Student analytics: First steps

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First steps

As part of our Analytics project we have started providing students with their learner data. This data includes information about how often and how long they have been using accessing Blackboard, the number of posts they have made in Google Communities and the number of weekly tasks they have completed compared to other students.

So far we have extracted data for 138 students. This involved collecting the information from Blackboard, Cathy Leahy converting the information into graphs using a program called R and then emailing the reports to students. This is quite a process but we’re hoping to create some shortcuts to speed it up.

One of the most important parts of the project is how, and if, students engage with the information and what they do with it. There are a number of different ways in which we are measuring this process. So far the data we have obtained has been qualitative and quite informal (getting feedback via email) but getting the students’ first initial impressions has been exciting.

Student feedback so far has been varied. What has stood out most is that students seem to be genuinely interested in their own learner data. Students appear to want to know about what their online behaviour looks like and how their behaviour compares to others. Students also want know more. For example, some students have asked about Google analytics, Echo360 analytics and time in specific areas in Blackboard. Students have also questioned how their analytics are linked to performance. Basically, students want a more complete picture.

On the other hand, some students have been sceptical. Even though students have been told that their learner data is not being assessed, students are understandably interested in knowing how this information is being used. Some students have also questioned the accuracy of the data and have questioned how the information has been obtained. All of this is important and relevant feedback and shows that students are thinking about the data in some way. Of course, whether or not this helps students reflect on their learning or changes their behaviour is yet to be understood.

This is the first step in trying to develop an analytics tool that provides useful information to students and there are a lot of issues to overcome but it has been an important step that will hopefully lead us in the right direction.

“Primeiros Passos” by Rodolfo Nunez CC licence on Flickr  

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