals. It is an exciting time to be with Blackboard as we continue to build capabilities that help achieve the mission of reimagining education.

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  • Dave Sosa

    The analytics option in Blackboard is useful. In my university however we have an actual retention department. I have discussed the option for using the retention option from Blackboard but they have their own system that they have implemented university wide. They are very good at attaining the data necessary to target student achievement. What I have found is that faculty love the option and use it for their own classroom. The faculty feel that it is a better tool and more convenient for their needs.