The Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT) at the University of Queensland has been engaged in a strategic program of change to their learning and teaching practices. It was perceived that students were not engaged in courses of study using more traditional teaching approaches. The Faculty therefore developed several challenging courses to enhance student engagement with their learning in meaningful ways. This belief encouraged us to look at learning analytics in new ways and to develop new tools to assist students with their learning by creating student facing learning analytics.
Our focus for the student learning experience is to encourage students to take ownership of their own learning through engagement in authentic learning experiences through project-based work. Intertwined with this approach has been the development of a modular and scalable suite of learning analytics tools that assist students to adapt to this learning environment.
The learning analytics tools have been developed within the eLearning Innovations and Partnerships in Science and Engineering (eLIPSE) centre. eLIPSE is a collaboration of academics across faculties which resulted in a suite of tools to make use of both existing institutional data and novel approaches to course design. These tools assist students to develop self-management, self-awareness and team work skills.
Two main tools, the Learning Pathway and the Dashboard were designed to assist students to answer the following question:
What can you say about your learning from the learning analytics tools that we provide you?
A subset of questions that flow from this are:
The innovations are as follows.
The Learning Pathway
The Learning Pathway is an interactive navigational interface for students with recommendations on how they should work through the course. It breaks complex learning and sequences (e.g. podcast, online formative quiz, on-campus laboratory workshop then online summative quiz) down into manageable steps and provides just in time access to resources and support materials. The Learning Pathway provides information to students about their course in several ways. It is a visual roadmap that signposts for students what they “need to know” and “what they need to do” each week. It provides students with a personalised version of their path through the course and students can mark items as complete. From the institutional perspective, the Learning Pathway enables us to make sense of clickstream data as students interact with course content.
The Dashboard provides up-to-date formative feedback to students throughout the semester to develop the capacity to take ownership of their learning. Students are able to see their cumulative grade point average, based on the number of assessments completed so far, and can relate this to the position of other students in the class through their ability to see the average grade achieved by the entire class. They are then able to take action to address this situation if they deem it necessary.
A third tool, theJourneyMaker will link these two tools back to the institutional level.
theJourneymaker (tJM) is a "whole-of-curricula" design environment that permits users to systematically build and assess curricula, and to demonstrate how they map against required outcome standards. The tool visualises progressive development of knowledge, skills/application and attitudes in the curriculum and provides rich information to inform decision making and monitor student progress.
A range of other projects within the Centre seek to advance understanding of Technology Enhanced Learning in disciplinary contexts through focused collaborative development of eLearning and Learning Analytics tools, methodologies and infrastructure.
The eLIPSE Learning Pathway is used in 82 courses across 6 Faculties. The Dashboard is currently being piloted in a large First Year Engineering class (1000 students). The tools developed by eLIPSE and disseminated across the university are being used by a steadily increasing number of students as shown by the Learning Pathway course enrolments data. The tools have also been successfully trialled in several other institutions.
We have also seen a marked qualitative impact on students in terms of their own learning. Students who initially thought that they would struggle with ENGG1200, reported improvement in their ability to manage their own time over the course of the semester. For instance, one student said that they “struggle with planning and organisation” and were “already finding it . . . difficult to stick to deadlines”. This same student later said that the thing that “helped (them) the most was the Learning Pathway”. Students across the University have also requested that the Learning Pathway be available in all of their courses.Conclusion and future directions
eLIPSE has developed innovative and scalable approaches to support students to take ownership of their own learning using the Learning Pathway and Dashboard built on learning analytics data. We are able to link this to top down, institutional data on learning outcomes, assessment, information about timetabling and levels of attainment and relate these to clickstream data in near real time. The guidance and feedback that the Learning Pathway and Dashboard provide to students helps shift the focus from a narrow assessment-driven curriculum to one that is more concerned with learning objectives and students’ professional competencies.
Current work will provide students with more extensive feedback on their use of resources and support available to them.
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