Schools process a large amount of data on a daily basis. Whether it’s individual student data, performance data, or other valuable information, all of these can be harnessed by a school to help it reach its potential.  

Big Data has become a buzzword in the technology space. Essentially, big data is what it says on the tin – data stores too large to be dealt with by traditional means. But what does this look like for schools? Often, you might need additional software to support big data analytics. 

It can be challenging to know where to start when faced with your huge data stores. However, your school data has the potential to truly enhance your performance and your student outcomes. 

Your school management system already processes a great deal of your data on a daily basis, but additional reporting modules and software are key to getting the most out of your vital student and school information. So why should you utilise big data analytics for your school? 

What is Big Data in education? 

What big data looks like in the education industry can vary depending on the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. Generally speaking, it is all the data held within your data stores and software pertaining to your school. This includes student information, staffing information, lesson and timetabling data, assessment data, and more.  

The first step is to consider your goals. What information do you need from your analytics? Work backwards to understand which are your most valuable data stores. For many schools, the primary data store will be all information kept within the school system.  

Combined with a data analytics programme, you can leverage big data analytics in education to make positive changes across your school and drive school-wide performance 

Benefits of Big Data analytics for schools 

Your data stores should work for you, your students, and your staff to drive overall school outcomes. It can be challenging to know how best to manage resources and how much time to dedicate to big data analytics in education, but it’s important to recognise the potential that your extensive databases have for your school.  

Accessibility and flexibility 

The right software will enable you to access the full range of data available across your school, your MIS, or your associated software. Your data analytics should empower you to harness the full potential of your school data, creating full accessibility of your data stores for leadership teams and data managers. 

Big data is ordinarily overwhelming, that’s why your analytics software should be flexible and allow you to access key data points and insights anywhere. A cloud-based structure is key for all school software for a variety of reasons, but analytics software should be just as flexible for your key school decision-makers. 

Efficiency and resources  

Maximise efficiency by understanding where teams and students need resources, and where to focus your efforts for performance. Big data analytics enable you to access the most important information quickly, so that you can efficiently make decisions. 

These analytics and insights aren’t just key for leadership, but for wider school teams. They can understand where they’re achieving goals and targets, and where they need to push harder. 

Big data analytics in education

Use your data to understand where best to support teams as they drive your students and your school towards better results. Ultimately, the more empowered and efficient your teams, the better your school performs overall. 

For example, iSAMS Central offers a clear overview of your Admissions data within the in-built dashboard. You can understand where your applications come from, reasons for applying, and how your overall department is performing. Your applications are ultimately the source of your school growth, and this can help you identify where best to push admissions resources. 

Boost student outcomes 

Supporting students during their school’s careers requires a holistic approach for maximum results, for both the student and the school. Your students deserve to thrive both academically and personally.  

Set your students up with the best chance for success by utilising your data to support them as much as possible.  

Your reporting and analytics solution offers predictions and forecasts to help you better understand performance and allocate resources accordingly. This could assist you in dedicating time to specific students, form groups, or courses in order to impact overall results for students.  

With this information, schools can create unique and tailored support and programmes for students or teachers, and make changes to curriculums – if your courses allow for this. 

Wellbeing and behavioural data are also vital to your student outcomes. Recognise risk factors and events that impact your students’ wellbeing to best support each individual or group of students throughout their school career. Student care extends beyond the classroom and big data analytics can help you to take a personalised approach. 

Big data analytics in education

Up to date information and insights  

Your data stores contain plenty of historical data but, often, the best decisions are made based on the most up-to-date information. Understand what’s impacting your performance now, and then compare with historical data.  

However, it’s almost impossible to manage big data manually. As a result, many schools rely on out-of-date spreadsheets containing school information – making for riskier decision-making. 

Big data analytics technology lets you harness your data right now. Assess key data points and use them to build strategic growth plans and identify attainable goals for your school, whether that’s academic performance, financial performance, or overall growth. 

Enable a holistic approach to school performance 

Educated decision-making requires access to all levels of data. You need to understand the data points behind each trend, as well as the overall impact on your school, for a holistic view of your school’s activities.  

It’s easy to get lost in databases and spreadsheets that hold so much data. You need data visualisations that can provide palatable information on both a macro and micro level. Drill down into the individual data points or students behind the big picture, to further understand how that impacts the wider school direction. 

Big data analytics enable you to easily visualise the data stored across your MIS and see how each data point relates to each other. This enables you to take a comprehensive view of key performance information. 

How to harness your data stores 

So where do you begin? Your first stop should be to take a look at your data. Depending on your current software set up, your school data could be stored across multiple databases or integrated across your systems. Ideally, it should all be structured in a uniform and complete format. To get the most out of your analytics and reporting solution, you need your data to be as clean as possible. 

Big data analytics in education

You will also need reporting software that integrates with your existing software and databases as seamlessly as possible. This enables easy transfer of data and ensures maximum accuracy of insights and analytics. Consider intelligent software that works with your daily management system, for instance. 

The latest Business Intelligence technology, such as Microsoft’s Power BI, is particularly popular in both the commercial and education industries. For independent schools, there are often similarities in business goals with the commercial sector. Power BI offers the potential to truly harness all of your available data quickly and efficiently, in the same way that it performs for commercial businesses every day. 

Data analytics with iSAMS 

iSAMS Central was created to put the potential of Power BI technology in the hands of school data managers and leadership. The powerful reporting tool provides user-friendly data visualisations to enable smarter decision-making and better communication of key data across school departments. 

Seamlessly connect with iSAMS to make your vital school data perform for you. Our in-built dashboards pull data from admissions, student data, attendance, wellbeing, medical and more. You can also use the designer to build dashboards according to your individual needs.  

Interested in learning more about making data-backed decisions for your school growth? Access a demo below.