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Learn Your Way: How we use learner analytics to improve online learning

We talk to Andy Ramsden, The University of Law's Director of Technology Enhanced Learning & Teaching and Learning Analytics about how analytics are improving the way we teach and learn online.

By Elena Carruthers. Published 10 January 2023.

Just over two years into his appointment, Andy Ramsden, The University of Law’s Director of Technology Enhanced Learning & Teaching and Learning Analytics, reflects on some of the impressive analytics work undertaken by team's across the university: “In terms of where we sit alongside other institutions, The University of Law is at the forefront of using learner-led data to create personalised learning opportunities.”

“We have a suite of learning analytics tools which provide timely insights. We started by creating pilot schemes for the LLB and SQE,” he said. “We had a differing focus for each cohort. For the SQE, we looked at specific opportunities to improve successful outcomes. While for all other programmes, we looked at a broader spectrum of information using a system called Stream to enable Student Journey and Academic Coaching initiatives.”

While the technology behind gathering Learner analytics/data may be alien to some, the logic behind studying students’ progress and behaviours to improve performance is clear. But what does this look like for students studying with us on and offline? One way in which students will benefit from these developments is by receiving visualisations of their current progress and, potentially their predicted progress. These user-friendly graphics will become a familiar addition to the student dashboard and will be automated from the data of weekly tests and tracking. By tracking, we mean assessing the frequency with which learners enter their learning portals and visit different virtual areas, such as online modules, learning resources and media delivery platforms. 

Tutors have begun using these graphics as go-to points of reference when reviewing individuals’ development. They also offer the opportunity to track an entire cohort’s progress in comparison to their counterparts in different campuses/year-groups. It’s important to understand that all the detailed information stored about students’ learning behaviours will be kept and used securely in-line with global GDPR and will trigger positive messaging to students, whether it be via email or social tools. “These tools are there to empower students through understandable visualisation, in terms of seeing their own engagement over time,” said Andy.

How does interface-based technology like this relate to something as communication-based as debating and mooting? Andy, and others, are starting to explore how to trace competency results in more interpersonal skills-based activities, allowing a constant picture of how an individual is developing skills and confidence in these highly performance-based areas within the unique Learner profiles.

After acting as a lead analytics consultant for Blackboard and helping gather intelligence on learners in Europe, Africa and Middle East, Andy is enthused with how much the university’s existing learning and teaching model is already equipped to embrace learner analytics. "The University of Law is unusual and great, in that it offers a standardised learning and teaching model – which already collects data. Giving learners and tutors greater awareness of what they are doing well is front and centre in this innovative piece of work.”

 

If you would like to learn online with The University of Law and experience the support we offer first-hand, find out more about our Online campus.