25th June 2015 saw the 3rd meetup of the JISC Learning Analytics Network; an opportunity for educators within FE and HE to learn and discuss uses of Learning Analytics across the sectors. The day focussed around ways that Learning Analytics support engagement, academic interventions and aid retention. We were also invited to present our micro project proposal, ‘Transparent Analytics to Support Co-Creation’ to a panel of experts to decide which projects were to be funded by JISC.
Our project focus is around empowering students to be engaged in an informed discourse about the data that can be and is collected about them through a process of co-creation. On this occasion, we weren’t what the judges were looking for, but we are still committed to delivering a form of the project as planned.
We received some really positive feedback from colleagues at the event that our student centred, technology agnostic and open approach was bold and sector leading and we’re really looking forward to work with other institutions and with JISC in Learning Analytics projects in the future.
JISC’s Michael Webb introduced the architecture that they would support institutions with and the stages that they might want to get involved, presenting opportunities to make use of Open Source technologies that present a lower total cost of ownership for institutions, or proprietary solutions they may use already. As Falmouth are already exploring many of these connections it seems appropriate to get involved as early as possible in the project.
Using these tools together, institutions can build a map of learner activity and make appropriate interventions to support learners.
We also heard from Ed Foster, Student Engagement Manager at Nottingham Trent on their engagement dashboard, that draws information from a range of institutional systems and presents it in chart format for staff and students to give them an idea of progress.
Ed encouraged attendees to explore the institutional issues they were trying to solve and promoted the idea that “learning analytics is only as useful as the action it instigates”.
Many institutional Learning Analytics solutions are top down and technology driven, Nottingham Trent have a student focus as well as an institutional one, which is a positive approach.
If used in an open, transparent and ethical manner, learning analytics could drive deeper engagement in the learning experience for everyone involved in education. It’s encouraging that the sector is starting to shift towards a more inclusive approach and though JISC are only supporting the most popular institutional technologies at the early stages of the project, they are acknowledging the ‘other’, so that we find it easier to make use of modern web tools in the future.