bbStats data aggregation project

The deeper understanding of trends and indicators insight of the Blackboard Learn system is the topic of many sessions at BbWorld11.  Administrators want to know what value the Learning Management System provides to the organization, faculty developers want to know how the system is used, and academic leadership wants to know how students are affected by it.  This business intelligence reporting has been targeted by community projects like ASTRO ( ) or UMBC reports ( ).  Now there is a commercial product coming from iStrategy camp, now call Bb Analytics.

This new Bb Analytics product ( includes a Financials module, Student Administration, and soon also Blackboard Learn module.  By extracting transactional data from the various sources and applying multi-dimensional queries in de-normalized database it creates a platform for reporting which can answer questions at the strategic level.  The benefits of having a commercial product in this space is not trivial.  While basic data warehouses can be setup and managed by community projects, the data storage issue, performance of the source systems have always been a substantial problem.  Now administrators will be able to answer questions like: what tools in Blackboard are used or not used heavily; what instructors are using or not using Blackboard; how grades in the SIS system correlate to activity of the specific students in the LMS system; does the LMS make a difference in improving student success.

The bbStats building block ( has a different target.  By using light-weight queries on transient data and querying some already compiled BI data in the Bb Learn system, it provides system health information as well as system growth trend.  As such it allows system administrators to monitor the environment and usage stats which help in performance problem resolution.  The basic BI reports which can be delivered to mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc) give a baseline of system behavior.

After discussing the project with many administrators and developers at the bbWorld11 conference, I decided to pilot a new approach.  While baseline established within the organization is important, it is of great value to compare performance and growth stats with other institutions.  If the community can identify the performance stats across organizations, we can then share the best practices which created the leaders in the benchmark.

The prototype metric which schools can chose to share is the Active Course growth.  If the school installs the bbStats building block, then complete the pilot signup form ( ) the Active Course growth since Bb Learn was installed at the institution is graphed in comparison to other schools.  Just based on this metric we can identify adoption and semester trends.

Other metrics would be very interesting: what is the response time of your system ( given the inventory of your hardware ), what are the capacity peaks of your system, how many courses and users are present on your system.  Any of these comparisons across schools can join schools with problems to schools with solutions.  The comparative analytics experience across institutions is the future of LMS analytics.

Join the pilot project!


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