“Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of a freeway.” – Geoffrey Moore

For some time now Blackboard offered to it’s Saas clients the free Blackboard Reporting Stack.  This included access to Snowflake data warehouse with analytics data covering Learning Management System (LMS) activity, Collaborate activity, and other academic systems.  The system was designed to address the needs of organizations considering the quality and effectiveness of their online educational experience.

The free reporting stack was helping to identify students who are at risk, understand how widely online tools and content are being used across the institution. A common question asked by instructional designers or program director may be: How can we manage this aspect of learning if the systems we are using to deliver it aren’t widely adopted?

Thus far, the Blackboard Reporting Stack focused on access to the pre-processed data and SQL reporting.  In turn, clients could use visualization tools to create end-user reports with Excel, Google Sheets, Pyramid, Power BI, or Tableau.  An automated, live connection to Snowflake was possible to enable online dashboards.

The new development in Blackboard Data is the Insider program, which grants access to developing User Interfaces (UI) for previously available Snowflake data.  This keeps the SQL access available for complex and customized reports based on individual organizational needs, while delivering visualizations for key activities through the Blackboard Data UI.

An important technique worth mentioning in the Blackboard Data Insider reporting is dual time line for setting baseline.  Most dashboards, which are built on SQL data provide a snapshot view.  How many courses are available now?  How many tools are the courses using?  How much time did students spend in courses?  How many interactions faculty made with courses while preparing for Fall 2020?

The Insider program asks for two windows of time, which allows the data to be viewed in a perspective.  Let’s compare Blackboard Collaborate activity in Summer 2019 and Summer 2020.  How does the activity compare in Spring 2019 and Spring 2020?  This helps to tell a story and keep visualizations meaningful.  Often, data points without any other reference provide an interesting graphic, but not much beyond that.

Here are a couple of examples (report 1, report 2) from the Insider program about Blackboard Collaborate:

Summer 2019 and Summer 2020:


Spring 2019 and Spring 2020:

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Learn more about Blackboard Developer Reporting Stack and the Data Insider Program:

Blog: Blackboard Data & Tableau