Skip to the content

Importance of Data Analytics in Schools

The role of data in the education environment is evolving and has the potential to effect institutions, students and suppliers. Schools collect large amounts of data, gleaning information on student attendance, grades and learning styles alongside operational and financial statistics.

Traditionally, data has been siloed within the tens of management systems and hundreds of learning applications which schools use on a daily basis. As the number of platforms and applications has increased, so have both the volume of data generated and the potential value of analysing this information.

Increasingly, both schools and technology suppliers are seeking opportunities to consolidate and leverage this data for administrative and instructional gains. Consequently, the market for education focused data analytic technologies shows significant potential. Products servicing the sector typically fall into three broad categories, as below.

It’s important to remember that these dedicated analytic solutions are not the only tools leveraging data in schools. Capitalising on the increasing thirst for evidence based decision making, software companies servicing all corners of the institution are incorporating sophisticated data visualisation into products. Everything from the student information systems to transport management platforms are now utilising data to provide insights.

Analytic platforms feed on data; in a campus of data silos accessing and aggregating information can be a challenge. Supporting data integration is creating a growing need for middleware and standards, enabling interoperability between platforms. Leading providers include IMS Global, Authentica Solutions and Clever. The initial driver for this market has been administrative efficiency, enabling the transfer of class rosters and grades and facilitating single sign on, reducing the need for students and teachers to remember multiple passwords. Supporting data integration for analytics has been a secondary priority for most institutions to date, but one which vendors will seek to exploit going forwards. In addition to platform interoperability, data standards allowing schools to organise and store data is another important contributor to analytics usage. Perhaps most important of late has been the Ed-Fi standard, which is based on Common Education Data Standards and is free to licence for schools. The Ed-Fi Alliance is a non-profit group, offering a free to license data standard which is now used by most US schools.

Against this background of evolving requirements, use cases and technologies, vendors are competing to retain customer mind share, influence purchasing and prove the efficacy of solutions via data.

Platforms which were previously siloes of information are increasingly exchanging data with competing and complimentary products. Schools are demanding interoperability between solutions and the rationalisation of platforms in use, looking to leverage analytics to inform decision making for both school management and student learning.
Data analytics has the potential to influence the institution and the student at every level. As such, developments in this area have competitive implications for EdTech suppliers across a range of products and services.

The ability for data to add value to a vendor’s proposition is substantial and data analytics will have important implications for the competitive landscape. In the fragmented market of administrative technologies, schools are looking for more holistic solutions. This is creating a divergence in strategy between major providers seeking to achieve this. Some are expanding influence through acquisition and the internal development of complimentary features; others are looking at partnership and integration strategies to make platforms more open and interoperable.

Content publishers face a similar challenge. The use of data to personalise learning strategies threatens traditional business models within the industry, placing demands on learning platforms to provide an increasingly diverse and flexible array of learning assets which support individual learning paths and styles. Navigating this transition, providers will seek both consolidation and cooperation as the requirement to co-exist alongside competitor and OER content becomes increasingly common. Data will help dictate the shape of these relationships and inform strategies going forwards. Companies which can influence schools adoption and utilisation of analytics tools stand to gain.

Futuresource’s upcoming report – The Role of Data Analytics in US Education will seek to demystify the market for data analytics technologies, looking at both the K-12 and higher education markets and providing a perspective on the impact these technologies will have on the vendor community.  Drawing on interviews with both industry leaders and end-users, the report will provide a timeline for adoption of data analytic tools and explore the competitive implications analytic technologies will have across key product categories in the Ed-Tech market.

About the author

Ben Davis

About Us

Here at Futuresource Consulting we deliver specialist research and consulting services, providing market forecasts and intelligence reports. Since the 1980s we have supported a range of industry sectors, which has grown to include: CE, Broadcast, Entertainment Content, EdTech and many more.