Learning Analytics – getting a picture of student engagement and performance

 

Learning Analytics (LAs) is a rapidly growing area in formal education that is worth paying attention to because of its rising prevalence and its power to help both students and teachers maximise course performance. The University of Brighton is expanding its successful learning analytics pilot. Here’s a quick overview for you:

What are Learning Analytics?

LAs piece together separate streams of information on learners’ activities to paint an overall picture of engagement with, and progress through, a taught course. This information is presented digitally (usually via a dashboard) in a meaningful way to help students assess where they are on the course (often in comparison to cohort averages) and to help teachers monitor their students’ engagement and the effectiveness of teaching interventions.

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Real experience of using PollEverywhere interactive tool in lectures

Ever considered what it’s like using voting software in your teaching? Here are three real-life examples of how BSMS teachers are using PollEverywhere (the live audience response tool in which students can respond to questions using their own phones or laptops – see this page for more details and other interactive tools for teaching):


Marwa Elamin
Senior Lecturer in Neurology

What was the session?
It was a symposium focused on Motor Neuron Disease, with all 2nd year medical students. It was 3 hours long, divided into three sections: 1. Doctor’s perspective (75 min), 2. Multidisciplinary team perspective (45 min), 3. Patient perspective (60 minutes), with a concluding discussion.

What were you looking to achieve?
I used Poll everywhere during the doctor’s perspective part of the seminar mainly in the form 3-4 multiple choice questions about a subtopic (e.g. epidemiology or treatment of MND) before talking about that topic. Participation was anonymous and high for most questions. I showed the students the results of the poll and discussed the right answer. It helped (1) gauge the students prior knowledge about a specific subject ; (2) keep the students engaged and focused in the session.

At the very end of the symposium I used the word cloud format questions to ask the students to submit one word which would express (1) their take away message about how to care for people affected with MND, and (2) their experience during the symposium.

How did the session go?
The session itself went extremely well. Students were easily able to find the website and participate. I was able to hide the the incoming responses until polling was over for each question to ensure students are not influenced by each other’s responses. I was able to generate an ‘executive summary’ of the responses for each question afterwards.
The main negative was that I had to alternate between my PowerPoint slide show and the website. If the poll was embedded in the slides, that would have led to a more smoother delivery but it was not a big issue.
The word cloud option was fantastic and the result were so inspiring that the MND Care and Research Network coordinator uploaded it onto Twitter!

What advice would you give to others who might be considering PollEverywhere?
The platform was very user-friendly. Within 10 minutes I had understood how to use it , add questions, edit them and change their order and segregate them into subgroups. I would use it again.

I would recommend it specifically for (1) sessions that are long and thus there is risk of losing audience concentration; (2) in sessions where audience participation or an evaluation of prior knowledge would be of value. My advice is to ‘bunch’ the questions into groups and experiment with different formats for the questions.


Mike Tarzi
Senior Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Immunologist

What was the session?
Immunology revision sessions with year 1 medical students. Most of the year attended, probably around 90 students.

What were you looking to achieve?
I wanted something to facilitate a quiz session during the lecture.

How did the session go?
Technology worked well enough with no major problems. The sessions worked better than the previous approach (pen and paper followed by facilitated discussion) – much more interactive and I had a better feel for the overall performance of the students.

How did you find using the tool generally?
Easy to use and very intuitive. PollEverywhere worked well in a lecture hall / large group environment.

What advice would you give to others who might be considering PollEverywhere?
Definitely recommended. Seek technical support for the first session!


Elaine MacAninch
Research and Education Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutrition

What was the session?
An evening lecture on sports nutrition for the sports medicine society. I was facilitating the final Q&A session.

What were you looking to achieve? Why did you use PollEverywhere?
I wanted to get an idea of which types of sports the audience were interested in and also how many people were running the Brighton marathon or planning to run a marathon. The audience were also able to type questions throughout the presentation.

How did the session go?
PollEverywhere was successful in achieving the above. It was easy to use and most of the audience participated. It was novel and introduced some humour to the session. There were approximately 10 questions submitted and I was able to amalgamate similar themes to condense to 3-4 questions. This would be tricky if you had lots of questions and requires someone other than the lecturer to be monitoring the questions and facilitating the session. We displayed all of the audience questions on the screen during the Q & A.

How did you find using the tool generally?
It worked fine from the PollEverywhere website. I didn’t manage to embed the tool into my PowerPoint as I was short on time. [You need to download a plug-in to allow you to transfer PollEverywhere to PowerPoint so not possible from an NHS computer.] Remember to make the poll live beforehand to enable to people to actually vote!

What advice would you give to fellow educators considering using voting tools?
I would recommend giving it a go. Keep it simple to start with. We asked a simple question “What type of sport do you participate in?” using the word cloud format. This is useful as a test to see if the poll is working. I am planing to use PollEverywhere to facilitate a True/ False quiz in a big group lecture. Although I am confident in the technology I have also prepared a backup plan (hands up/ stand up if you think true) just in case!


If you would like to use PollEverywhere in your teaching, contact Tim Vincent.

Find out about PollEverywhere and other interactive tools at this page: Interactive tools in the classroom