Embedding Data Use for Supporting Students

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The National Forum’s ‘Embedding Data Use for Supporting Students’ webinar took place on Tuesday 28 April 2020. It is the third in an ongoing National Forum webinar series that looks at effective practices for using data to support students.

This event focused on the challenges and benefits of embedding data use into ongoing institutional practices. The speaker line-up featured Ed Foster, Nottingham Trent University, who discussed the university’s lessons learned in devising and implementing one of the UK’s pioneering learning analytics platforms, the NTU Student Dashboard. Closer to home, Dublin Business School’s Lee Richardson and Sarah Sharkey explored their experience of intervening with students who may be struggling, as identified by their home-grown early alert system. Speaker Jeremy Britton introduced University College Dublin’s Unified Service Model which uses data to ensure student queries and issues are addressed and resolved efficiently and consistently across the campus.

Learning Analytics: Innovative Practices

This is a recording of the National Forum’s webinar ‘Learning Analytics: Innovative Practices’ from November 2019. Our second learning analytics seminar, this event provided presenters from Irish and European higher education to offer brief but highly informative and thought-provoking presentations on the innovative practices relating to data-enabled student success that they are currently engaged in. Presenters include Hazel Murphy from Waterford Institute of Technology who outlines the rich value of quiz data for enabling staff who teach to develop a data-enhanced practice, Pieterjan Bonne of Artevelde University College, who introduces some of the early key findings of the Erasmus+ OFLA (Onwards from Learning Analytics) project and Mark Glynn who gives an overview of how Dublin City University uses data gathered through Moodle to avoid assessment overload, identify students that may be at risk of underperforming and enhance the experience of all students.

Learning Analytics: What Works?

This webinar explores innovative approaches to harnessing data, and the growing recognition of its potential to support whole-of-institution strategies for student success.

Primarily aimed at Ireland’s higher education teachers and policy-makers/managers, this interactive online event discusses what an effective data-enabled student success strategy looks like. It also explores a range of national and international best practice on dynamic data-led student success initiatives.

The speaker line-up includes Linda Hanna who discusses her experience of implementing a successful institutional learning analytics strategy at the University of Essex. The award-winning use of everyday software to provide personalised feedback to large student groups is presented by GMIT’s Dr Cormac Quigley. Dr Niamh Nestor and Diane Cashman explore UCD’s advanced learning analytics initiative.

Learning Analytics Platform Guide

The information in this guide was submitted directly by interested vendors through a request
for information (RFI) that was issued internationally by the National Forum and HEAnet through
eTenders, the Irish Government’s tendering platform (Reference number: HEAnet_DESSI_
LearningAnalytics18). RFIs are standard business processes, through which suppliers and vendors
are asked to provide information on their products’ capabilities.

Individual vendors were not targeted. Rather, a general request was extended through eTenders,
inviting responses from self-selecting vendors that met a range of criteria, most notably that they
had already worked with HEIs in Europe to provide platforms that enabled analysis of data relating
to student engagement and success.

Vendors were asked to respond to a standardised set of questions relating to:
— User functionality
— Service agreements
— Cost
— Infrastructural and technical specification
— Compatibility with platforms currently in use in Irish HEIs

In total, nine responses were received, all of which are included in this guide. The responses have
not been altered or edited and are presented in the exact format in which they were submitted
directly by the vendors themselves.

Progression Analysis at Waterford Institute of Technology

This study was conceived as part of a broader effort on the part of the Institute to understand with greater clarity the profile of the student body and specifically to identify factors that may negatively impact on student retention and progression. The institution also sought to build a more robust evidence base on which to plan proactive initiatives designed to address retention and progression issues at institutional, department, course and module level. In particular, they recognised the need for a more evidence-based understanding of the retention and progression challenges at module and programme level in order to inform more effective and targeted deployment of resources by faculty and by central services at the earliest possible stage in the programme lifecycle.

UL’s Student Engagement and Success Unit (SESU)

Recognising the impact of attrition on students, UL tracked the rates for first years over a seven-year period (2005-2013) and identified an increase in attrition averaging 13%. In addition to the costs and missed opportunities incurred by students that leave college early, this pattern also represented a significant loss of revenue to the University. In order to fully understand the issues impacting on first year UL students,
the University sought to identify best practices to support first year engagement both inside and outside the classroom, to leverage the value of learner data as a resource, to identify students at risk of withdrawing prematurely and to develop an effective and meaningful Student Engagement Policy.

Letterkenny IT Digital Attendance Monitoring System

LYIT continuously strives to enhance the experience of its students. A key goal in this process is to improve student retention, in which in-class attendance has been found to play a significant role. Attendance was traditionally recorded on a paper-based system, with data being manually compiled and digitised. This proved to be both cumbersome and time consuming. Recognising that retention reporting would be best served by a user-friendly approach that would eliminate the need for paper-based documents, allow the creation
of records for lecturers and the transfer of data to administration staff for timely reporting, senior managers within LYIT sought the development of a bespoke digital attendance monitoring system.

Analytics Policy Development in IT Blanchardstown

IT Blanchardstown has long recognised the value of data for enabling an evidence-based approach to decision-making. Given an increasing interest in maximising the power of that data, but cognisant of the importance of using it in an ethical and sustainable way, the need was established for an institute-wide policy and strategy that would set boundaries and guidelines for operationalising learning analytics initiatives. It was a necessary first step in ensuring appropriate use of student data for learning analytics, and to collaboratively define
a roadmap for next steps in implementing data enabled student success initiatives.