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Opportunity Areas for Learning Analytics in Higher Education Institutions

There is a revolution taking place in our classrooms and at its forefront is technology. Now more than ever before established teaching and learning methodologies are being challenged. As a result, higher education institutions are forced to rethink their processes and take initiatives to modernize them. In the search for solutions, learning analytics (LA) is playing an increasingly prominent role. With LA policymakers now have a wealth of data they can tap into and use to innovate and improve educational effectiveness. Below we look at several opportunity areas where insights from learner-produced data can enhance the learning and teaching experience at all levels of an institution.

Students: Engagement, Progression & Success

A recent survey conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of McGraw-Hill Education posed the question: Are Learning Analytics the New ‘Likes’? The survey of more than 2,600 U.S. college students found that LA technology in the classroom increases learner engagement with the course material (77%), instructor (64%), and fellow classmates (50%). For at-risk students having access to this data could mean early detection and support from instructors. With the logs of student activity, teachers can determine what factors are blocking their progress and make data-driven decisions in real-time. They can also track high-achieving students and develop strategies to keep them motivated and engaged. By providing student support throughout the cycle of the course, educators can significantly reduce dropout rates and increase academic success.

Instructors: Course Development & Design

When implemented well, analytic data can aid curriculum by identifying areas of inefficiency and opportunity. Course evaluations play a crucial role because they allow instructors to solicit feedback from learners that can then be used to facilitate course development. But, while course evaluations generally provide reliable data there are still barriers to their effective use. One such limitation is that traditional software can only analyze quantitative data leaving the information gathered from qualitative data, captured through open-ended questions, out of reports. Blue Text Analytics (BTA) is a world-class content analysis tool that makes sense of qualitative data. With BTA colleges and universities can examine qualitative responses, categorize them into meaningful themes, and convert them into results. By unlocking these new data insights, instructors can get a more complete picture when making decision related to course design.

Institution: Reputation Management

Academic reputation is a key component for any higher education institution. For potential students, faculty, funding partners, and even future employers a strong reputation is often a top consideration. The basis for reputation in higher education depends on many factors including academic catalogue, recruitment, retention, research initiatives, and graduate rates. In the wake of rising competition institutions need to demonstrate their ability to evolve in order to meet set goals. Innovative leaders are now turning to the vast amounts of data they have stored in their learning management system (LMS). With this information, administrators can then revisit recruiting efforts, find ways to engage more effectively with alumni and build stronger relationships with external organizations. By identifying strengths or weaknesses within their processes, analytic data can inform universities on strategies to improve.

How are learning analytics being employed within your institution? What are some of the benefits you believe learning analytics will generate? Comment and let us know.

Chanel Sutherland
Marketing Content Specialist, eXplorance