Page 8 - Campus Technology, June 2017
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The middleware team is promoting widespread Splunk adoption by providing a portal for access to shared
tools and apps faculty can use directly or easily adapt to  make huge volumes of data meaningful to our decision makers at every level,” says Patrick Casey, the manager of middleware services at the university.
With its real-time querying, data aggregation on the fly, and ability to “ingest” data once and use it in multiple ways, Splunk is breaking outside
the boundaries of IT. Now it’s helping address the data analytics needs of other departments within academic institutions.
At the University of Nevada Las Vegas, for example, Splunk was initially applied to help IT run its networks more efficiently. One day, Matt Bernacki, an educational psychology professor, approached
IT with a request for access to data to research student learning. That’s when he was introduced to the Splunk platform, which helped him gain insights culled from data maintained by the university’s Learning Management System.
Armed with that information, Bernacki built an
algorithm to help predict students’ expected grades in required courses before they took the first exam. He based this on learning behaviors during early weeks of the semester. Those predictions have helped faculty and advisors intervene with students expected to get a C grade or lower. Now, one-third
of those students instead earned an A or B grade. “Being able to build my own data sets on the fly has been really beneficial,” says Bernacki. “The Splunk platform increases my confidence in the quality of my data and the speed with which I can produce results.”
And that’s not the only application for Splunk
at UNLV, says Cam Johnson, associate director of the IT operations center. “The great thing about Splunk Enterprise is it goes beyond solving typical IT problems. We can look at demographic, grade or enrollment data as opportunities to help the university toward its mission.”
Revealing insights from data has always posed
a problem because it involved setting up a data warehouse, using metrics, and determining data schemas in advance. With the way Splunk handles machine data, this need no longer exists. You can
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run that data through Splunk and ask questions on the fly without a lot of pre-planning, and use the same data to optimize your campus operations and student experience in ways that were previously impossible. Better yet, Splunk may already be in use on your campus by the IT organization. If so, there’s no need to buy and learn something new. And the expertise is already there.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) starts to flourish on campus, leading schools are trying to sort out how IoT data can help deliver services with impact, improve campus security, drive efficiencies and rein in costs—even as they continue focusing on new initiatives for promoting student success.
The greatest impact may come when those new data sources are blended with existing data to expose patterns and answers nobody could have predicted. With the right technology platform, questions your intelligent institution asks this morning may provide the answers you need this afternoon.
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