Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Launching the Action Analytics Community of Practice

Donald M. Norris

I’m on my way the Second National Symposium on Action Analytics, hosted in St. Paul Minnesota. This Symposium is part of a coordinated effort to support a national agenda on action analytics, undertaken by the Action Analytics in Education Partnership (AAEP). It has been my honor to have been involved with the AAEP from its conception in brainstorming sessions more that a year ago with Dr. Linda Baer, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and Dr. Michael Offerman, currently Interim President of Capella University.

The Action Analytics in Education Partnership (AAEP) includes the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, a the nation’s fifth largest system of two-year colleges and state universities; Capella University, a 17-year-old proprietary university; The Shank Institute for Innovative Learning, a nonprofit think tank focusing on future technology and learning organization; and Strategic Initiatives, Inc., a for-profit developmental consulting firm that is known for its ground-breaking work in leveraging technology to transform practices and outcomes in higher education. Other partners are being sought to provide other perspectives.

The Partnership’s mission is to capture, share and implement best practices in analytics and predictive modeling and to encourage the breadth and depth of use of action analytics across higher education institutions as a tool to ultimately improve institutional performance and student success in postsecondary education within the context of financial sustainability at the institutional, state, and federal levels.

Intermediate success will be achieved when we have a viable Action Analytics Community of Practice with 1) well-defined issue domain, 2) vibrant community and subcommunities, an 3) clearly articulated practice principles and tools that attract a critical mass of practitioners, thought leaders, and policy makers and have achieved financial sustainability for the community. Longer-term success will be achieved as we influence the effective practice of action analytics and support the development of the capacities of individuals, institutions, policy makers, foundations, accreditors, and educational agencies to measure qand improve performance and reimagine learning to meet the needs of the post-Recession global economy.

AAEP has launched and seeks to sustain a national agenda on the use of action analytics and predictive modeling to improve performance of the postsecondary education system and support the successful completion of postsecondary degrees by U.S. students. The predictive modeling emphasis will support better data decision making among students and faculty. While data are important, the expanded capacity to determine best interventions for students given the data is the critical element in making a significant difference in student success. The goals of the initiative include: establishing a repository of best practices in improving student readiness, retention, and success and achieving financial sustainability; instituting a dynamic observatory of new competencies and skills needed to be proficient and effective professional in advancing student success through analytics; establishing a community of practice (CoP) among analytic practitioners and policy makers; and hosting the second and third annual National Action Analytics Symposium.

The First National Symposium identified a range of desired actions, including securing sustaining funding, launching the community of practice, and articulating a National Agenda. These have all been accomplished. The AAEP has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and we are launching the Action Analytics Community of Practice tomorrow at the National Symposium. The National Agenda is posted on the Public Forum for Action Analytics, a public community that serves as the “front porch” for ideas and materials developed by the Community of Practice.

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