The field of learning analytics has come under increasing focus in higher education, in particular for its potential role in informing and supporting student success initiatives. While the potential value of learning data is now well recognised, tapping into this potential requires staff and students in higher education to be proficient in data literacy. The National Forum Review of Existing HE Policy Landscape for Digital Teaching and Learning in Ireland states that one of the areas of particular significance for policy development within digital teaching and learning is students’ digital footprint (p2).
The overall aim of the Daltaí project was to increase digital proficiencies amongst staff and students, to enable them to effectively access, interpret and utilise learning data with the ultimate goal of promoting student success. We plan to develop a roadmap for continuous professional development relevant to teaching and learning in a digital world that supports engagement with meaningful insights into the quality of student engagement arising from student success initiatives. This will ultimately support student-facing staff develop and evaluate evidence-based student success initiatives, and support the student in self-regulating their own learning. On an individual level, this project aims to up skill staff and students by increasing their awareness of, and their ability to make greater use of, their own digital footprint. In the broader institutional context, it was envisaged that this could potentially facilitate the more widespread adoption of evidence based decisions that support student success initiatives.
Specifically, the Daltaí objectives were to
- review and identify the professional development needs of higher education staff with regard to learning analytics skills; and
- develop open access professional development resources that scaffold and enable staff and students to interpret learning analytics outputs.
To realise our first objective, we carried out a mixed methods evaluative study using semi-structured focus groups and online survey tools to gain an insight into staff and students’ perspectives, knowledge, skills and needs related to learning analytics. Both were adapted from the SHEILA framework protocols with additional topics added relating to training needs. Using this data, we propose developing an evidenced based strategy and implementation plan to address the identified skills gaps and professional development requirements of higher education staff and students in this area.
Recognising the key work of the National Forum for Teaching and Learning in supporting the professional development of those who teach across the higher education sector, Daltaí closely aligns with all five domains in their Professional Development Framework.