Home Business IT Technology Brisbane school takes Microsoft's DIY BI route
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A large part of Microsoft's business intelligence (BI) strategy is about putting BI into the hands of end-users by making it part of the platform - notably in SQL Server 2008 R2.


A prime example of this can be found at Brisbane's John Paul College. The school's BI manager, Scott Carpenter, said a wide range of data had been captured from various sources and while it was already useful, it could be put to even better use. One example involved the desire to spot differences in classroom methods that led to different (hopefully better) student performance.

The data collected includes individual subject results (across multiple criteria), external testing results (eg, learning style analysiss, NAPLAN scores), behavioural information (as recorded by teachers, plus any 'escalations' that were deemed appropriate), involvement in co-curricular and external activities, notes made by the counselling department, account balance and parents' marital status (the latter two being used as in indication of family stress).

Being able to analyse these sorts of data may provide insights such as realising that it is counterproductive to nag certain students when they fail to submit drafts on schedule, or alerting teachers of the need to adapt to the learning style of a particular cluster of students.

Clearly, some of the data stored by the school is sensitive, so "the whole space we've designed is bound by security," said Carpenter. For example, teachers cannot access information collected by the counselling department, but the head of school can. However, there may be some benefit in alerting teachers to an issues in one of their student's lives before "I left my homework at Dad's" is tendered as an excuse.

"When you find something that can make a difference, it's exciting," said Carpenter.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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