Teaching is as much about understanding as it is about making others understand. A teacher, regardless of how talented and knowledgeable he might be, cannot teach a student if the student is not convinced of the value of what they are learning. In fact, this is the basis for all adult learning. Unless you’re a baby who’s curious about everything it sees and wants to learn about everything, you won’t learn anything new if you don’t see a practical benefit from what you’re about to learn (provided you’re not a philomath who sees learning itself as an end worth spending time and effort on). Thus, understanding students, their needs, and behavioral patterns can help design the entire education delivery process in a manner that makes learning easy and effective. To get a deeper understanding of the way their institution is functioning, educators are increasingly employing learning analytics. Learning analytics helps deans, provosts, and other educational administrators to make decisions for ensuring better student outcomes by gathering and analyzing data and informing key decisions.
What kind of data is analyzed by learning analytics?
Learning analytics gathers data on a granular level to monitor individual students and staff members, while also collecting data that shows the big picture to the institutional administration. The use of learning analytics in higher education helps educators to track the performance, and changes in performance, of individual students across semesters, subjects, teachers, and many other variables. It also helps in tracking student attendance and other individual parameters such as exam scores and assignment submission to assess student engagement level. The data gathered by learning analytics tools can also help identify and assess teachers performing well and seeing maximum engagement. In addition to learning analytics in higher education, educators are now realizing the importance of gathering job market information as well to guide students in choosing better careers. This type of data helps educators understand the trends in the international job market to find out what skills are and aren’t in demand. They can also use the data to identify subjects and courses that will be in high demand in the future.
How does data-driven education benefit students?
Students go for higher education seeking knowledge that would give them the ability to contribute and be valuable to employers in a highly competitive job market. To ensure that they graduate with the skills that would make them highly covetable in the job market, students need to stay engaged and motivated to study until they complete their program. Using learning analytics, educators are able to gauge student performance over time to identify areas in which students are weak and can plan and execute a remedial action. Students not keeping up with the required rate of attendance are also identified using analytics to prompt timely intervention and bring students back on the path towards course completion. Recently, job market analytics tools like Talismatic are helping educators create perfect, job market-ready curriculums so that students are only trained in skills that will be valuable to the current and future job market.
How do educators benefit from data-driven education?
While learning analytics helps students achieve their personal goals of learning the right subjects, completing courses, and getting the job they desire and deserve, the use of data also leads to the achievement of administrative goals. Since students are more likely to stay enrolled in programs till graduation, deans and provosts can boast of higher completion rates. Identifying students who are unable to keep up and helping them do better also helps improve the overall academic results. Higher graduation rates are complemented by higher employment rates since students are trained in the right skills based on job market data. This not only helps in boosting the reputation of an institution but also helps in the consequent rise in year-by-year enrollments.
In addition to helping both educators and the educated, the use of learning analytics in higher education is also helping local businesses get top talent graduating from local institutions such as community colleges, indirectly impacting the local economy. Thus, if you’re an educator who hasn’t yet considered the merits of data-driven education, you should realize that it’s not just you who’s missing out, but also your students and your institution’s long-term sustainability and competitiveness.