Drawing on eleven case studies, we examine why institutions are deploying learning analytics, and what the benefits are for learners. We also discuss the main data sources being drawn upon by institutions and the technical architecture required.
The emphasis of the report is on investigating the evidence for learning analytics: what impact is it having, and to what extent can the algorithms actually predict academic success? We also look at how institutions are carrying out interventions to attempt to retain students at risk, and provide better support for all students as they progress through their studies.
The report clearly defines 4 different contributions Learning Analytics can bring:
As a tool for quality assurance and quality improvement Learning Analytics can give lecturers much more insight in the effectiveness of their courses, information on improvements they can make and contribute to the quality assurance process.
As a tool for boosting retention rates Learning analytics can provide students with an opportunity to take control of their own learning, give them a better idea of their current performance in real-time and help them to make informed choices about what to study.
As a tool for assessing and acting upon differential outcomes among the student population Learning Analytics can provide valuable insights in making education more inclusive for minority groups.
As an enabler for the development and introduction of adaptive learning personalised learning delivered at scale, whereby students are directed to learning materials on the basis of their previous interactions with, and understanding of, related content and tasks.
I agree with the authors that learning analytics has the potential to transform the way we measure impact and outcomes in learning environments. The field of Learning Analytics is developing quickly, also driven by the research in MOOCs. Further investment in LA will lead to better outcomes for students, universities and wider society.
To tackle the challenges of providing top-level university education, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam (LDE) have joined forces. Through this partnership three universities with complementary specializations create a world-class platform for educational research, innovation and training: the Centre for Education and Learning (CEL).
The LDE Centre for Education and Learning now seeks to appoint a Professor of Higher Education with a focus on teaching and learning processes in a digital environment. The Professor will be formally appointed at Delft University of Technology.
You will work closely with the online learning team of TU Delft, the Online Learning Lab of University of Leiden and project Online Onderwijs of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
First, the chair covers the whole domain of higher education and includes the scientific reflection on research and theory development in the broad field of higher education. Subareas of higher education research and theory development include 1) students and their study success, 2) teachers and their teaching success, 3) learning environments for on-campus, online and blended teaching and learning, 4) special topics such as assessment, internationalization, diversity, and educational policy, and 5) teaching and learning in individual disciplines.
Second, the chair has a focus on teaching and learning in a digital environment, for instance online and blended forms of education followed by data analytics of these learning processes. New knowledge is to be created in this relatively new field of research. The three LDE universities are among the forerunners in this field and consider it of the utmost importance that these innovations are as much evidence-based as possible. The chair holder can rely and build on existing expertise within CEL and its pillars in the individual universities. It is expected that the chair holder brings the various researchers together and promotes knowledge exchange and joint knowledge creation. The research will enable evidence-informed university policy making, evidence-informed development of new university teaching projects, evidence-informed continuous professional training of university teachers, and will ameliorate teaching and learning theory.
This week Erna, Marjan and me attend the yearly userconference of Desire 2 Learn (D2L Fusion). We signed the contract 3 weeks ago, so it was a good opportunity for us to get to know the D2L community and learn from other universities.
This year’s FUSION was in Washington DC and was attended by around a 1000 participants and 30 partners.
I have been to many product user conferences, such as Blackboard, Stellent, EdX, Coursera, but this one is ranked very high on ambiance, contact with staff and leadership. The European team of D2L organized extra activities for us and helped us set up meeting with other universities to talk about their experiences. We really felt welcomed in the D2L community.
One of the impressive sessions was the product update session. It was not just presenting new features, but based on a couple of scenarios live demo-ing how the scenario worked. Most of features that were presented are available right now or will be available in two weeks (no vaporware). I saw people turning on the new features on their ipads during the session. It is always risky to do live demos, but they even took it one step further and did it on three devices (laptop, tablet and mobile phone). They even used voice input. It all worked like a charm.
Important part of the product update is the new Daylight Experience. Watch this video to get an overview of this version:
One of the things that was missing in Brightspace was an integrated video solution. During the product update they announced that they have partnered up with YouSeeU. Per Augustus 4 there is a virtual classroom available inside the platform without additional costs. It can handle up to 100 participants, recordings are stored for 16 weeks and it includes dial-in for instructors.
Training and meetings
During the conference we had presentations and meeting with other universities that have made similar transition from other LMS to Brightspace. There were a lot of former Blackboard clients I have to say. But it was also interesting to talk to some of the first clients that are using the product for many years.
On Wednesday we had a full day of training in small groups. So plenty of time to hear from other universities as well. One of the things that our instructor will certainly like is this Course Adventure Pack. That really lines up with our tender were we said that the platform should be fun.
It was a good investment of our time and money. It really helped us to improve our migration plan and don’t make mistakes others have made. For me it also strengthened our choice for D2L as partner for our Collaboration & Learning Environment.
Today we reached a big milestone in our MOOC activities: one million enrollments! Just before Christmas of 2012 I was asked to start a small project to develop 4 MOOCs. On September 15th 2013 the first two DelftX MOOCs started on the edX platform. Now 3 years later we have developed 36 MOOCs (and more in the pipeline). I'm proud of the result and the impact this project has had.
With the development of the first courses we were figuring out the process on-the-go. This was trully an adventure, nowadays it is a fully organised and supported process. For most course teams it is a first time experience and if they listen to our advice and tips it will be a easy but still an intensive process. Off course not all course teams listen (they're academics) and that keeps us busy ;-). More than 80 lecturers have been involved in one or more MOOCs. And don't forget all those students that assisted the lecturers in developing the courses.
In these three years were we started with a small support team of 4 (Janine, Mark, Gijs and me) and have grown to the Extension School support team of more than 20 people. That group is not just supporting MOOCs but also OpenCourseWare, Professional Education, Online and blended education.
To celebrate this milestone we have created a infographics. You can download it from our website. The data of three years of MOOCs is impressive:
1M course enrollments by 699.014 learners from 229 countries aging between 8 and 94 (average age is 29). These learners have watched 13.824.919 minutes of video (26 year and 104 days). We have issued 28.739 certificates. Average pass rate for the verified certificates is 69% (highest 81,5%). More than 100k surveys were submitted. Our learners appreciate our MOOCs with a 8 (out of 10). Some courses even score above 9.
When you start an initiative it is always great to receive external recognising for your course. And we did:
The small MOOC project has been a tremendous success for TU Delft. The impact is much bigger than anticipated at the start. And we will continue to develop our MOOCs in quantity and quality. Below is an graphical view of the enrollments per course.
An interesting paper of George Veletsianos (Royal Roads University), Justin Reich (MIT), and Laura Pasquini (University of North Texas and Royal Roads University) was just published in the journal AERA Open (American Educational Research Association). The paper focuses on the activities of the learners in MOOC that can't be tracked in the tracking logs.
The authors interviewed 92 learners from around the world in different ages and gender. The learners participated in 4 MOOCs of HarvardX (they are aware that these learner might not be very representative). Their research findings reveiled three domains of the experience of the MOOC learners that you can't see in the tracking logs.
Some of the findings:
learners work at workstations that include not only computers but also notebooks, paper printouts, reference books, additional devices, and other people.
students’ online activities extend beyond the MOOC platform, to a variety of reference resources and online social networks that support student learning. Whereas many MOOCs are designed as a comprehensive learning experience, tudents appear to treat them as a single node in a broader network of learning opportunities.
MOOC learning takes place in a broader learner world. This world goes beyond workstations, MOOC platforms, and online spaces, and it is a world in which students negotiate for time across multiple competing commitments.
I agree with the authors we should be more aware of what the learners are doing outside the platform. I do question if the HarvardX MOOCs are a good representation of current MOOC course designs. I personnally have the feeling they are still content centered and not focus on the learning experience.
The Life Between Big Data Log Events. Learners’ Strategies to Overcome Challenges in MOOCs. George Veletsianos, Justin Reich, Laura A. Pasquini. AERA Open Jun 2016, 2 (3) 2332858416657002; DOI: 10.1177/2332858416657002
Yesterday I attend the policy forum on European MOOCs organised by the HOME project. This was the third event of the HOME project I attended after Porto and Rome. In 22 presentation we got a good overview of policy for MOOCs on European, governmental and institutional level. The presentators submitted 19 papers.
Last week EADTU published the report MOOCs in Europe. This report is an overview of papers representing a collective European response on MOOCs as presented during the HOME conference in Rome November 2015. This report is published as part of the project HOME - Higher education Online: MOOCs the European way. The project is ending this month with a policy meeting on the 28th of June in Brussels.
The report includes 31 papers in 6 categories:
Part 1: Regional MOOC initiatives (3 papers)
Part 2: Role media exposure on MOOC development (2)
Part 3: Supporting the selection of MOOC platforms (8)
Part 4: Business models European MOOCs (5)
Part 5: Pedagogical approaches in European MOOCs (8)
Part 6: Shared services in European MOOC context (5)
Interesting to see is the diversity of authors that have written the reports. They representing institutes in 18 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and UK). Although some large European countries (France and Germany) are not included.
Jansen, Darco; Konings, Lizzie (2016). MOOCs in Europe. ISBN 978-90-79730-19-3
This week I'm attending the EDEN annual conference in the beautiful Budapest. Nelson Jorge, Sofia Dopper and me wrote a paper about the TU Delft Online Learning Experience. This is a pedagogical model that supports the development of our courses and strives for increasing quality. The creation of the OLE was an important step for TU Delft, contributing to the development of online courses in a more systematic and consistent way, guiding all course development teams through the realisation of several shared educational principles.
At the Gala Diner of the conference we received the EDEN 2016 Best Practice Inititative Award for our paper. The award is not just for the paper but for the whole initiative of designing the model and implementing it for our courses. I see it as a great appreciation for the work we are doing with the TU Delft Extension School.
Online Learning Experience model
The OLE holds 8 principles to support course teams in the design and development of online courses. The model was elaborated based on the foundations established by distance learning experts (Moore, 1991; Keegan, 1996; Palloff & Pratt, 1999; Garrison, 2000; Peters, 2000; Anderson, 2003; Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Salmon, 2011; Salmon, 2013; Bates, 2015) and the know-how of the TU Delft Online Learning Course Development Team.
Jorge, Nelson; Van Valkenburg, Willem; Dopper, Sofia (2016). The TU Delft Online Learning Experience: From Theory to Practice in Teixeira, Szucs and Mazar (2016). Conference Proceedings EDEN 2016 Annual Conference. ISBN 978-615-5511-10-3. License CC-BY 4.0
Here is the presentation Nelson presented at the conference.
And the link to the model explaining all the principles. Below is the video of teacher's perspective of Online Learning Experience
After an European tender procedure Delft University of Technology has selected a new LMS supplier. After 17 years we are saying goodbye to Blackboard and are going to migrate to the cloud-based platform of the Canadian Desire2Learn: Brightspace Learning Sytem. I'm very pleased with the result of our tender based on best value procurement. We have selected a partner that is eager to work with us for the next 10 years with a product that fits our strategy and is ready for the future. The new platform not only includes the full Brightspace Learning Environment (including ePortfolio, Learning Repository), but also their full Learning Analytics platform, including their predictive Learning Analytics system.
Before we started with our tender we noticed that the traditional tender method of listing all our requirements gave such a long list, that no supplier would meet all requirements. So that selecting the best solution would be hard. That is why we changed to a best value procurement. In stead of listing all the requirement we wrote down our mission, strategy and goals we wanted to reach with the conditions (price ceiling). It was now up to the suppliers to use their expertise and know-how to provide us with the best solution they could offer within the conditions.
It also meant that they didn't need to provide us thick offers. It was limited to 2 pages for their performance substantiation, 2 pages for their risk file, and 2 pages for their opportunity file. Next to the paperwork each supplier could send 2 key persons that would be interviewed according to a standard list of questions (first question is why are you a key person?).
The most interesting is in the interviews and dossiers that we are looking at relevant dominant data. So no marketing talk, but real measurable data that can be verified. So for example, not "we have done many successful implementation", but "we have done 83 implementations in the last 2 years. Of which 79 were on time and within costs. The industry standard is 80%". This also meant that during the tender the people that will do the implementation would need to be involved. And that really improves the quality of their dossiers (if you involve the right persons).
The grades of the dossiers and interviews are based on a system that starts at 6. If you have dominent information it can go up to 8 or 10 or down to 4 or 2. So no dominant data means a 6. These grades are converted into a subtraction of the price. Combining that with the price of their offer leads to a ranking. The number one goes to the clarification & verification phase.
In the clarification & verification phase we worked together with the team of Desire2Learn to create the plan (a whole list of deliverables) and to verify their dossiers (If that doesn't work out or the verification shows error we would move on to the supplier that was ranked second). We are not buying a platform, but a plan to implement their platform. Yesterday we have finished this process and we have (provisional) awarded the tender to D2L.
Desire2Learn (D2L) is a Canadian based company founded in 1999, that is still run by the founder John Baker. According to the Ovum decision matrix for selecting an online learning platform D2L is:
Brightspace received the highest overall technology assessment score, obtaining at least a top-three rating in all 15 categories. Not unexpectedly, Brightspace received a perfect score for student performance and retention. D2L offers analytics-driven progress monitoring capabilities from within Brightspace, and in 2012 the company partnered with IBM to deliver the Smarter Education Solution, which incorporates an intervention management system and predictive analytics. Although D2L is ahead of other OLP providers when it comes to integrated analytics – and in particular predictive
analytics – the company upheld its promise to drive successful learning outcomes and its reputation for providing an open learning platform that can easily integrate with other education technologies by partnering with IBM. IBM is more attuned to predictive models and data systems, and together the two companies can help institutions leverage student data in meaningful ways. Separately, D2L also achieved a perfect score for accessibility. Its accessibility program is integrated into its R&D lifecycle, and designs are regularly reviewed with its Accessibility Interest Group, which demonstrates its commitment to this category. D2L combines all of its capabilities with impressive training and support services, and a high-touch approach to customer engagement. For example, D2L has designed custom training sessions at the request of some of its customers to help institutions learn more about topics such as accessibility. Ovum anticipates that as the industry moves into the next phase of OLP purchasing, vendors with strong support services around its solutions will be particularly appealing.
Although at its core D2L is a technology provider, it also has a strong focus on pedagogy and how enhanced learning experiences can help address the skills gap when students move on to employment. As a result, D2L received the highest score for the capacity to support next-generation online teaching and learning. The Brightspace platform moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach and is instead highly personalized to meet differing student needs. Furthermore, D2L was ahead of its competitors in addressing demand for competency-based learning and adaptive learning.
Ovum recommends that as a market leader, Brightspace by D2L should be included in an institution's list of OLPs. Moving from managing to improving learning, Brightspace meets the core functionality criteria defined in this ODM, and although its brand awareness could be stronger in certain regions it is certainly strong in North America and among its competitors. The company is continuously evolving its offerings to meet the needs of the higher education market.
Implementation & Migration
So after all the formal and legal stuff around the tender, now we can start the actual work. We have formed a great team of people from D2L and TU Delft that will run the project under the project management of Erna Kotkamp. We are very lucky we have someone as Erna in our team. With her passion, drive, skills and eye for detail, I'm convinced this will be a successful project that will give our lecturers and students a platform for the next ten years.
Update 30 June: Stand-still period has ended and the contract is signed.