Making sense of analytics for learning


As big data captures the hearts, minds and souls of everybody engrossed in the smorgasbord of delights on the internet, the education community is enthralled to a new and related trend, learning analytics.  Whilst this offers new insights into the factors determining success and failure on an academic course, have we missed the point ? How can analytics be used to support the learner and the learning process ?

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Introducing online portfolio-based applications to higher education courses

How can Universities, and other education providers, make better selection decisions on course applicants? In 2015 a record number of 592,000 applications were made, representing a 2% increase on the previous year (The Telegraph, 2015). At the same time, Universities are under enormous pressure to improve graduate employment statistics to demonstrate serious student investment through tuition fees. As Edward Peck, Nottingham Trent University, states “…if we are saying to students that coming to university will improve your job prospects, then we have to deliver that.”

Could a portfolio-based application system be the answer for visual arts subjects ?

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A fresh perspective on HE teaching

A mock analysis of possible TEF scores, released by THE [1], suggests a long awaited new perspective on teaching in UK HEIs. The dominance of research-intensive universities in league tables over the previous decade, and more, has largely mis-represented the quality of teaching across many of the smaller, campus-based institutions. Soon we will begin to see a new picture emerging of the standard of teaching across the UK, allowing prospective students to make better study choices, and challenging many universities to seriously invest time, resource and imagination into undergraduate and postgraduate education.

As with any new initiative, it will take time for an accurate picture to emerge. However, three key questions confront all involved:

  1. what do we mean by ‘teaching excellence’ ?
  2. how do we measure ‘teaching excellence’ ?
  3. do we need to change our current teaching practices ?


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How do we help our students to be ‘Future Ready’ ?


How do we design our educational programmes to help our students have the skills and experiences to meet future workplace needs ?

This one day symposium, organised by JISC and PebblePad, sought to bring together UK professionals from Further Education, Higher Education, professional bodies and industry, to help answer this question. It featured presentations, break-out activities, and much time for deeper discussions.

Of the many issues discussed, I have summarised my top four take away messages from the day.

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