Learning analytics and student wellbeing
In early 2017 whilst working on an internal Exploring Learning Analytics project I realised that learning analytics could potentially be used to support student wellbeing and had started to give talks on the topic (Learning Analytics talks, past and upcoming).
These ideas were first presented at the 2017 ALT conference in the session Learning analytics as a tool to support student wellbeing?, the talk was discussed in a Leicester Learning Institute blog post: ALT-C 2017 thoughts: What is the value of anonymity in learning? Should we be using learning analytics and will they create “filter bubbles”?
The research that this talk was based upon was later published as a series of blog posts on the UCL DigiEd team blog and referenced in the Jisc report Student wellbeing and mental health: the opportunities in learning analytics. In addition, the blog post(s) were discussed in a University of Bristol reading group. These were later refined to form the publication The potential and pitfalls of learning analytics as a tool for supporting student wellbeing (2018).
In 2018 I also participated in a number of media pieces, further raising the profile fo my research:
The caterpillar and the crocodile: analytics and wellbeing (University Business article)
Throughout 2018 and 2019 I presented a number of events, including Jisc LA community events, on the topics of learning analytics, wellbeing and learning design. A selection of these events are:
- 2018 SEDA Spring Conference: ABC learning design and learning analytics: intent meets indicators Samantha Ahern, Natasa Perovic, Clive Young
- EUNIS 2018 Learning Design and Learning Analytics with Gill Ferrell
- UKAT Tutoring Matters webinar: Using Analytics
- 2019 APT Conference: Synergies or conflicts? Relationship between learning analytics and student support in UK HEIs
- 2019 SmaRteN conference: Pedagogy, Culture and Student Wellbeing (conference poster and associated blog post)
Invitations to speak
- University of Liverpool (March 2018)
- Jisc Connect More: Scotland and Northern Ireland (2018)
- University of Leeds (2020, cancelled due to Covid-19)
In the autumn of 2018 I joined the 2nd UKAT UK Research Mentoring cohort. Through 2018 and 2019 I worked on the research project “Making a #Stepchange? Investigating the Alignment of Learning Analytics and Student Wellbeing in United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions“. This work was published in Frontiers in Education in November 2020. The publication has received a good number of views but there has been a notably less number of downloads.
In early 2019 I contributed to the research that has informed the University Mental Health Charter by facilitating focus groups that took place at the University of Staffordshire. I have since spoken with colleagues within UCL about the charter and collection of evidence.
I am currently undertaking the following research study “Uses of LA dashboards or visualisations in student advising“, the call for participation received 39 responses but only 12 participants completed the survey. At present work on this study has stalled due to other work commitments.
Local impact and recent activity
With regards to local impact. I have written a number of blog posts about the use of Moodle and Echo360 analytics. Most recently:
- Moodle: How do students use yours?
- Lecturecast: Viewed and understood?
- Lecturecast: what analytics should you use?
These were written early in the pandemic move to online teaching and learning. The intention was to help colleagues in using data to support their students by using the data available to identify potential issues.
In October 2020 I was invited to participate in the webinar Streamlining the virtual student experience . I found the pre-event discussion particularly interest as I had a different perspective from a number of the other panellists.
Personal experience of having to take time off and suspend studies due to issues with stress and anxiety, and working with colleagues in secondary education to support students having varoius difficulties has shaped my approach to this work and fueled the passion for it.
My initial work in this area made a notable impact and resulted in invitations to speak at institutions and events, and to take part in some podcasts. To be able to undertake this work I had to read some quite emotionally challenging material at times related to childhood wellbeing and mental health statistics. During this time it was important to look after my own wellbeing by undertaking the literature reviews in short bursts.
Unlike in previous academic years, since August 2020 I have not had any dedicated working hours to pursue my work in this area. As such, my work in this area has paused and I have not been able to keep up with the literature in the way that I would like.
Some aspects of this work have continued, ethical considerations of data and learning technology use, compassionate pedagogy and broader technology and wellbeing. Such as my ALT blog post Pandemic pedagogy: in praise of collaboration and compassion and the sharing of my some of my DigiEd team blog posts via Twitter.
Although I am not as active as I have been in the past, I hope that I can contain to contribute to and participate in the ongoing debate and development of learning analytics and student wellbeing in UK higher education.