New community of practice supports Power BI users at Penn State

August 31, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State Office of Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research (OPAIR) and Penn State World Campus, with support from Penn State University Libraries and Cloud Services, have created a community of practice (CoP) to support Power BI users at the University.

The Power BI CoP was established in January 2021 to give the Penn State community an opportunity to learn about and share experiences with Power BI, a Microsoft business analytics service that provides interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with an interface simple enough to allow end users to create reports and dashboards quickly. The CoP currently has more than 120 members from eight campuses, said Shannon Louise Lee, research associate in OPAIR.

“It is exciting to see what others are doing, what is possible, and how Power BI can work for everyone,” Lee said. 

More than two years ago, OPAIR began converting the Penn State Fact Book and other public-facing data into Power BI reports, now known collectively as the Data Digest, to democratize access to data and facilitate the sharing of information. Meanwhile, World Campus employees started a Power BI developer group after identifying a need for a space to share ideas, ask questions and establish best practices for an increasing number of Power BI users.

“Our leadership decided to transition Penn State World Campus data reporting from iDashboards to Power BI,” said Angela Gephart, analysis and planning consultant for World Campus. “That decision not only sparked a wave of change in how we build and share data and reports, but also created an education and experience gap that we needed to address. As more and more of the University became interested in using Power BI, we quickly realized that we had something bigger than just World Campus.”

At the University Libraries, the Department of Research Informatics and Publishing (RePub) provides research data services (RDS) to support researchers throughout the research life cycle. In 2020, RePub established a Data Analytics and Visualization team to offer workshops, consultations and lectures on the use of software tools including Power BI and Tableau. An Advanced Analytics and Visualization Digital Lab provides remote access to these special software tools. The team also partners with Penn State Cloud Services to provide cloud support for big data analytics, such as Azure, Amazon Cloud Services and Google Cloud Platform.

“We are excited to partner with the University Libraries to grow our shared resources and experiences to elevate the University’s use of data analysis and Power BI,” said Lee.

As a Microsoft Office 365 application, Power BI is free to Penn State users. The online version can be accessed at this link  and the desktop version (Windows only) can be downloaded at this link .

Learn more or join at the Power BI Community of Practice website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 31, 2021