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Kim Aling

Blended Learning MOOC: Learning Analytics

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Edited by Kim Aling, Thursday, 4 Feb 2016, 12:52

I’m a strong supporter of the use of data to analyse learning in order to improve my learners and to develop my practice.  Technology leaves a data trail richer than anything we’ve had before, so why not use it. 

For online learning I have the potential to see if the materials as being accessed and how regularly.  This gives insight into why students aren’t performing well on assignments, if they are missing key content.  If I know lack of engagement is a problem I can target my feedback and have a chat with the students about any technical or accessibility issues they may have.   I can also see from combined indicators which students are at risk of not submitting as assignment or at risk of failing.  This allows early intervention. 

From the student perspective it allows me to be proactive and address an issue before the student gets to a point of no return.  This helps them to avoid risk of dropping out or the risk of an overly stressful period, which in itself can result in low assignment grades.

Learning analytics in another context can allow the teacher, or course designers to continually develop and tailor learning to the cohort.  Advanced data collection and analysis can even allow course content to be personalised to the learner.  Areas of weakness can be identified and additional material pushed, or stretch and challenge activities offered where learners are doing well. 

From a learners perspective it is also important to allow them access to their own data so that you give them the tools to reflect and develop their learning.  This fosters autonomy and empowers students to take control of their own learning.  This does need scaffolding so that students can be helped to understand data and understand the options available.  Therefore is has to be an easy tool with data that is easy to interpret.

For me, student use of data is vital if we are not to be seen as comtrolling their learning.   As teachers we may see what needs to be done, but developing autonomy is important if we are to develop their cognitive skills and create truly independent learners.

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Kim Aling

MOOC: Blended Learning Essentials - Why we use blended learning

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The Features of digital resources include.

  • Storage
  • Access 
  • Multimedia 
  • Personalisation 

These features lead to different ways on which teaching and learning can be enhanced.

These four properties and the ways in which they can add value to learning certainly align with my views on the benefits of blended learning.  Digital technologies also foster greater collaboration by providing more opportunities to co-create.  This develops students' wider skills in collaborative working.  

Another feature of digital technology is that it can open the door to greater personalisation through learning analytics.  Learning analytics is an exciting new area, providing ways to analyse what a student does and feed them new work tailored to their needs.  The OU have several projects trialling this.  See  http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/26/learning-analytics-student-progress. 

The ability to create quizzes that provide instructive feedback, but are machine marked helps students in terms of immediate feedback, particularly for formative assessment.  They also help teachers by freeing up the time otherwise spent marking that can now be utilised for those topics that require more face-to-face teaching time.  

Other ways in which digital technologies change teaching and learning are greater sustainability, with less need for paper. Our recent projects at New College include the roll out of Office 365 to all students and staff.  Teachers are now sharing documents with their class, reducing paper and photocopying usage.  

We have helped teachers set up Class OneNotes as a form of ePortfolio.  For example in Photography we have helped them set up a class OneNote for students to collect resources for their projects.  The teacher can review and comment on the collections.  We are exploring Yammer as an alternative to Facebook. 

We are now using the Video app in 365 to store videos that students can search and view, eg for GCSE Maths.   

Some subject areas, particularly Design and Technology and Fashion are using Pinterest so that students can share their research. 

We also have three pilot schemes using Surface tablets.  Three classes selected from different subject areas have been gifted tablets and the eLearning team are working with teachers to integrate their use onto the scheme of work.


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