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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Next-Level Benchmarking: How Do You Measure Up? | EDUCAUSE Review

Photo: Leah Lang
Learn how the EDUCAUSE Benchmarking Service takes the use of analytics to the next level by helping CIOs and other campus leaders measure progress on campus-wide strategic initiatives, inform Leah Lang, Director of Analytics Services, EDUCAUSE.

How can a college or university apply the tools in the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service and EDUCAUSE Benchmarking Service to achieve its goals? One example steps through a college CIO's process in using analytics to evaluate their context and support a new initiative to improve their standing among peer institutions.

Common College is a medium-sized, private, residential college in the heart of a picturesque community. Common provides an excellent educational environment, but economic changes have caused enrollment numbers to drop rapidly. What's more, Simon College, a similar school within the same geographic region and Common's primary competition, has managed to minimize tuition increases. Enrollment at Simon College has remained stable, and Common's trustees have become increasingly concerned about its financial health.

Preston Dent, PhD, a career college president well known for turnaround's was just named the new president of Common College. Dent's first order of business is to get Common back on its financial feet. Given the competition from Simon, Dent believes that Common must differentiate itself. After reading EDUCAUSE's 2016 Top 10 IT Issues and Key Issues in Teaching and Learning, he wants to explore e-learning as a way to enter new markets outside the traditional recruiting territory. Over the past five years, Common's faculty have experimented with e-learning delivery, but the college would need to seriously commit to the initiative to affect the enrollment trend.

Joe Seio is the chief information officer at Common College. The college community appreciates the IT organization, which has a reputation for excellent customer service, reliability, and stability. President Dent expects IT to be fully capable of supporting the e-learning initiative and during their first meeting asks his CIO to explore what it would take to expand the e-learning program at Common.

After the meeting, Seio retreats to his office somewhat nervously because he knows his organization is somewhat resistant to change and already feels strained under its current workload. Seio calls another CIO who he knows helped launch an e-learning initiative at her school five years ago. She tells him that she couldn't have done it without first fully assessing the current state of her organization and benchmarking it with similar schools that had e-learning programs. "Benchmarking," Seio says to himself. Good thing he remembered to complete the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service (CDS) survey this year. He's going to need that information.

Step 1: Finding Peers 
Free and open to all institutions, the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service has helped IT leaders assess their operational capacity since 2002. The annual survey gathers IT financials, staffing, and services data. Survey participants receive access to CDS Reporting, a self-service tool that enables institutions to create custom peer groups, view data in graphics and tables, download detailed reports, and look up responses to individual questions.

Seio knew the information he needed to understand Common's capacity and capability to support e-learning could be found in CDS data. The first thing he needed to do was find his aspirational peers, a set of institutions like his that already had mature e-learning programs. By studying the capacity and capability of these institutions, he felt that he could get a sense for where Common's gaps lay.

Source: EDUCAUSE Review