Enhancing the classroom learning experience through Learning Analytics
Currently, a teachers’ decision making process on how to serve students best is blurred as they cannot effectively determine each student’s individual needs, interests and capabilities in learning in a classroom.
One of the most exciting innovations in the education sector that can assist teachers in making informed decisions regarding how to help each student achieve their true potential is learning analytics.
When students are introduced to a new concept, they have different knowledge levels resulting from previous sessions. The problem sets in when the same curriculum in the form of a course book is used to administer learning to every student without knowing their particular needs. As a result, when the learners are examined and the results collected, getting a clear picture into a student’s understanding of the concepts taught will not be complete.
The main aim of learning analytics is enabling teachers to understand the learning level and ability of each student so that they can tailor their approach. Learning analytics serves a specific role for teachers; helping them identify particular needs of each student much quicker to facilitate the process of making informed decisions regarding how to help them in the most effective way.
At the moment, some common information is collected about every single student, such as attendance, grades, interaction with physical resources in school, relationship with fellow students, teachers and administrators among others. However, we are not able to utilize the gathered data to identify how fast the students are learning, how effective the teaching methods are as per the needs of each student, how learning materials can be allocated to each student appropriately, how the learning gaps of each student vary from others and so on because we don’t have the necessary or appropriate tools to do so.
This is where technology can have a significant impact in learning analytics comes. Learning platforms can help teachers gauge the learning levels of each student and even their learning styles. As a result, they will be able to take remedial action to help the student and assign appropriate learning materials.
Teachers have always collected data in the form of test scores and exam results to know how students are progressing academically. However, it is virtually impossible for a teacher to collect detailed data, analyze it and identify trends in the learning patterns of students. Application of technology makes it possible to come up with appropriate analytics tools that are tailored to meet the needs of any teacher. These tools automates much of the work that teachers have to do enabling them to spend less time in administrative activities and more on improving student learning experiences.
Over the years, teachers together with administrators have kept track of the educational outcomes as well as behaviors of their students using attendance records, observations, scores, grades, etc. Analytical tools can combine this wealth of information along with a student’s daily academic activity and help inform teachers about the trends in student learning and help plug any learning gaps quickly. These tools can highlight specific areas that are difficult for a student, helping the teacher to quickly provide remedial steps. Teachers can even easily identify what learning material would help the student best based on their learning styles.
Further, technology tools can use analysis to help identify teachers who are good at teaching certain topics. Schools can then assign their best teachers to teach all students for these topics ensuring that students get the best from each educator.
Analytics can provide us with invaluable insights into different factors that influence the success of students regarding attendance, login frequency, time spent on task, contact frequency with teachers or faculty members, etc. With the traditional methods, it was virtually impossible for a teacher to find out when a student did their work, how frequently they logged into the system, what a student’s learning style was and so on.
Learning analytics is a foundation for making informed changes in the education system; i.e., altering how teachers and administrators create the curriculum, its delivery, assessment of students’ learning, offering learning support and allocating resources. However, analytics shouldn’t be seen as something that takes over the teaching experience. This is because analytical tools won’t capture the detailed aspects of classroom experience, like discovery of new interests, motivation or community engagement. Instead, analytics only plays a specific role: assisting teachers to identify the needs of students more quickly so they can make informed decisions that will enrich the learning process and make it more effective