Learning analytics, organising the organisation

Collected data helps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations, helping to manage staff and make strategic management decisions

By Michael Webb – Director of technology and analytics – Jisc

We all know by now that Learning Analytics has the ground-breaking potential to improve both the student journey and learning experience. It’s a current buzz topic, and for good reason, with the prospect of boosting retention, lifting grades, and even making for happier students and teachers.

Less explored though, is the fact that the collected data also helps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of organisations as a whole, helping to manage staff and make strategic management decisions, as well as helping teachers to improve the ways in which they work.

Let’s not forget that TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) is looming, which will see the government observing and evaluating the quality of teaching in England’s universities. TEF sets out to create accountability, with the government aiming for a clear link between funding and teaching quality, providing opportunities to support and celebrate quality. So now more than ever, teaching excellence and value for money are taking centre stage. In the UK, over a third of 18-year-olds go to university – a substantial amount of students who need to receive the best student experience possible.

Learning analytics stands to set institutions in good stead when it comes to monitoring and improving quality of Learning Design alongside the Student Experience. In short, analytics involves collecting the information an organisation already has, and extracting useful insights as part of daily business. Using analytics we can tell how an individual student is engaging with their course content and teaching staff, and even how an entire class is progressing.

The government has also stated that the TEF aims to provide students with the information they need to judge teaching quality. With this in mind – teachers and lecturers need to be armed with high quality, precise and timely data in order to assess their student engagement and amend their teaching methods if needs be.

The cost

According to HESA, UK HE institutions lose between 1.3% and 20% of their undergraduate students every year, we’ve calculated that that equates to a loss of £16,919,091 every year (based upon an example HE institution with 20,000 students losing 3.9%). Learning analytics equips students and teachers with tools to measure, predict and act on risk factors leading to non-continuation. There is growing evidence that drop-out rates could be reduced by 5%, so our exemplar HEI could save at least £845,955 and achieve happier graduates, too.

A national solution

Jisc’s national learning analytics solution for the sector has over 50 universities and colleges signed up for initial phases, and is ready to reap the benefits of high quality big data. We’re even creating an app for students to allow them to track their learning activity and maximise their potential. As well as increasing graduation rates, the billions of data points collected by organisations as part of such a national system could be an exceptionally valuable resource for future educational research.

So who will benefit from the new solution internally?

As part of  the solution, members of staff will be able to view a dashboard showing the learner engagement and attainment of their students, allowing them to you better help students who might be struggling, and to maximise attainment (or priority groups), and to better understand how to make learning design more effective.

Data managers will be able to access even more student learning activity data, allowing them to undertake business analysis to improve the organisations efficiency and effectiveness.  Key to a successful implementation is of course taking care of data privacy and security – and our Code of Practice on this very subject has been approved by the NUS.  We also provide expert consultancy together with a well-defined legal and procurement frameworks to help HE Institutions get moving swiftly. IT directors will have a working learning analytics solution securely hosted that will cost you less, provide even more services and be supported and maintained. 

Get in touch

If your institution is interested in our learning analytics service, email setup.analytics@jisc.ac.uk. Read our Understanding your data guide and our Code of practice for learning analytics

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