Archive for category Teaching

FutureLearn: ten wishes

With the first run of H880 Technology-enhanced Learning: Foundations and Futures near the middle of its first run, I visited the FutureLearn offices to talk to staff about what is working well and about changes I would like to see in the future. My suggestions were based on the experiences of both staff and students. This was an internal presentation, so I won’t share it here, just the high-level  summaries of the ten wishes.

Ten wishes: increased accessibility, cross-course study groups, upload facilities, social group for all students, Notes tool, appropriate analytics, updated portfolio tool, interventions, search facility, and emojis.


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Learning Analytics Summer Institute

Tweet about the tutorialEvery year, the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) runs a Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI) in North America, often alongside related LASI events around the world. I’ve attended LASI events in Spain, Norway, and the UK in different years. This year, I’m at the main event, held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It’s one of the biggest LASI events ever, with almost 140 people here for tutorials and workshops related to learning analytics. I’m here running a couple of tutorials about qualitative approaches to learning analytics.

Qualitative approaches to learning analytics

Learning analytics is a field concerned with ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts’. This implies a quantitative approach. However, it has become increasingly clear that ‘understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs’ also requires qualitative approaches.

Qualitative approaches can be used to understand why learners and teachers act as they do, to explain their decisions, to explore the importance of context for learning analytics, and to increase the value of learning analytics tools and methods.

This tutorial is intended for participants who have little experience of qualitative research and would like to explore how it can be used in the context of learning analytics.

When you have successfully completed this tutorial, you will have developed your ability to:

  • decide when and why to use qualitative approaches in learning analytics research
  • design a qualitative research study
  • analyse qualitative data
  • establish the trustworthiness of qualitative research.
Group pictures taken at LASI

LASI workshop leads (top) and other attendees


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OU quals on FutureLearn

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 14.15.22Another opportunity to talk to OU practitioners about the experience of putting an OU qualification on FutureLearn. This time the event was organised by the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Faculty at The Open University and was the annual meeting of their Taught Postgraduate Group.

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Leverhulme writing camp 2019

IMG_9030.jpgApril, and one of my favourite annual events – the Leverhulme Writing Camp.

The doctoral students on the Open World Learning programme funded by Leverhulme, together with their supervisor, spend a week in the Peak District, writing and researching, discussing and community building.

The OWL funding covers three cohorts of six students. The newest students are now coming to the end of their second year – the first cohort are gradually spreading out internationally as they complete their studies and start work.

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OU qualifications on FutureLearn

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 13.24.43The OU runs a series of lunchtime seminars on quality enhancement (QELS) each month. It’s an opportunity for practitioners across the university to share their practice with others. I presented in April 2019 about the experience of launching the Postgraduate Certificate in Open and Distance Education (PGCert ODE) on FutureLearn.


In February 2019, The Open University launched its first full qualification on FutureLearn. The new module H880: TEL Foundations and Futures provides successful completers with the 60 credits necessary to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education. The module team has been the first in the University to grapple with the problems of moving from Moodle to FutureLearn, including the different ways of doing things at the OU and at FutureLearn. We were determined that the move would bring benefits to our students, and that H880 tutors would be happy with the move. In this seminar, Rebecca will talk about the process of adapting a module to FutureLearn, the benefits of the move, and the challenges that still need to be addressed.

If you have an OU staff log-in, you can access a video of this talk via the QELS Intranet site.

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H880: first OU ‘degree’ on FutureLearn

H880 Technology-enhanced learning foundations and futures, the postgraduate module I’m chairing, went live on FutureLearn on Monday 4 February 2019. The module uses conversational learning, so students can benefit from studying as a diverse group from around the world.

We’re also taking the opportunity to include as much openness as we can in the module. Most of the resources we use are openly available, so students can make use of them in their own practice. We’re giving four weeks of the module a non-commercial creative commons licence. Once again, the aim is that students can take and rework the material to suit their own context.

We’ve also included an openly accessible MOOC, The Online Educator, as part of the study materials. H880 students will take part in this short MOOC alongside its other learners, benefiting from their perspectives, and also having opportunities to reflect on the distinctions between formal/formal, open/paid learning.

You can keep up with H880 via our Community blog, or our Twitter account. The Online Educator MOOC runs on FutureLearn several times a year. Join us on any run of the MOOC as a taster of some of the H880 material, or join the March presentation to study alongside the H880 cohort.

And, of course, it would be great if you joined us as a student on H880. It’s a 60-credit postgraduate module, and successful completion will earn you a Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education (PGCert ODE). There’s an introductory video here.

H880 start

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Learning analytics in Venice

Univeristy in VeniceI was invited by Paula de Waal to talk about learning analytics to academic staff and postgraduate students in the Department of Philosophy and Education at University of Ca’Foscari in Venice.


Learning analytics have the potential to help us to identify and make sense of patterns in educational data in order to enhance our teaching, our learning, and the student experience. Since emerging as a distinct field in 2011, learning analytics has grown rapidly. Institutions around the world are already developing and deploying these new tools. In order to use analytics effectively, teachers need to take time to reflect on their aims and relevant skillsets. What does enhancement mean in different contexts, and how can analytics be used to help achieve that goal? In order to use these tools effectively, one of the things we need to do is to look into the future and consider the changes on the horizon. In her talk, Rebecca will talk about current developments in learning analytics. She will also introduce ‘Analytics in Action’ – a framework that can be used to introduce analytics to support enhancement – and will consider its implications from a teaching perspective.

Programme (Italian)

Nuovi orizzonti della ricerca pedagogica: evidence-based learning e learning analytics Giornata di studi

22 Novembre dalle 9.30 alle 13.00, Palazzo Malcanton Marcorà – Aula Valent

Ore 9.30 Apertura dei lavori
Coordina: M. Costa (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Ore 9.40 Nuovi orizzonti della ricerca pedagogica
U. Margiotta (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Ore 10.00 Il contributo delle tecniche di Learning Analytics ai settori del Learning Design e dell’autoregolazione dell’apprendimento.
D. Persico (CNR-Genova)

Ore 11.00 Learning Analytics futures: a teaching perspective
Guest speaker: R. Ferguson (Open University UK)
Discute: P. de Waal (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Ore 13.00 Chiusura dei lavori



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