Data Communications in Institutional Research: Insights from AAUDE 2024

The Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) recently convened its annual meeting, hosted by Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania from May 5 to 8 in Princeton, New Jersey. Georgia Tech Institutional Research and Planning co-facilitated a thought-provoking session titled: “Forget ‘SciCommers’ (Science Communicators). What about ‘DataCommers’ (Data Communicators)? What does Data Communications look like around AAUDE?”

The Lightning Panel Session

In this dynamic session, GT IRP co-facilitated a lightning panel discussion that explored the evolving landscape of data communications within higher education. Spearheaded by Princeton University, the panel included institutional researchers from the University of Maryland, Caltech, and Georgia Tech.

Defining Data Communications

Data communications is no longer a peripheral aspect of institutional research—it has become a critical component. But what exactly is data communications? The panel offered the following perspectives:

  1. Education and Partnership: Data communications involves educating stakeholders about institutional data and fostering partnerships across departments. Effective communication ensures that data is not only collected but also understood and utilized for informed decision-making.
  2. Community Engagement: Beyond internal stakeholders, data communications extends to the broader university community. Engaging faculty, students, and administrators in data-driven discussions promotes transparency and accountability.
  3. NOT an Iron Viz Competition: Unlike data visualization competitions (such as Iron Viz), data communications is not about flashy graphics or winning accolades. It’s about conveying meaningful insights to diverse audiences in a clear and accessible manner.
  4. Integration: Data communications should seamlessly integrate with existing institutional processes. Whether it’s reporting to accreditation bodies, supporting strategic planning, informing policy decisions, or partnering with campus stakeholders, effective communication ensures data’s relevance and impact.

AAUDE’s Purpose

AAUDE* serves as a public service organization dedicated to improving the quality and usability of information about higher education. Its membership comprises AAU institutions committed to data exchange and evidence-based decision-making.

As the AAUDE welcomed six new institutions during the 2024 Annual Meeting, the importance of data communications continues to grow. By fostering collaboration, transparency, and informed dialogue, AAUDE members contribute to the advancement of higher education.

*The Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Association of American Universities (AAU).

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