Small Project Scope, Big Rewards: Why Australian Catholic University Chose IntelliBoard
The size and complexity of the systems in which many e-learning environments exist can be daunting. On the one hand, there’s a huge need for learning analytics and reporting because there’s so much going on in the ecosystem that you need tools to help you wrap your head around everything. But, on the other hand, you’re worried about adding even more complexity to the system and throwing things out of whack. So how do you choose a learning analytics and reporting solution that’s right for you? And once you’ve landed on your answer, how do you roll it out within your organization so that busy faculty and staff can use it to its full capabilities?
David Salisbury, Francis Ramirez, and the e-learning Team at Australian Catholic University know this struggle well. So we were excited to hear their perspective on Australian Catholic University’s journey to selecting and rolling out IntelliBoard.
The Australian Catholic University (ACU) is a public university that serves over 35,000 students and is comprised of four faculties, which offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Founded in 1991 following the amalgamation of four Catholic tertiary institutions in eastern Australia, today ACU has eight campuses across Australia: Adelaide, Ballarat, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney (Blacktown, North Sydney, Strathfield) as well as a campus in Rome. ACU prides itself on embracing the Catholic intellectual tradition through embodying the core values of truth, academic excellence, and service. These core values guide ACU’s daily operations with a focus on equity, diversity, accessibility, well-being, and sustainability.
The ACU e-learning team were strategic from the very beginning of their journey to find the right learning analytics and reporting solution. They analyzed ACU’s unique challenges and knew they needed a right out of the box, easy to use teaching and learning focused tool that gave ACU faculty and staff the information they needed to make data- driven decisions without slowing down ACU’s servers.
ACU’s Search for The Right Analytics and Reporting Solution: Project Objectives
The e-learning team knew they wanted benefits in the following areas:
- Student success and retention
- Capability building and staff professional development
- Copyright and library resources
- Future learning and teaching projects
The e-learning team wanted to use learning analytics and reports to enhance what faculty and staff were already doing to achieve these benefits, explained Dr. Salisbury.
“We wanted to build capacity in our academic and professional staff on ways that [learning analytics and reports] can be used to support their efforts. In particular, for example, just even managing or monitoring copyright and library resources and other learning and teaching projects. So these were some of the benefits in the areas that we felt were critical for us.”
Dr. Salisbury emphasized the importance of providing professional development alongside the adoption of a new learning analytics and reporting solution.
“Now I can say as a lecturer, because I previously was a senior lecturer at a different university, that I really appreciated the potential of [professional development around IntelliBoard reports] because in my experience, I would’ve been very happy to have had this kind of information to help me support the students and their learning progress. So I was excited about this as soon as this was brought to my attention.”
The e-learning team knew they needed to keep ACU’s challenges around learning environment complexity and database size in mind and find a solution that provided the ability to make informed decisions from LMS usage data while ensuring that the solution’s reporting functions did not degrade core LMS functions. They were ready to make a strategic choice.
Why ACU Chose IntelliBoard
IntelliBoard looked like a great fit right from the start explained Dr. Salisbury:
“We, as an organization, were looking for an analytics program and had already looked at a few other options which were very expensive, also more complicated in terms of application and so on. So these were some of the challenges that we were facing. And when we were introduced to IntelliBoard, we were very excited about the prospect of a program that from the initial, or the overview, seemed to be what exactly we were after.”
IntelliBoard was affordable, easy to use, and explicitly addressed the objectives ACU had for a learning analytics and reporting solution continued Dr. Salisbury:
“There was privacy issues that were also part and parcel of what we needed to address. That’s one of the reasons we chose IntelliBoard, because that was resolved quite quickly. We had the ability to have small projects, but with big rewards. It fit into our security model and infrastructure, for example, the single sign on system et cetera. It also recognized our designations of teachers or lecturers or other personnel and their roles in our system. And we were able to use out of the box teaching focused reports, which was key to our pursuits and why IntelliBoard fit our pursuits exactly.”
IntelliBoard is also a teaching and learning focused solution which inspired confidence in the efficacy of the reports, explained Ramirez:
“One of the things that we communicated to our decision makers at ACU was that we will be using reports that are already out there in the wild, as in: other institutions have already used it, so we have a good degree of confidence that they’re suitable for a learning and teaching focused core business. Some of the other solutions tend to be generic reporting solutions; the reports [IntelliBoard] generates are very LMS and learning and teaching focused.”
Even though IntelliBoard was a great fit, Ramirez, Salisbury, and the e-learning team knew that given their challenges with the size and complexity of their learning environment, they needed a plan around how to roll out IntelliBoard and offer ongoing support during and after the solution’s implementation. Now that ACU had its solution, the e-learning team knew they needed a strategic plan to roll out IntelliBoard and offer ongoing support during and after the solution’s implementation to build ACU’s faculty and staff capacity to get the most out of their data.
For ACU to fully harness IntelliBoard’s capabilities, the e-learning team knew they had to center professional development and support. Ramirez shared the team’s philosophy:
“With our team, we don’t just install new technology. A lot of the considerations around implementation, configuration, and planning for the project are very heavily influenced and informed by the program of work that we then need to engage with after the system has been installed. So implementing IntelliBoard is not the end goal. It’s the start of the work that we then need to engage in after that. And that’s why it’s actually taken quite a long time to do proper planning about this, and how we deployed IntelliBoard on our learning management system has a staged approach because of the impacts on the program of work after and how we support the systems for our teaching staff.”
The e-learning team developed an action plan for the initial implementation phase that addressed installation, planning, configuration, testing, and communications.
Partnering with IntelliBoard for Installation and Testing
The first step was installing the IntelliBoard and doing some application testing that paid particular attention to information privacy and security concerns, load and stress testing, and assessing IntelliBoard’s impact on production servers. Ramirez appreciated the support he received from the IntelliBoard team throughout the process:
“With IntelliBoard, we undertook a lot of application testing. […] I think from the very beginning. I’d need to acknowledge Natalia [Dovhan, IntelliBoard Support Specialist & Lead Technician] and Pierre [Daguzan, IntelliBoard Regional Sales Manager, APAC] for all the assistance they’ve given us, the amount of support and advice they’ve extended to us during this testing phase so that we could actually learn what IntelliBoard is capable of.”
As the testing phase progressed, Ramirez was enthusiastic about how quickly IntelliBoard reports ran despite the vast amount of data on ACU’s Moodle server.
“Now, again, if you could remember, we had about 15 terabytes worth of data on our database, and we wanted to make sure that if IntelliBoard was going to run on our Moodle server, that if someone generated big reports, it shouldn’t shut down our [LMS]. I’m happy to report that when we did load and stress testing with the database administrators on hand, I ran site-wide reports using IntelliBoard, and the database admin for our Moodle server said, “Didn’t even notice.” Our Moodle [database] didn’t even notice that it was running. It was that quick. So it was quite impressive.”
Stakeholder Governance: ACU’s IntelliBoard Working Group
While addressing the technical aspects of the initial project rollout, the e-learning team formed the IntelliBoard Working Group, comprised of stakeholders from across ACU who got early access to IntelliBoard’s reports and capabilities to provide feedback. Dr. Salisbury elaborated:
“In order to facilitate [bringing on IntelliBoard], we actually organized and put together a working group that … had members from all of the faculties in various areas of the organization of the University. That gave us … a governing body that allowed us to, first of all, get them to help us test the platform and also give us feedback and inform us about some of the needs from the various sectors, which was very helpful. And particularly choosing various reports that we ended up staging over the last two semesters.”
The IntelliBoard Working Group helped the e-learning team choose the best method for deploying the reports, said Dr. Salisbury.
“One of the things that the working group actually confirmed was in many ways our suggestion of not releasing all the reports initially, but to selectively release [these] in a progressive manner. So that’s what we’ve done. The first semester we released four … that we felt were targeting specific learning and teaching areas, and the second semester we released an additional three reports, and next semester we’ll release yet some more.”
The collaboration with the IntelliBoard Working Group helped the e-learning team create a sustainable rollout that met key stakeholders’ needs and enabled them to offer the right support and training along the way.
The e-learning team alongside the IntelliBoard Working Group developed report deployment criteria based on report speed and performance, usefulness to teaching staff, and whether the report required grades or completion in units. Prioritizing reports that processed quickly was part of the strategy so instructors felt their time was being respected, said Dr. Salisbury.
The e-learning team recognized that to fully harness the power of a tool, especially in a context as complex as ACU’s, you need to build a consistent program of support around that tool. After IntelliBoard’s initial implementation, the e-learning team developed an ongoing program focusing on governance, support, incident management, staff training, and communications.
Customer Experience with IntelliBoard
In everything from pre-sales to procurement, to implementation and technical advice, to onboarding and ongoing support, the e-learning Team speak highly of their partnership with IntelliBoard.
Ramirez found the initial pre sale experience confidence-inspiring:
“We’re really very happy with the customer experience with IntelliBoard, from pre sales to procurement. I tip my hat to Pierre [Daguzan, IntelliBoard Regional Sales Manager, APAC]and Natalia [Dovhan, IntelliBoard Support Specialist & Lead Technician] from a technical perspective, and even Tonya [Riney, Ph.D., IntelliBoard COO] as well during the contracting side. They were really, really excellent. One of the things that gave us a lot of confidence when it came to IntelliBoard was how responsive the team was to us, and it kind of predicted future success. If they’re this good to us before we even sign on the dotted line, that means they’ve got capacity to support us.”
While the e-learning team appreciated the in-person help from the IntelliBoard team, Dr. Salisbury noted that they also found the resources provided within the IntelliBoard system itself to be very useful.
“We’ve accessed a lot of the resources that IntelliBoard has provided. All I have to say is that it’s very thorough, it’s very to the point. Anytime we have a question we can always access a resource to help us out. So even without direct assistance, I think IntelliBoard is very good about supporting their customers. So I’m extremely happy.”
The e-learning team plans to continue to build staff capacity to fully harness the power of the data in ACU’s LMS by continuing their strategic progressive rollout of reports and IntelliBoard’s team will be there supporting them every step of the way.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Francis and David. We loved learning about your thoughtful deployment of IntelliBoard and look forward to partnering with you as the rollout and ongoing programmatic support continue.
Are you interested in a teaching and learning focused, right out the box learning analytics reporting solution for EVERYONE? Schedule a meeting with us or take advantage of our webinars. We’d love to help you harness the power of your data.