Guiding SJSU toward a Data-Driven Future

A shadow-and-light pattern created by the Student Union's exterior facade

UPDATE (September 2022): The Campus Data Warehouse initiative continues to drive SJSU data adoption with some pilot departments already using our unified data lake platform. One such program combines university data with national data to create learning analytics that to identify students at risk of dropping out or falling behind and not completing their degree. Campus departments can use that data to provide identified students with additional support and resources to improve their academic outcomes and keep them on track for a degree.

In partnership with Institutional Effectiveness and Student Analytics (IESA), SJSU IT is developing a campus-wide data platform hosted on the Google Cloud that is effective, efficient, intuitive, and user-friendly. This new Campus Data Warehouse will be a single source of truth for San Jose State University, creating a foundation for analytics and data-driven decision making. 

For the past few years, SJSU IT has been working toward a more data-driven culture. Using data to inform our decisions allows us to eliminate bias and better evaluate the way things “have always been done.” SJSU IT uses data to inform our decisions and we partner with other departments to help analyze and understand their data. But there’s always been a problem: San Jose State University hasn’t had a unified data strategy. That changes this year.

The new Campus Data Warehouse will transform how departments on campus use data. As a single source of truth, this will be that platform which everything else pulls data. Instead of having three or four databases maintained by different departments for different uses, there will be one database operated through university partnerships. This will open up entirely new opportunities for integration between systems. We’re developing data governance structures with campus partners to set definitions for parameters, decide who has access to what data, and guide the ethics and privacy discussion. 

Aside from addressing the problems around today’s data silos, the Campus Data Warehouse will move SJSU into future technologies. Having a unified platform for the entire university enables us to use AI and Machine Learning to develop predictive analytics models. By removing barriers that make data hard to access and hard to use, we empower departments to improve outcomes for students, faculty, and staff. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, reducing bias and increasing equity are primary benefits of a shift toward leveraging data. Using data to inform our decisions circumvents whatever predetermined notions we may have as individuals, whether they were formed by habit, institutional practices, or our upbringing. As the most transformative university in the country, it’s our responsibility to provide the opportunities of higher education to every student equally. We can do that better with data. 

Best regards,
Bob Lim