By Richard Gascoigne, CEO at Solutionpath
Continuing with Sir Michael Barbers allegory that the Gravity Assist needed for the sector is to embrace its collective learning about digital teaching & learning over the last 12 months. I reflect upon the EdTech domain in which we operate and consider the future of engagement analytics in the new hybrid era.
There is a ‘call-to-arms’ for the sector to look at the importance of EdTech in the campus of the future.
The sector and the report highlight many important practices that represent a potential roadmap for the sector. Whilst Sir Barber highlights it is neither regulatory advice nor guidance (para 10), one theme is clear, online delivery is part of the delivery model that will remain regardless of on or off–campus learning.
To help colleges and universities achieve ‘good digital teaching and learning’ the report recommends six core components that educators can apply to their work. I would recommend anyone in the sector to read the report as it covers these themes in detail and the contributors, which are informed and diverse, both enrich your understanding and provide an action plan in developing your institutional digital agenda.
Data can support all six components of the model
The report states that ‘richer sources of data can bolster learning design, support monitoring of digital access and inform interactions to improve inclusivity’ (p88) and that more specifically ‘Learning analytics offers a data-driven approach to understand how students engage in their studies, which has the potential to help providers make strategic decisions about learning design and identify students in need of support’ (p87).
In the context of Learning Analytics, I want to further explain how we (at Solutionpath) offer something quite unique – Engagement Analytics. This is the codification of educationally purposeful activities using engagement monitoring, which is done objectively, without imbuing any bias, at scale and with speed. Providing educators with a rich source of daily data to inform decisions and take relevant and timely action, at a distance. And a means to expose the varying digital experience which can help across digital Teaching and Learning strategy.
Report recommendations & where engagement monitoring fits
1.Redesign pedagogy, curriculum & assessment
As with any initiative, measuring change supports the feedback loop. How a student interacts with new courses can be exposed through course level engagement analytics as well as individual learning journeys.
Being data–informed supports co-curation, however, data needs to be ready to share. Engagement with course curricular that does not include demographic markers can be readily shared without concern about marginalising specific groups.
Engagement with courses offers early indicators of successful participation. We have research evidence about the strong relationships between good engagement with courses/modules and student outcomes. This allows staff and students to anticipate issues ahead of an assessment and therefore ahead of a crisis. If a student fails an assessment, this requires remediation, where early warnings could avert failure and correct negative trajectories.
2.Ensure Digital Access
Engagement monitoring will clearly indicate those with any disparity. Identifying with absolute certainty those that have issues with accessing learning materials without the need for manual intervention.
3.Build Digital Skills
Data literacy is an important part of any course, whether in the development of evidence, creation of plans and feedback or motivational effort. Our product StREAM is a co-curation tool, exposing how students are making use of all the learning resources that are on hand in the Universities supply. These can be tracked, shared, and form an asset of their entire learning experience with the university.
4.Harness Technology Effectively
Engagement monitoring supports the understanding of how different learning resources are being utilised and form the basis of measuring their effectiveness in learning outcomes. StREAM is designed as a tool with common data views for both staff and students that fosters transparency between participants.
One of Solutionpath core axioms is the need to share data, the algorithms used are free from embedded bias where we measure their participation, not levy their disadvantage. Unifying the student digital experience through the lens of their engagement with the university allows staff to create highly personalised outreach campaigns around not only their actions but their specific cohort groups (such as care leavers or WP groups).
Students disengage from university life for many reasons and not just for academic reasons. Early alerting of disengagement allows university staff to act upstream of a crisis that leads to many negative outcomes; pastoral, health or academic issues.
By measuring all the fragments of engagement from your learning estate, whether through physical digital traces (such as attendance) or the virtual campus, a data agnostic and objective tool can support all aspects of your strategic plans. A tool that does not extenuate bias through its algorithms or exclude groups because of unidentified attributes (like undisclosed health conditions) will ensure that equity of support exists not because of ‘who’ they are, but what they need.
Monitoring the engagement of your diverse student, staff and technology ecosystem and the data insight this provides has significant importance in the future of digital teaching and learning and can be achieved swiftly in support of the recommendations in this report and become the propellent in your own institutional mission.
Take a look at the case studies from our partner community to find out how engagement analytics is impacting HE – here.
By Richard Gascoigne, CEO at Solutionpath Continuing with Sir Michael Barbers allegory that the Gravity Assist needed for the sector is to embrace its collective learning about digital teaching & learning over the last 12 months. I reflect upon the EdTech domain in which we operate and consider the future of engagement analytics in the new hybrid era. There […]
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