Design and pilot of the learning analytics student tool in the University of Oulu

Holiday season is coming but we are still busy with learning analytics (LA). In this blog post we will update you about what is going in University of Oulu. First about the LA tool we have developed: how it was done and iterated and then about the continuing and planned pilots.

If you have been following our project and previous post, you may already know that one of the main goal in the AnalytiikkaÄly project was to develop learning analytics tools aimed directly for students. This was of high priority for the project and work started already in 2019. We had three guiding principles in our work: Grounding in learning theory, multidisciplinary collaboration, and user cantered design.

Firstly, we based out work on self-regulated learning theory suggesting four important phases for students self-regulated learning: Planning, monitoring, controlling and reflection. Our work aimed to support these phases with LA tool functionalities and we especially focused on the study path level starting from the begging till the end of the studies. As has been shown by previous research, majority of LA tools focus on course level processes with analytics reflecting micro level learning events. Our approach was different as we worked with and visualized macro level learning events such as enrolment and completion of courses, workload and graduation time estimations.

Picture 1. First version of the LA student tool

Secondly, we utilized multidisciplinary experts in the fields of IT and educational psychology, as well as legal specialist to plan, design and pilot the tool as well as to secure individuals’ privacy according to high ethical and legal standards.

Thirdly, the LA tool was designed based on the student needs analysis and improvements were made based on students’ feedback. So far, the tool has two iterations. Below you can see the first version of the tool is presented in the picture 1 and improved second version in the picture 2. Three functionalities were added to support planning of the studies. Additionally, more functionalities were added to help monitor progress of the studies without the focus on grades. 

Picture 2. Second improved version of the LA student tool.

Pilot of the improved version of the tool is organized from September 2020 until 2021 May. This study has a follow up design with pilot and control groups. Pilot groups will be provided with possibility to use the tool for the longer time and report on their experiences regarding perceived support for study planning, monitoring, controlling and reflection from the tool and its functionalities. Control groups will report about their regular experiences using other digital tools currently available in the University of Oulu.

This pilot will provide us an opportunity to gather students feedback about the tool. This information will be used to once again improve the tool as well as to better understand how phases of self-regulation are supported on the study path level. Additionally, we will be able to design recommendations and suggest processes how the LA tool should be best utilized in our university so that as many students as possible could benefit from learning analytics.

Egle Gedrimiene

University of Oulu