Why Learning Analytics is Key for Universities Looking to Improve Their Graduation Rates
By Sanjay Mohan – Senior Manager, IP Led Solutions, Product Engineering Services at Happiest Minds Technologies and Viswanath Subramaniam, Director and Head of Enterprise Platforms at Happiest Minds Technologies
One of the most important goals for universities in North America is to significantly drive up their graduation rates by charting an intuitive and responsive course for students to get to graduation day. The reality, however, is that several campuses across the country paint a very different picture. Retention is a huge concern for universities. As per a Social Market Foundation report, 6% of university students drop out after their first year.
Students typically enroll in a university and take up a course of their choice, but within a few months, they are left wondering if they should go back on that decision. Their academic performance takes a hit and this often has a detrimental effect on the university’s reputation , while leading to huge opportunity costs as well.
Is there anything the universities can do to prevent the occurrence of such a scenario? Is there a way to track student learning behavior to understand where the students are failing and intervene to help them complete the course with the intended success? Learning analytics can go a long way in solving these problems by providing timely insights to academic decision makers. In fact, according to a recent research by ITProPortal, 76 percent of students believe better use of learning analytics could be key to tackling drop-out rates, reducing time to obtaining a degree and helping them achieve better grades.
Students leave footprints along a digital path as they use a library, or engage in a virtual learning environment, or interact with other e-learning applications. Learning analytics is quite simply the process of tapping into this data to improve the learning and teaching experience.
This is different from a Learning Management System (LMS), which typically only records learning events that happen within that system as well as a Learning Record Store (LRS). A learning analytics platform typically contains an LRS, but adds significant reporting and analytics capabilities not typically found in it.
Traditionally, higher educational institutes have been plagued by problems like low course completion rates & finding actionable insights on student success indicators. Institutions have a lot of data from student information systems, declared data and VLE's that can be used for learning analytics.
Based on pre-defined KPI's, a Learning Analytics platform churns out actionable insights, which enables the decision makers to take that result in higher course completion rates for the students and overall in a higher student success rate, among other benefits.
The application of learning analytics isn’t merely restricted to universities, but there is also great applicability in the corporate world
Data from sources like the VLE, the SIS, library systems and students’ own declared data, is accommodated into the learning analytics warehouse, where the heart of the architecture, the learning analytics engine, is located, The engine processes predictive analytics , which leads to action coordinated by the alert and intervention system.. Visualizations of the analytics for decision makers are available in dashboards and a student app also allows students to view their own data and compare it with others.
The key beneficiaries of Learning Analytics at a University
If implemented correctly, these are the key beneficiaries of Learning Analytics within Universities:
• University administrators taking decisions on matters such as marketing and recruitment or efficiency and effectiveness measures.
• Students/learners to reflect on their achievements and patterns of behaviour in relation to others
• Instructors and support teams that plan supporting interventions with individuals and groups
• Groups such as course teams trying to enhance the current courses or develop new curriculum offerings.
Challenges in adopting Learning Analytics at Universities
While Learning Analytics looks like an indispensable tool for the Universities, there are some challenges when it comes to deployment. Most university data is in silos, thus there is a need to first integrate these disparate systems to get the unified flow of data required for analytics. As a result, learning analytics companies with system integration capabilities are a great fit for smooth deployment of a learning analytics platform.
Bridging the learning gap between campuses to corporate houses
The application of learning analytics isn’t merely restricted to universities, but there is also great applicability in the corporate world. As employees in most businesses are expected to rapidly skill and re-skill to meet the demands of an evolving workplace, the importance of corporate learning programs cannot be understated. Learning analytics are incredibly important as they bring in the ability to accurately predict learning behavior of employees and appropriately create customized learning plans.
Learning analytics is quietly revolutionizing the learning experience in classrooms and cubicles across the world. It would be a timely and worthwhile investment for any university or corporate entity alike as it not only helps learners excel like never before, but also ensures compliance with rapidly emerging new compliance frameworks.