The trend to greater adoption of online learning in higher education institutions means an increased opportunity for instructors and administrators to monitor student activity and interaction with the course content and peers. This paper demonstrates how the analysis of data captured from various IT systems could be used to inform decision making process for university management and administration. It does so by providing details of a large research project designed to identify the range of applications for LMS derived data for informing strategic decision makers and teaching staff. The visualisation of online student engagement/effort is shown to afford instructors with early opportunities for providing additional student learning assistance and intervention – when and where it is required. The capacity to establish early indicators of ‘at-risk’ students provides timely opportunities for instructors to re-direct or add resources to facilitate progression towards optimal patterns of learning behaviour. The project findings provide new insights into student learning that complement the existing array of evaluative methodologies, including formal evaluations of teaching. Thus the project provides a platform for further investigation into new suites of diagnostic tools that can, in turn, provide new opportunities to inform continuous, sustained improvement of pedagogical practice.
Dawson, S. P., McWilliam, E. & Tan, J. (2008). Teaching smarter: how mining ICT data can inform and improve learning and teaching practice. Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (pp. 221-230). Melbourne, Australia: Deakin University.