Business Intelligence: The Key to Understanding the Virtual Participant and Improving the Learning Experience

Business Intelligence
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By Jorge Vela, Project Manager, Open LMS Professional Services

A new era is dawning: one in which Business Intelligence (BI) is of paramount importance to eLearning. BI and a BI mindset can empower organizations with invaluable operational insights while granting the foresight to shape the future direction of the business. This relationship between BI and eLearning, specifically the utilization of data and analytics to enhance and improve the learning experience, will be essential for any organization that aspires to thrive in this ever-evolving landscape. Read on to learn more.

What is BI?

First, let us define what we mean by Business Intelligence. BI refers to the use of technologies, processes, and practices to transform raw data, captured from the interactions of all the different actors with the system, into actionable insights that provide key information for data-driven decision-making and strategic planning.

A clear definition from American author John F. Naisbitt, who in 1982 coined the term Business Intelligence in his book Megatrends, is “the ability to anticipate, comprehend and act on the strengths and weaknesses of your enterprise, the opportunities and threats of your environment, and the interests and needs of your stakeholders.”

BI is more than the implementation of modern technology, as this quote highlights. BI includes the ability to comprehend the system as a whole unit, in which the role of the technology enables organizations to successfully collect and analyze data, understand the organizational strengths and weaknesses, and act on opportunities and threats in the external environment. Along with BI comes a BI mindset for both corporate and educational organizations that can gain competitive advantage and drive business success.

A “BI mindset” is so powerful that organizations can gain valuable insights into their operations and use such information to anticipate and shape the future direction of their business.

Unlock the power of a ‘BI Mindset’ in a rapidly changing environment

If a comprehensive approach to innovation and continuous improvement is considered critical for organizations seeking to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment, then a BI mindset should be considered a central and foundational concept in understanding their customers and it must be used transversally to guarantee business success.

Imagine an eLearning company that offers online courses to students. The company is looking to improve student engagement and retention rates. Hence, they decide to use a BI mindset to gather and analyze data on student behavior and learning outcomes. The company might decide to gather said data from a variety of sources, such as student survey responses, course completion rates, and online activity data and use this data to identify patterns and trends in student behavior and learning outcomes.

With this information, the company could then develop and implement initiatives to improve student engagement and retention. For example, they might use the data to design more interactive and personalized course content, or to offer additional support resources for struggling students.

Maximize the effectiveness of the learner’s journey with data and analytics

BI and eLearning are highly connected in several ways, one of the main ones being the use of data and analytics to understand and improve the learning experience.

To Peter Drucker, a famous Austrian-American author, and father of modern management, it is attributed the quote “the best way to predict the future is to create it through the use of data and information.” It highlighs the importance of using data and information to make informed decisions and drive innovation in organizations.

The learner’s journey—or the process of learning and development that an individual goes through throughout their lifetime—may involve formal education as well as informal learning (such as self-directed learning or learning through experience).

For an organization that offers educational services as part of its core business, or as a highly sought-after add-on to professional development, that journey begins by engaging the learner in the learning experience, providing insight into the opportunity and the benefits that will follow once they’ve finished updating their skills and competencies. It begins to become data-noticeable during the enrollment process and gains momentum throughout the learning process when interactions with the Learning Management System (LMS) convey information about preferences, behaviors, and needs. It goes even further when learning achievement awards are given by the system to different participants and they begin to share them during the promotion process.

By understanding the learner journey, educators and organizations can better design and deliver learning experiences that meet the needs and goals of learners.

Elevate your eLearning experience with data and analytics and unlock the path to continuous improvement

In the context of eLearning, BI can be used to analyze data on learners’ preferences, behaviors, and needs. Learning experiences can then be optimized by collecting data on factors such as engagement, retention, and satisfaction, allowing for the identification of  areas for improvement and learning process change.

Major LMS platforms include built-in analytics and reporting tools that enable organizations to track learner progress and engagement, as well as identify trends and patterns in eLearning data.

This is where and when a BI mindset becomes critical in organizations. By using this methodology, organizations can gain insight into the effectiveness of their eLearning programs and drive continuous improvement.

Overall, BI and eLearning are connected by data and analytics to understand and improve the learning experience and use LMS to deliver eLearning content. By adopting a BI mindset, organizations can gain valuable insights into their eLearning programs and drive continuous improvement.

BI helps eLearning by providing valuable insights in an organic and non-intrusive way. As Bill Gates said in 1996, “The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” (Gates, 1996)

A ‘BI Mindset’ to analyze and understand the massive shift to virtual education

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the number of participants and levels of engagement in eLearning. 

With the pandemic requiring almost 100% of people to stay at home, the use of virtual platforms for education and training has skyrocketed.

Overall, the pandemic led to a significant increase in the number of participants and levels of engagement in eLearning, with many people and organizations turning to virtual platforms for education and training. Experts expect this trend to continue in the coming years as the use of technology in education becomes increasingly widespread.

This rapid shift to virtual education has highlighted the need for organizations to implement BI and a BI mindset to effectively analyze the massive amount of structured and especially unstructured information and understand the needs and preferences of their learners.

How BI unlocks the full potential of eLearning and enhances the learner experience

In addition to the direct impact on students and their learning experience, in this eLearning process, several other players can benefit from BI. These include the facilitator, academic secretary, decision-maker, and platform administrator. Each of them can use the information to improve and refocus instructional design, be open to testing new functionality, drive their decisions based on accurate data, and anticipate future requests.

Business Intelligence — Actors of the educational ecosystem in the Learner’s Journey
Actors of the educational ecosystem in the Learner’s Journey

Several tools can be used in an LMS environment to benefit from BI, including reports and analytics. These tools can help organizations track user behavior, monitor activity, and identify trends and patterns in eLearning data.

Implementing BI in an organization requires a structured approach. For a commercial organization, this might involve defining key performance indicators, establishing data collection points, and implementing dashboards and reporting tools to track progress. For a learning organization, the focus may be on gathering data on student performance, engagement, and satisfaction to drive improvements in the learning experience. In both cases, it’s important to ensure that the flow of information is organized, and that data is collected and analyzed consistently and reliably.

BI can help improve the learner experience by providing the right elements to keep the learner engaged in learning and insightful information for innovation. Organizations may understand what works and what does not in terms of engagement and learning outcomes and this information can then be used to tailor the learning experience to the specific needs and interests of learners, helping to keep them engaged and motivated.

To sum up

Let us consider a quote from Sir Ken Robinson, who said: “The future of education isn’t about filling students with facts but helping them to learn how to think for themselves and to understand the world around them. To do this, we must understand the unique needs and interests of each student and design learning experiences that are tailored to their individual needs.”.

BI can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of different learning strategies and approaches, allowing organizations to identify areas for improvement and innovate to enhance the learner experience. BI can help organizations understand which learning materials or activities are most effective at promoting retention and understanding, and which may be less effective and could be revised or replaced.

About the author

Jorge Vela is a Project Manager for Open LMS. Jorge is a seasoned systems/solutions engineer with over two decades of experience in information technology, educational technology (eLearning), and corporate engagement. Fluent in English and Spanish, Jorge excels at finding innovative technology solutions, leading high-performance teams, and effectively translating requirements into action plans for successful execution.

One Response

  1. It las a really interesting articule, with a Lot of resources. I understand BI Is mandatory if we are going to do e-learning.

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