Skip to main content

Use of student data: dashboards

The University's Student Systems team have built a prototype dashboard for our academic schools, to display information about students on the schools' programmes and courses.  The prototype has several tabs, presenting information about applications for programmes, completion results, survey results, demographics, and assessment.  The team consulted with other universities about what works for them, took the best results we found and applied that experience to the needs of our University.

The next stage is to turn this into a robust service and this where the architecture team have a role.  We are currently working to define an architecture for the university's BI/MI data, both at the technology level (e.g. a data warehouse) and at the modelling level.  Much of the data used in the prototype has been scraped together using a combination of existing data marts and Excel, with significant effort needed to write complex reports across these multiple sources.  That is fine for a prototype but needs refinement for a production service.
The architecture team are working with the Student Systems team to define a roadmap for the BI data that underlies the dashboards.  There are some immediate tasks that the dashboard designer has already identified, such as standardising certain values in order to simplify table joins, and building BI universes for the data that is currently in Excel.  Moving beyond this, we are defining a target architecture based on a single data mart that will incorporate all the necessary data and be more flexible than the existing database.  Business logic will be moved from the BI universes into the data mart, reducing the complexity of the presentation layer and opening the way for adopting different dashboard tools.

In the long term, it would be desirable to link to data from other systems.  For example, a school may wish to know the current cost of a course, including data about the costs of the space and other resources used.  This cross-unit reporting is a particular focus of our wider BI architecture work, which I'll write about later.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

New staff for the EA team

I'm delighted to welcome Jason Murphy, who joins us as our CRM Architect, and Wilbert Kraan, our new Data Architect.  Both Jason and Wilbert have worked as consultants for several years and bring new skills and considerable experience to IS.  They both know more than I do about their respective fields, which is how I like to hire people.

So the Enterprise Architecture practice now comprises the three of us, instead of me working on my won, which means we have more capacty to guide the University's IT architecture.  We can offer a greater range of skills and can bring a wider range of experience to bear.  I'm really excited about the opportunities this presents.

As his job title implies, Jason will focus on contact relationship management, working to build a user community and to create a strategy for managing and improving the University's relationships with prospective students, research partners, community organisations, and other parties - to give them all a better …