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

Google Cloud Platform Workshop

In a first among the CSU system, Google partnered with the SJSU IT Division to host a workshop on some cutting-edge cloud technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Decision Learning, and Data Engineering. Close to 500 Spartans (including students, faculty, researchers, and staff) signed up to attend the January 8-11 event in Clark Hall, though we could only fit 50 into a packed room. The workshop brought one of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants to campus and augmented academic knowledge with hands-on opportunities from a field expert, delivering on IT’s promise to bring enterprise-grade academic technology advancement to SJSU.

In a follow-up survey, 100% of respondents rated the workshop as Very Good or Excellent and 100% said they would attend a future workshop hosted by IT.  “The content of the workshop is very informational and advanced in the cloud platform field. The hands-on labs are interactive exercises those make me understand the concepts well and be involved in the learning process,” said one.

When asked valuable the session was in supplementing academic knowledge, 90% of the responders rated the workshop Very Good or Excellent. SJSU IT looks to roll this success forward into future events. Participants in the workshop expressed interest in a number of other topics for possible future workshops, with Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain leading the way followed by Cybersecurity and Virtual Machines.

Google’s instructor remarked that the attendees at SJSU were some of the quickest, most engaged he’s worked with. The feeling was mutual, with one attendee stating, “The instructor was very knowledgeable with what he teaches and gives very good presentations. He was very helpful with the labs.”

While many of participants were SJSU students, there were plenty of researchers, faculty, and staff, all gaining practice and experience with enterprise-level tools to carry into the classroom or implement within the university’s IT and research infrastructures. “Overall the topics covered on GCP was exceptional. SJSU is currently exploring the implementation of cloud-based BI and Predictive analytics strategy. The timing of these workshops is just perfect and they allow the technical team to perform comparisons and benchmark for the ideal solution that is beneficial to SJSU,” said Ravi Pisupati, a Senior Analyst & Project Manager with SJSU.

Thank you to everybody involved in making this event a success. It certainly didn’t go unnoticed, as one attendee commented, “The room had a speedy WIFI connection and wonderful setup screens. Thanks for organizing everything so well for us. Their effort and hard work made the intensive experience much easier.” I could agree more and want to specifically thank Joseph Chou and Willie Simon for their work on this event.

Best Regards,
Bob Lim