Big Data and Higher Education: These Apps Change Everything

san-jose-state-university-106865_150Big Data is going to college. The companies on this list have been developing innovative higher education analytics apps. Universities are realizing the importance of harnessing Big Data for the purposes of helping students to succeed, helping instructors to know what students still need to learn, analyzing efficiency in all areas, boosting enrollment, and more.

For example, CourseSmart embeds analytics directly into digital textbooks. These analytics provide an “engagement index score,” which measures how much students are interacting with their eTextbooks (viewing pages, highlighting, writing notes, etc.). Researchers have found that that the engagement index score helps instructors to accurately predict student outcomes more than traditional measurement methods, such as class participation.

In addition, there are dashboards that enable Big Data analytics and visualization for the purpose of monitoring higher education KPIs such as enrollment, accreditation, effectiveness, research, financial information, and metrics by class and by department. Read on to find out about the companies that are shaping Big Data analytics in higher education.

Companies and Apps in the Big Data and Higher Education space:

All descriptions are from companies’ websites.


CourseSmart Analytics is an innovative new solution that measures student engagement with digital course materials in order to provide administrators and faculty with actionable insights to help drive retention and outcomes. A centerpiece of CourseSmart Analytics is the CourseSmart Engagement Index™, a proprietary algorithm that evaluates student usage data points and assimilates them into an overall assessment of students’ engagement with digital material. Used in conjunction with other key indicators such as class participation, homework completion, and exam and other assessment results, CourseSmart Analytics can help improve student retention and outcomes, and ultimately, their success in your course or program.


LabStats is the easiest and most economical software solution for tracking computer usage in colleges and universities. Designed specifically for networked computer environments, LabStats provides a simple and customizable interface to manage every aspect of your computer labs. Save money, back up funding requests with real data and take control of your lab with LabStats. LabStats gathers usage information for every lab machine and stores it indefinitely in a high-efficiency database. LabStats lets lab managers view real-time usage charts in a web browser, rather than relying on lab assistants, manual headcounts and other homegrown solutions.

Civitas Learning

Our platform enables us to ingest data from learning management systems, student information systems, and other sources, then build school-specific predictive models that discover hidden connections and identify key decision points that affect student success. Our products deliver current, personalized, data-informed advice to the front lines of higher education. Students, faculty, advisors, and administrators interact with these clean, user-friendly apps, which distill deep analytical insights into straightforward, actionable guidance. By helping to improve a million small decisions across a college or university, we enable big improvements across the institution.


At the core of the Declara platform is The CognitiveGraph™, a dynamic map of how people learn based on years of research across hundreds of subjects. The CognitiveGraph™ takes every interaction an individual has over the network — be it access to a blog post, a connection to an expert, or a posting of “like” — to deliver the right content and the right learning partners to the right people at just the right time to radically improve learning outcomes. Using advanced algorithms and machine learning, the Declara CognitiveGraph™ learns as the user learns.


Knewton is an education technology company that personalizes digital courses so every student is engaged and no one slips through the cracks. As students progress through a Knewton-powered course, Knewton figures out what each student knows and how that student learns best, then recommends what to study next. Teachers use Knewton-powered predictive analytics to detect gaps in knowledge and differentiate instruction for each student.


ForecastPlus for Recruitment is a highly advanced predictive modeling tool for enrollment management. Powered by customized, multi-variable analyses, it uses your past enrollment data to predict your future enrollment results. Proven effective on more than 100 campuses, ForecastPlus reduces uncertainty and duplication from the admissions process.

Blackboard Analytics

Blackboard Analytics for Learn™ combines the extensive data from Blackboard Learn™ with student and course attributes from your SIS/ERP to create comprehensive reports and dashboards for your students, instructors, staff and leadership. With Blackboard Analytics for Learn, you have easy, self-service access to data that can help give you an enterprise-level perspective. Gain insight into user activity, course design and student grade and learning outcome data across departments and colleges, enabling you to improve your use of the Blackboard Learn platform in support of teaching, learning, and student success.

Desire2Learn Insights

Desire2Learn Insights™ offers a powerful suite of high-performance reports, rich data visualizations and predictive analytic capabilities that enable institutions to discover rich and meaningful insight about the integrity of their learning environment and deliver a perceptive, next generation experience. With the ability to harness the big data available in your learning environment, Insights’ dynamic, outcomes-based reports enable key stakeholders to establish, track, measure and assess achievement across course, program or institution-level. While your focus for improvement might be accreditation support, program design and delivery, or mentoring at-risk learners – whatever the need – Desire2Learn Insights expertly transforms your learning environment data into actionable insights that guide new opportunities for learner and institutional success.


A complex world demands skilled and knowledgeable citizens, yet educational institutions at every level struggle to graduate students who can meet these requirements. As costs rise and funding shrinks, educators and administrators need deeper insight into which approaches work and which do not. Analytics provides them with the tools to measure performance and ensure students acquire the skills to succeed.

PAR Framework by WCET

The Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework is a multi-institutional data mining collaborative that brings together 2 year, 4 year, public, proprietary, traditional, and progressive institutions to collaborate on identifying points of student loss and to find effective practices that improve student retention in U.S. higher education. With sixteen member institutions, over 1,700,000 anonymized student records and 8,100,000 institutionally de-identified course level records, the PAR Framework offers educational stakeholders a unique multi-institutional lens for examining dimensions of student success from both unified and contextual perspectives.


Graduate to the next level of performance – with best-in-class software to help your higher education or research institution run better. No matter the size of your organization, we can help boost your international ranking and reputation through superior research, improved student performance, and smarter financial management.


iDashboards Higher Education dashboard software is providing colleges and universities around the country better access to their data and greater insight into their key performance indicators (KPIs). Dashboards are being utilized to monitor Higher Education KPIs such as enrollment, accreditation, effectiveness, institutional research, financials and departmental metrics. Education Dashboards are customized for each institution taking into account their data sources and the goals of the institution.

McGraw-Hill Connect

The first and only analytics tool of its kind, Connect InsightTM is a series of visual data displays—each framed by an intuitive question—to provide at-a-glance information regarding how your class is doing. Initially Connect InsightTM will provide analysis on five key insights, available at a moment’s notice from your tablet device.


In the increasingly competitive market for online higher education, schools must cut through the noise to find and engage with qualified prospects. Higher education marketers must drive profitable new student acquisition through cost-effective investments in online advertising, including cost-per-lead and display advertising. Using eBureau’s advanced predictive analytics at the moment of initial inquiry, marketers can: Lower cost-per-start. Meet and surpass enrollment goals. Boost conversion rates and improve customer service. Understand which leads are likely to apply, enroll, and stay enrolled. After enrollment, eBureau’s big data and predictive analytics tools can help schools: Identify retention risk. Locate past students and alumni.

Tableau Software

Educational institutions have data everywhere: from student and donor data to classes, faculty and grants. Yale University, Cornell University, the University of Oxford and hundreds of other institutions use Tableau for their institutional research initiatives: Analyze student data: enrollment statistics, achievement, and demographics. Target areas of the country for alumni activities and development. Prepare Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and other reporting.

Jenzabar Analytics

Better data means better decisions. Jenzabar Analytics puts the power of actionable intelligence in your hands. Our robust solution offers a full range of options that can revolutionize the way that you manage operations and develop institutional strategy. Jenzabar Analytics provides configurable dashboards, alerts, reports, and analytics so you can gain the insight you need to succeed across your institution.


Enrollment Analytics for Colleges and Universities is an analytical platform for your institution to increase educational performance. With access to relevant data from multiple sources, your organization can make better decisions by tracking progress against key performance indicators (KPIs).The Higher Education Analytics tools enables your organization to analyze and identify higher performance factors on test scores, analyze and discover attendance patterns, insight on behavior patterns in relation to student performance, and gain a 360-degree view of teacher and student demographics. Colleges and Universities need to gain comprehensive and in-depth insight on enrolled students including experience, high school performance, academic programs, courses, locations, demographic insights, and external factors on enrollments.

Check Out These Resources for Insights on Big Data and Higher Education:

Leave a reply