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Supporting Further Education aspirations with Data Analytics

An update on Jisc Data Analytic’s work with Further Education from Karen Foster

At Jisc working with our members to understand their needs is core to what we do. We always welcome opportunities to work together to identify issues and concerns, and develop solutions collaboratively. We have created an exciting new data analytics directorate led by myself, which has brought together colleagues from Jisc and HESA enterprise to form a vibrant group of experts within the data analytics field. This spans specialists in analytics for learning and teaching, digital capabilities and digital experience insights and the management of data for business intelligence.

From conversations with the FE community, we realised there was unmet demand for data analytics. Building on the work undertaken by Jisc colleagues over the last few years, we wanted to explore with members what a focused college data analytics offer could look like. We established a plan to meet face to face in a series of workshops with college leaders and badged this as a ‘college analytics discovery’. Our intention was to explore the data sources within colleges and how we might help to better integrate and analyse the data. Of course this plan was then immediately impacted by the pandemic and we had to rethink and adjust our approach to a set of online workshops.

As many of us have experienced, interactive workshops are a challenge online but with the aid of some collaborative software (admittedly this took a little while to get the hang of), we persevered. The result is we have been able to bring together a group with UK-wide representation, (which may have been challenging face to face). Our plan at the end of this period of discovery is to work with a group of colleges to develop the chosen option into a viable product that the sector can utilise.

Our first session highlighted an array of data sources – 36 at the last count – and with participants voting for their priorities, four main themes emerged:

  • Identifying and developing existing and potential data sources
  • Forecast, business and benchmarking modelling to assist planning and decision making
  • Understanding digital poverty: student action planning
  • Student success modelling: self-managed behaviour change

We are in the process of diving deeper into these themes through workshops this month, culminating with a final session in November 2020 where the group will decide together which option could enter the Jisc product development process and be developed in 2020/2021. It’s been great to work with colleagues in this way and to get into the specific requirements of further education. Next steps will be to invite colleges to work as co-designers with Jisc in the development of the first product and we’ll share progress on the project in the Data Analytics edition of Headlines, sign up here.

Karen Foster
Executive director data analytics

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