First and foremost, this was to support students in a timely manner and identify patterns, concerns or student wellbeing issues.Dr Gelareh Roushan, head of the Centre for Fusion Learning Innovation and Excellence
To generate insights into learning platform use and student performance
Bournemouth University is a proponent of technology enhanced learning. It invests in learning innovation and excellence resources to optimise how it uses digital tools to benefit student outcomes. Dr Gelareh Roushan, head of the Centre for Fusion Learning Innovation and Excellence, explains: “We’ve always been in this mindset of debating what we need, where the gaps are in the skills and capabilities of our staff and students, and how we can close those gaps at the pedagogical level but also at the technical skills level as well.”
The university has a digital pedagogical framework, which it developed in response to student feedback. This sets a baseline for learning design, the sharing of material through the virtual learning environment, student engagement and assessment, and for pedagogical approaches in the classroom.
The framework defines, for example, how to design a learning unit starting with the unit’s aims and intended learning outcomes, covering its workflow, progressive structure, customised learning experiences and more.
In 2022, the university’s Centre for Fusion Learning Innovation and Excellence set about incorporating data analytics into the framework. The team wanted to enhance its digital approach to give it a better understanding of Brightspace use and students’ progress through their studies.
“For us, it was key to have an integrated system that had an individual student view of how they are progressing and performing so that personal tutors could have relevant discussions with them,” adds Dr Roushan.
Analytics from Brightspace and integrated tools
The team set about understanding the analytics capabilities of Brightspace, as well as its capability to integrate other tools for a complete, comprehensive picture of learning activities and outcomes.
Tim Galling, technology enhanced learning development manager, found he could integrate attendance monitoring functionality and other analytics. This would give tutors reports on student attendance at lectures and timely information on students’ progress.
Training was made available to us and the community space where we could raise questions and speak to other customers. We shared our approaches with other universities, and they shared with us. It opened our eyes as to where we could goTim Galling, technology enhanced learning development manager
The team also implemented unit readiness reporting, as Tim explains: “The report looks across all of a department’s units and checks whether they’ve got the right staff enrolled, that they’ve uploaded documents or HTML pages in the places that the structure requires, and have completed other tasks like posting a welcome announcement to students. The faculties can use this to make sure their units have a level of consistency.”
Additionally, the team put in place student engagement and grades achievement measures. This information is valuable to many stakeholders—tutors, who can act on it to improve learning outcomes, the university as a whole, which gains insights into progress and results, and students, who benefit from a better understanding of how they are doing.
Actionable insights from data analytics and reporting
Bournemouth University now has a more in-depth understanding of student progress and where it can make changes to optimise results, thanks to advanced analytics.
One area this has helped with is identifying course units that could use Brightspace features and functionality, such as discussion boards, better or more. “We could see a gap in the learning and were able to go in and do some targeted training,” explains Tracey Webb, learning technology team manager. “We actually ended up putting a couple of discussion forums onto all units with full instructions for students, to help people use the tool.”
From the data, the university now has insight into levels of student engagement with the learning platform and uses this information to support early intervention by tutors where this is needed as Dr Roushan explains: “If a student hasn’t looked at the content or opened an assessment brief, it can prompt a conversation to ask, ‘are you OK, are you finding your way?’”
Staff are asked to monitor certain situations. In the past, they’ve had to speak to lots of people and go into lots of individual units in Brightspace. Now, they can better manage their time and focus their efforts by looking at these reports.Tim Galling, technology enhanced learning development manager
Throughout, the team has drawn on the expertise and support of D2L and the community, which responded by sharing best practice and insights so Bournemouth University could bring the requisite skills into the team to build the desired reports.
Bournemouth University set out to use the monitoring and reporting capabilities of Brightspace in support of the aims of its digital pedagogical framework. By drawing on support, including from the Brightspace community, it has generated insights to help the university support students and staff, and improve consistency in the learning experience.
Discover Brightspace for higher education, visit d2l.com/en-mea/higher-education.