Wales’ eight regulated higher education institutions have agreed to collaborate with Jisc to use learning analytics to improve student support and learner outcomes.
The Learning Analytics Cymru project was made possible by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales' (HEFCW's) agreement to provide up to £266,000 to co-fund the three-year initiative, which allows learners, teachers, institutions and Wales as a nation to analyse and respond to the data.
Jisc’s learning analytics service uses nudge techniques via an app to present data to students, allowing them to assume greater ownership of their own success. The same underlying data is presented to lecturers and tutors via dashboards, allowing greater insight into groups’ and individual learner’s strengths and weaknesses and support targeted support where students need it most.
At an institutional level, such techniques can: help improve non-continuation rates; support greater success among non-traditional cohorts, in line with widening access priorities; and play a role in students’ general wellbeing.
Learning Analytics Cymru will take this one step further, to a national level for the first time, providing shared expertise and anonymised insights across the whole of Wales. In a globally competitive higher education (HE) sector, these insights may help Wales maintain and grow its strong reputation, giving a further edge over other nations – other UK nations already have begun to take note of this initiative.
The core of the programme is a supported, co-funded implementation of the Jisc learning analytics service for Welsh eight HE institutions - and regulated FE institutions in Wales have the option to participate. It builds on the success of HEFCW’s ten year enhancing learning and teaching through technology strategy that championed the flexible and innovative use of technology enabled learning in higher education across Wales.
Alyson Nicholson, head of Jisc Wales, said:
“Higher education institutions in Wales have a strong tradition of working together on innovative approaches aimed at improving learning outcomes and the student experience. We are looking forward to working with the sector so that they can make the most of the data they collect to ensure that all students receive the support they need to succeed.”
Dr David Blaney, chief executive of HEFCW, said:
“We are pleased that our partners at Jisc have been working with their members in higher education since 2014 on how to interrogate and analyse data effectively to inform future strategies. This not only provides a better experience for students, it also helps institutions to maintain their competitive edge.
“Student data collected by universities and colleges has huge potential to help tackle big issues such as improving learner retention, boosting attainment and providing a high quality learning experience. The pace of adoption in this pan-Wales project will be accelerated by communities sharing good practice, making us the most advanced UK nation in this area.”
Gwyneth Sweatman, NUS Wales president, said:
“Going to university is - without exception - a transformational experience, and everyone should be able to benefit from that experience no matter what their background. Importantly, however, it’s not just about getting in. It’s also about getting on. That’s not only good for students, but also for universities, for communities, and for the whole of Wales. I’m looking forward to seeing how providers work with Jisc to ensure that every citizen of Wales is able to have the life-changing opportunity of a university education, if that is the right path for them.”