Skip to content

September 19, 2015: Five Reasons Data Analytics are Essential to the Future of Distance Education

The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and the analysis of large data sets will become a key basis of productivity, innovation, and growth in the near future.[1] From my vantage point at DEAC, I observe how the use of data analytics is trending upward across higher education and receiving an increasing level of attention for its value as a versatile tool to improve student retention and educational success. This is why I invited Dr. Linda Baer to join us for our Fall Workshop in October. Linda is a leading expert on higher education data analytics. She writes in her white paper titled Quality, Accountability, and Action, that

Leadership must identify future trends and needs, lead change agendas, invest in what makes a difference, and remain authentic and courageous.

Dr. Baer’s presentations will expand on this point and offer key insights into the innovative capabilities that data analytics offer the future of education when she and her team present at DEAC’s upcoming Fall Workshop being held October 18 – 20, 2015 in Palm Springs, California. I hope you are planning to attend!

Why are data analytics so important?

The capabilities brought to fruition from data analytics align with DEAC’s strategic vision to pioneer innovation and change in distance education that supports students in achieving their goals. Data analytics provide a big picture to institutional leadership to drive strategic decision making by:

  1. Helping institutions develop early warning systems that identify when students may be getting off track.
  2. Helping to identify the factors contributing to irregular outcomes and helping institutions appropriately address outcomes that do not meet expectations.
  3. Providing accurate information that helps the strategic allocation of resources to support learning.
  4. Identifying patterns in the data that potentially signal an attack by a financial aid fraud ring.
  5. Documenting how much time students spend on certain learning modules or activities and then in turn helping institutions to determine if a course needs to be redesigned.

Do you want to learn more about how data analytics can creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality at your institution?

[1] Source: “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity,” McKinsey Global Institute, 2011.


  1. Mary Adams wrote:

    Great topic Leah and excited to see you bringing this to DEAC schools. We have some exciting things to share since we’ve begun using Illume. By the time the conference starts we hope to be able to share about our experience with Inspire, but I know other schools are doing some exciting work also. I hope all of them will be in attendance.

    Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  2. I agree with Mary Adams. I would like to add that higher education institutions will need to identify early trends quickly and incorporate those trends into the strategic plan making process at least as a discussion point. In the volatile and rapidly changing political-technological-cultural environment that education has faced in the past three decades, and will continue to face,education leaders will need to be looking 5 years or more into the future. In the past, strategic plans were fairly stable and flexible but this will not hold true. In the future strategic planning will become more dependent on sound data analysis. Moreover, in the past educational change was slow to generalize, taking 15 or more years. Today, that is not the case. Education leaders must be visionaries and data analysis is the “telescope” they will need to use.

    Friday, September 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm | Permalink