Schools and universities are collecting increasing amounts of data every day. This data is entered by faculty and staff as well as students themselves. However, the ability of machines in your schools to collect data is enormous.
Think of the CCTV footage, search queries in desktops, biometric captures and other data collected by machines. Add to it external data collected on students from public authorities, healthcare systems etc. There is huge amount of data that your school captures every day. You may not have thought of it but these can all yield actionable insights. A Student Information Systems can help you in this.
What is Big Data?
Big Data is massive amounts of data that cannot be managed and processed by your regular computing machines. There is no concrete definition of big data as it is an evolving concept.
But here are the three key features of big data:
1. Volume – Colossal amount of data that runs into terabytes and petabytes
2. Velocity – The data is continuously growing in real time
3. Variety – Data is in different formats from multiple sources
Schools face many challenges when it comes to data. Some of the common problems that you may identify with are:
Data storage – Huge amount of data require hardware infrastructure. This could be a problem to fit in school budgeting.
Different formats of data – Not all data is captured in same formats. Many organizations face issues in unifying incompatible data. This could be tables with different columns, missing fields or wrong date format
Decay of Data – Some information decays over time. This means the students leave, change of address or email ID become inactive. Database becomes faulty if the information is not entered manually in the system.
Duplication of Data – Sometimes information is entered multiple times by mistake or by different departments. An example could be entry of a parent twice for two of his\her children studying in same school.
Size – This is becoming a problem as many schools have been collecting data for more than a decade. Schools do not know how to manage this growing data and use it to advantage. Many times schools end up archiving as much as 90% of their data that could be put to use. They also lack the computing capacity to process this big data.
How can SIS help Schools?
Student Information System (SIS) can help you to tackle all of the above problems and more. SIS captures all student data without duplication. This is done by creating a unique ID for each student which is updated centrally. Changes made from different access points are also updated automatically to this ID. It also unites data from different silos and converts it in uniform format. This makes analyzing data a lot easier.
Many SIS systems are now available on cloud. This means that you do not have to invest in the infrastructure to store and process huge amounts of data. Cloud based systems give you the flexibility of accessing system from anywhere in real time. It also tackles the problem of data loss with data backup option available.
Centralized data allows all stakeholders to see updates in real time with their access. For example, a teacher will be able to see student’s class schedule to know the best time to meet her. Similarly, parents are able to see the assignment status and report cards with their access. This saves a lot of manual coordination and duplication of work.
With SIS in place you can put to use a lot of data that you earlier thought was redundant. It is possible to find new relation between student demographics and assessment rates. Data analysis can reveal new patterns that were earlier missed out.
Spokane Public schools found out that the two greatest predictors of dropping out from school are uninformed leaves in elementary school and students failing classes in high school. The school improved its graduation rate by taking proactive action based on this.
A Student Information Systems is essential for schools to capture data correctly and put it to use. Data is only going to grow at faster pace in future and you need a system capable of converting this raw data into actionable strategy. By sorting data and processing it, SIS saves you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run.