An update on Analytics Labs, its benefits and how to get involved

There have been some recent exciting developments around Data and Analytics at Jisc including the integration of HESA’s data and analytics team into Jisc – further information here – Combined data analytics expertise to benefit higher education sector – 17 September 2019.

In light of these developments and the opening up of new opportunities for getting involved in Analytics Labs we thought it would be useful to provide an update on what it is and how to get involved…

As of October 2019 we have worked with 375 participants from 107 Higher Education Providers. They’ve formed 52 teams and been mentored by our experts as they explored a broad range of themes and data specific to the immediate needs and concerns of their own and other universities. To help ensure relevance and timeliness of topics we’ve worked with a wide range of stakeholder organisations.

How would your university benefit if you were able to:

  • Improve staff skills in the area of data and analytics
  • Access a wide range of quality controlled national data presented for higher educational purposes
  • Gain experience in using relevant cutting-edge software tools and techniques
  • Extend your professional networks through collaborative working with peers from around the UK
  • Instantly access, analyse and review comparative data collated from over 60 sources (including the DfE, GOV.UK, ONS, Data.ac.uk)
  • Meet current and future challenges using data to aid scenario planning and risk analysis
  • Access relevant pre-modelled scenarios covering topics such as student recruitment and retention, staffing, research, Brexit, league tables and estates management

What could it mean for your own career development?

What is Analytics Labs?

Analytics Labs is a unique continuing professional development (CPD) experience available to data-savvy staff in education. Working in an exciting research environment participants work together to develop proof of concept data-derived dashboards and data visualisations. We focus on themes that are of current or emerging interest to the sector.

What we’re looking for – experience

We are looking for strong data analysts (with experience in Tableau and/or Alteryx or related products) to join our agile analysis teams and develop proof of concept outputs for potential redevelopment and release to a wider audience. In return participants are supported to develop their existing skills.

We are also looking for team leaders/product owners. These will be heads, assistant heads or similarly senior roles who will be responsible for guiding their team in the creation of outputs for demonstration by the team at a ‘showcase’ event at the end of the cycle.

Team roles and commitment

Team analyst – The effort required is just one day per week for twelve weeks (plus a day either end of the cycle for start-up and ‘showcase’ events). Most of the time will be spent working remotely with team members from across the sector. You will also meet face to face with your team on a monthly basis. For that level of commitment, you’ll get a fantastic professional development experience as we create new proof of concept dashboards and data visualisations through:

  • Accessing a wider range of datasets than is currently possible, for safe experimentation purposes
  • Identifying currently unknown trends and insights to provide an evidence base for sound business decisions
  • Innovating through collaborative working, for example across institutional functions.

Product Owner – Helps Jisc shape the focus of the exploration and supporting data. Brings significant knowledge of both subject and data. Represents the end users by providing regular feedback during the development phase. Helps prioritise tasks. Ultimately steering their team towards creating widely applicable outputs for demonstration at the end of cohort showcase event. Again, this role provides the opportunity to gain/enhance professional development experience in a number of areas, including providing leadership in a largely remote working environment. We anticipate the effort to average out at around 8 days for an entire twelve-week development cycle (this includes 5 days of face to face activity – start-up, showcase plus 3 team meetings).

On successful completion of Analytics Labs, we’ll ask you to take part in a ‘showcase’ event to demonstrate the outputs to peers and receive feedback.

You will also be given the opportunity throughout your Analytics Labs experience to record your continuing professional development in the following 5 competencies, and receive a digital badge as a result:

  • Participating in agile development
  • Visualising data
  • Transforming data
  • Digital collaboration
  • Understanding policy and the data landscape

Once you have completed Analytics Labs you are invited you to join our analytics labs alumni forum. As a forum member you’ll receive unique offers, see early previews of new service content and have an opportunity to influence it.

Related costs

There is no charge to take part, however participants are expected to cover their own travel and subsistence costs when attending face to face project meetings. Further details on Analytics Labs and the benefits of getting involved can be found on the Jisc Analytics Labs web page.

What happens to the outputs of Analytics Labs activity?

All outputs are demonstrated to peers and representatives of the wider community at a ‘showcase’ event. Jisc looks to the most promising analytics labs outputs for inspiration as we develop new products and services for the benefit of the wider education sector.

Previous Analytics Labs participants have delivered insights into a range of areas including Research (REF, Spinouts, Funding and Reproducibility), HE finance and the impact of Brexit, league tables, postgraduate teaching and tracking the student journey and we’re always looking to build on and develop some areas and explore others.

What do people say about the experience?

Catherine O’Donnell, Research and Impact Manager for Widening Access and Participation at Ulster University commented, “my experience of analytics labs in three words… transformational, inspirational and motivational… I would strongly recommend this programme to others”. 

How do I apply?

Application is open to Jisc Higher Education members only. We open applications a small number of times a year and places are strictly limited. We announce availability using this blog, social media – #analyticslabs, Jiscmail and relevant mailing lists and member organisations. We also welcome expressions of interest outside of this time.

Further details on Analytics Labs and the benefits of getting involved can be found on the Jisc Analytics Labs web page.

Please email us if you have any queries/would like to hear more about how to apply.

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