From education to employment

‘Don’t call us lazy!’ Students call for activity tracking apps to be let loose on the education sector

85% of FE students think an activity tracking app for learning and teaching would be helpful, finds a new survey by Jisc, the digital services and solutions organisation for UK education and research. Further findings show that 80% of FE students would be happy to have their learning data collected if it improved their grades, and more than half would be happy to have their learning data collected if it stopped them from dropping out.

These findings are unsurprising, as the survey also found that 99% of FE students think that technology is becoming increasingly important in education. A further 76% of FE students surveyed who think technology is becoming increasingly important – think so because it makes life more efficient.

It’s no secret that sales of activity tracking apps and wearables have boomed, with The Telegraph reporting that over three million fitness trackers flying off the shelves in the UK each year. From monitoring our fitness and sleep and even our mental reflexes, self-improvement is officially the name of the game.

With FE students shouting out for the education sector to embrace both technology and the self-improvement movement, it seems that it’s high time for learning analytics to take centre stage.

This year, Jisc will be releasing a learning analytics student app, so that students will be able to see how their learning activity compares with others and set targets to do better in their courses. This will not only benefit students, but staff members too, who will be able to view a dashboard showing the learner engagement and attainment of their students, allowing them to better target students who might be struggling with the course, and prevent drop-outs too. The app will also help staff members to better understand how to make learning more effective.

Paul McKean, Head of FE and skills at Jisc said: ‘It’s great to see that students are as motivated about the creation of an app to improve their learning experience as we are. The app allows students to set their own goals and monitor progress, and with such apps becoming commonplace in other sectors, it’s time that education reaped the benefits of such technology too.  At Jisc we believe that digital has the power to transform and revolutionise education, and our work with learning analytics is an important step in the right direction’

To support the use of data and analytics, Jisc is working with 50 universities to set up the world’s first national learning analytics service. This system is being developed to include bought-in learning analytics technologies, and Jisc developed solutions. The service will be underpinned by Jisc’s code of practice, which sets out the responsibilities of organisations to ensure that learning analytics is carried out responsibly, appropriately and effectively.

To get up to speed on learning analytics, you can read Jisc’s Code of practice for learning analytics, and Quick guide: Understanding your data.

Jisc celebrated the power of digital in education at the annual Digital Festival, from 14-15 March at the ICC in Birmingham.

About Jisc:

Jisc is the UK higher, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions. We:

  • operate shared digital infrastructure and services
  • negotiate sector-wide deals with IT vendors and commercial publishers, and 
  • provide trusted advice and practical assistance for universities, colleges and learning providers.

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