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To facilitate the analysis of student pathways, outcomes, transfer and institutional performance for continuous improvement, there is a need to bring together data sourced from the existing applications within our system.

When the data is compiled it must be tied together into usable structures that can be easily researched and presented to end users for immediate and future decision making purposes.

The California Community Colleges employ enterprise databases from a variety of applications in a variety of locations. For example:

  • CCCCO MIS Data Warehouse
  • CCCApply Applications to College
  • Electronic transcripts (K-12 and CCC)
  • Centralized assessment (CCCAssess + K-12 EAP, SAT placement tests, STAR, CAHSEE, etc)
  • Wage data from EDD
  • Student contact info from CCCApply and OpenCCC Federated user account data
  • Course catalogs and schedules
  • Database of approved courses and programs
  • ASSIST
  • National Student Clearinghouse
  • CSAC and ISIR (financial aid)
  • Fusion (facilities)
  • Academic planning data/ed plans
  • Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Timely and usable data may be presented to decision makers in dashboards similar to this one from Jaspersoft.With the economic crisis currently underway, we are experiencing a huge demand from incoming students while at the same time undergoing budget cuts in line with the State’s budget crisis. Increased student populations and workloads require a reporting system that provides CCC staff & researchers with instant access to data needed to serve students. Colleges can no longer afford the time lag and manpower required to collect data from disparate sources. Concurrently the legislature is making continuous requests for data with a mandate to fix postsecondary education in California. Timely and usable data is the key to good decision making in managing these problems.

The CCC Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Committee has set out the goal to "Change the way that outcomes are monitored by developing a statewide information system that provides real-time (and historical) student data to guide decision making."

There are currently three initiatives underway that call for a Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse approach.

  1. OpenCCCApply is a new Web 2.0 Application to college which requires standard reporting, user generated report writing, and data extraction, transformation, and download.
  2. CCCAssess calls for a data warehouse with appropriate reporting to handle student assessment data downloaded from the colleges and correlated with transcript and other data feeds.
  3. SB 885 (Simitian) Public education accountability: longitudinal education system. Authorizes the California Department of Education (CDE), California's three public higher education systems, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), Employment Development Department (EDD), State Board of Education (SBE) and California School Information Services (CSIS) to enter into a joint powers agreement for the purpose of implementing the preschool through higher education (P-20) statewide educational data system.

The efforts for Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse in both OpenCCCApply and CCCAssess project could be combined to research, specify and build a Business Intelligence Competency Center in collaboration with CCCCO MIS. This approach would provide program management for business intelligence, performance management and analytics, in addition to the Business Intelligence platform and Data Warehouse infrastructure. In addition to the benefits of a centralized coordinated approach, this work would better prepare us to take a lead role in SB 885 implementation.

Business Intelligence is not just software and tools, but a process involving key stakeholders. Active involvement by stakeholders and subject matter experts is key to successful BI. Any effort we were to undertake should be governed by a steering committee that includes key stakeholders. Data available in a BI system is the direct result of stakeholders identifying what data is of value.

The potential stakeholders of this initiative include:

  • Researchers
  • CCCCO Management
  • College Management
  • Faculty
  • Student Services
  • Students
  • Information Technology

The benefits the California Community Colleges realize through a coordinated Business Intelligence approach will include:

  • Alignment of an organization around Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
  • Quicker, fact-based decision making.
  • Reliable and more flexible presentation of information.
  • Combine information from different sources.
  • Faster collection and dissemination of information.
  • Make available new collections of data that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Uses Include:

Program coordination

  • regional program planning
  • curricular alignment

Enrollment management

  • central enrollment management for projections, facilities, registration prioritization
  • local enrollment management from hot MIS data

Student Advisement

  • staff: assessment and placement, degree evaluation, degree audit
  • self-service by student: career planning and placement, eportfolios

Accountability

  • yearly ARCC reporting
  • ad hoc and lobbying accountability (LAO requests)
  • performance funding (input and outcomes)
  • equity

For our foreseeable future, we need to be able to do more with less. A deployment of a Business Intelligence platform does not have to cost an arm and a leg. From Gartner’s latest report on Open Source BI, “Open-Source Business Intelligence Tools Production Deployments Will Grow Five-Fold through 2012.”

“Recommendations: Open-source BI has matured to the point where organizations can evaluate it to see whether it meets basic requirements, particularly when providing a low-cost solution is a priority. For traditional reporting, analysis or dashboarding needs, organizations should evaluate open-source BI options vis-à-vis commercial products. “

Certainly we should evaluate open source in conjunction with commercial offerings.

Have you implemented or are you looking at Business Intelligence/Data Warehousing for your institution? I’d be most interested to hear from you about your experiences<>