Successful Data Management in Higher Education Institutions

Successful Data Management in Higher Education Institutions

Published On June 14, 2016 -   by

Advanced education, for both undergraduate and graduate level, continues to be a data driven enterprise with applications in all fields of study. The more obvious sectors of data are practiced with regularity, such as for keeping student records, student payments, professor and staff schedules, library records, and other standard electronic organizational methods. However, universities are establishing that data management can be integrated into every area of study as a preparation tool for students in their future careers. Data management, curation, and literacy are now fundamental aspects of rigorous educational development throughout America, successfully integrated throughout both college and graduate levels.

Successful University Level Applications for Data Management Concepts

Interestingly, some of the very unique applications for data management, within the confines of undergraduate and graduate courses, include very specific segments of data related study. Data Visualization and Representation, Data Quality and Documentation, Meta Data and Data Description, Data Conversion and Interoperability, Cultures of Practice within Data, and Data Preservation are just a few of the facets of study that students are encouraged to focus upon to the benefit of their specific post-graduate careers.

The concept behind offering such specific data related courses is to emphasize the importance of managing, sharing, and reusing data, in addition to familiarizing students with techniques and tools they will use in potential jobs. The International Journal of Digital Curation released a data development model in 2013 indicating different Disciplinary Focuses with implications as to what type of data expertise was needed, such as Natural Resources majors at the esteemed Cornell University having comprehension of “Data Sharing Databases and Stewardship.” Additionally, Indiana’s Purdue University Agricultural and Biological Engineering majors must be adept at “Standard Metadata Operating Procedures.”

Cornell University, a pioneer in data focused education, takes a formalized approach towards data management across several research related, mathematical, and biological courses of study. The university believes that data curation and management is of great utility to lab work and future career applications, and pushes students to hone these most necessary of skills, otherwise the data set does not essentially exist. Many universities, including the aforementioned Cornell and Purdue, are offering workshops and basic courses in “Managing Data to Facilitate Your Research” that introduce students to relational databases and metadata themes. Possessing a proficiency in data management is only the beginning, as having the ability to apply these ideas to active procedures is vital in order to be a functioning engineer, biochemist, agriculturist, etcetera. Students must be able to fully understand and apply data management concepts, like identifying and tracking data quality issues, transferring their data findings to the custody of a working lab or research department, and employing means to maintain the integrity of the data over the course of time.

Colleges, universities, and graduate programs are widening their approach to extend data studies in broader areas of learning that extend beyond purely scientific focuses. Entertainment industry, creative departments such as Literature and Art have foundations in research as well, and utilize forms of data management or analysis in a variety of areas. Literature, the most language based of all studies, works from data accumulated from texts, journals, and libraries (both digital and tactile). Those that major in Literature must be comfortable working from large quantities of hard copy and electronic information, converting to more workable formats when needed, and forming original opinions based upon the analysis of all data. As many Literature majors go into publishing or media careers, obtaining data management skills early on during college or graduate level years can be of the utmost aid. Similarly, art based majors such as Painting Restoration, Art History, or Museum Curation are disciplines of study that are rooted within the concept of data. Practical, working skill set of art related data is beneficial for those looking to move on to careers in the art world. Without exception, data management is a common theme across all departments in major universities, community colleges, graduate universities, and trade schools.

Institutional Standardization of Data Management for Higher Education

Aside from adopting educational courses and practices for students and faculty, data management is an ongoing issue for higher education institutions. Navigating the fluctuations of data can be challenging as lack of administrative initiative, trained staff, and data quality are consistently problematic. Areas like Human Resources, Finance, and Student Administration Systems are shown to be the subject of most concern for data quality in larger institutions. Modern systems must be able to handle real-time data situations such as bill payment and student enrollment in correct courses, as well as aggregate information gathered by data programs for further management and planning. In 2005, the National Science Foundation observed that “digital data collections are at the heart of fundamentally new approaches to research and education.” It is no surprise that research oriented universities tends to offer more advanced means of dealing with data, including complex IT infrastructures for data storage, data management, and data analytics.

For successful data management, educational institutions require maximum academic and business value from institutional data utilization, particularly given the growth of volumes of data usage in universities in subsequent years. Yet a vital aspect of data management extends to data security, especially given the sheer amount of personal information contained within data stores in educational institutions. Special treatment towards student and faculty records is of paramount importance as social security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, addresses, birth dates, and more are held within administrative files on electronic data storage systems. An enterprising approach towards security is necessary, which is why many universities now employ full time data librarians, and restrictive access protocols for large scale data administration. Advocating expertise in regards to data management throughout a campus can make a significant difference for maintaining the safety of students, information, and institutional related business endeavors.

Data Management as a Fundamental Tool for Advanced Education

Both administratively and academically, data management has become a fundamental course of action for the continued application of information organization, analysis, and expertise. During these progressive years of technological based data methodology, educational institutions, including their faculty members, staff, and student bodies, must have active working comprehension of all data related themes. Instilling the importance and value of a data based skill set is the responsibility of all educational institutes in order to continue to produce knowledgeable graduates.

– DataEntryOutsourced

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