Using Data to Measure Impact in the Age of Virtual Learning

By Guest Author | April 15, 2020 | , | Education, Higher Education, Student Experience

Leading Through Change


By: Nancy Doherty, Director of Salesforce Platform at Babson College

Babson College logoDuring this time of unprecedented crisis, institutions are being challenged to rapidly pivot their student success strategies within the context of a virtual environment. Whether it’s moving classes online, doubling down on student well-being, or adjusting degree plans to ensure on-time graduation, everyone is adapting to this new ‘normal.’ With this accelerated change, we wanted to share how we at Babson College are making sharp adjustments to ensure students, faculty, and staff stay connected, safe, and supported during this time of change.

Leveraging Data to Meet Student & Faculty Needs

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to guarantee that the online experience for faculty, students, and staff was flexible enough to uniquely meet the dynamic needs of each group. Seeing activity trends, such as adoption and usage, was critical in order to act quickly and implement support services at scale. To measure impact, we needed a way to gauge the success of our shift to online classes in a consistent manner and ensure that any faculty and student challenges were resolved swiftly and in a personal nature.

To solve this, we assembled a cross-functional team, including employees from our academic innovation technology team, media services group, and our IT support center. This approach enabled us to determine the best way to bring together our various data points and present them to leadership in a simple, consistent way. We began the process by outlining the steps needed to unify what was a disjointed metric collection process and show the data in a single view for our executive leadership team.

Babson College is located in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

A 360-Degree Approach

To gain a clearer understanding of crisis trends students and faculty were facing, we pulled in recent student survey data and matched it instantly with current open support tickets to identify the most common questions and concerns. We also connected data from our learning management system (LMS) and web conferencing platform to view classroom metrics and measure engagement. Using this cohesive data, we quickly designed dashboards that effectively measured performance in a single view. We are now consistently tracking metrics such as seven day satisfaction trends, web platform usage, LMS usage, and help desk incidents by category.

Classroom Metrics Dashboard

Most notably, we were able to stand up track metrics and implement the necessary dashboards in only a few short days. Within 48 hours, our teams, in collaboration with other key stakeholders across Babson, jumped in to support the initiative with an “all hands on deck” approach. We began with a short brainstorming session, outlined next steps, then assigned each group a component to build out. We reconvened a few hours later and already had most of the data in place and ready to test. The following day we tested, updated necessary links, and went live at 4:30 p.m.!

The Foundation for Long-term Success

We were able to leverage our deeply-rooted entrepreneurial spirit and provide our leadership team with this comprehensive dashboard in Salesforce. Our ability to present these metrics and feedback in a way that surfaces common themes provides administration with a clear vision on how best to approach next steps. Understanding the ‘pulse’ of Babson’s ecosystem will assist us in ensuring our community’s experiences from here forward are the best we can provide in light of what the world is faced with right now.

It is during times like these, under immense pressure, that so many institutions find themselves thrust into innovation. By staying focused on goals, understanding the challenges of various stakeholders, and measuring progress with a clear intent for improvement, you can set a strong foundation for the future. It is this foundation that will allow you the ability to be agile while also measuring progress, to ensure students, faculty, and staff feel supported during challenging times.

Learn more about the resources available to higher education institutions during this time of crisis.

About the Author

Nancy Doherty

Nancy Doherty, Director – Salesforce Platform, Babson College

Nancy has been a part of the Babson community for 10 years, leading the implementation, management, and end-user adoption of Salesforce for Babson College. In her work, Nancy is constantly looking for opportunities to coalesce data to make people and processes more efficient. Her vision for the Salesforce platform includes a long range plan that leverages cloud assets as a single virtual system. She welcomes ongoing collaboration and views all projects through the greater institutional lens, ensuring that the work is forward thinking, inclusive, and supports Babson’s long term strategy.