As I continue to work in and get to used to a much different space within higher ed, I've come to realize a professional value I have that I think is a helpful mindset to strive for no matter where you work.
It's the idea that we should focus more on the outcomes of our work versus the metrics. We can often get too caught up in the numbers and analytics of our work as the world becomes more digital. While on one hand, I think higher ed could be more metric driven at times, we need to properly balance this with the actual outcomes we're trying to achieve. The number of likes on a post, for example, won't matter if we aren't improving the student experience or retention through our outreach efforts.
If you're looking for a way to integrate data into your work in a meaningful way (which yes, please do) then you can try to find correlations between data points. A metric in isolation is interesting, but is hard to take any action on. Correlating the data can help try to make sense of these disparate numbers. For example, you can see if there is a positive effect on retention among students who attend events on campus each semester. Folks like Presence have found exactly these sort of insights with their campus partners, which really help shape what outcomes you want to strive for and what will be meaningful action to get there.
This sort of mindset should be construed as trying to get in the way of the very personal and human work we do. It rather is augmenting us to be able to put our focus and effort in the right place at the right time. It's powering our high touch roles with technology.
Data and metrics are important. They can inform our work and direct our efforts. I appreciate the accessibility of current data dashboards in my own work (for some more thoughts on this, check out my book review for Winning with Data).
I hope as you evaluate your work, and the role technology and digital assessments play in it, you make sure to consider both metrics and outcomes as companions helping you towards your goals.