2022 Innovation in TEL Awards Showcase
The ACODE TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) Showcase is an extension of the ACODE Innovation in TEL Awards, and provides the opportunity for ACODE Member nominees to articulate and disseminate in-practice innovation within the Australasian Higher Education Sector.
Discipline, School, College, Department or University-wide change initiatives designed to raise capabilities in resource development or teaching engagement in the online environment. iLearn Insights is university wide toolset that provides teachers with the ability to query student activity and performance data and then take direct action to engage or re-engage students in learning. iLearn insights has had rapid uptake by teaching staff across the University since its launch in 2018 (refer to supporting document Page 3, Table: iLearn Insights uses)
Latest figures from Session 1, 2022 show that iLearn Insights was used by 581 staff users across 40 departments and in 1,019 units (subjects). Based on data presented to staff, they used the platform to send 333,160 targeted emails to encourage students to engage with the learning or offer support. iLearn Insights users have found that a short, targeted email with clickable links was the most effective way to engage students quickly. On average, in 2022 after receiving a personalised email from iLearn Insights, 95% of students re-engaged with the unit (refer to supporting document Page 3, Chart: Re-engagement with the unit). Macro and micro data points are available to inform teachers of student activity, progress in their unit. Quiz question analysis has also become a popular function that allows teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of each question.
This functionality helps academics to decide whether to retain a question, add additional supporting materials, or update a question depending on the correct, incorrect, or not attempered quiz question status. At a macro level data is being used by academic departments to gain insight student engagement across their suite of units. “iLearn Insights has made a difference in academics’ teaching load allowing unit convenors to focus more on quality teaching. Unit convenors have noticed the difference… I used it for reducing the failure rate of some of core first year unit for Physics & Physics astronomy degrees” Ms. Eun Young Park, an Academic Administrator in Physics and Astronomy “Insight is a great platform that allows me to monitor the level of activities on the forum and identify what works and what doesn't in the postgraduate unit I co-teach with Fred Smith. It has been particularly great to compare how adjustments made in the different offerings have impacted participation”. Dr. Yves-Heng Lim, Lecturer Department of Security Studies and Criminology Enquires have been received from other Australian universities such as ANU, La Trobe and UNE who have expressed interest in adopting the platform.
Learning Analytics with iLearn Insights Shamim Joarder | Learning Analytics, PVC (L&T) | Macquarie University | V03 2 Sustainability - How might this type of innovation be sustained in dynamic financial environments? For example, how can this type of innovation be easily sustained where staff mobility is a risk? How can the innovation be scaled to meet flux in demand or budget? The development of iLearn Insights has been a low-cost solution for Macquarie University as it was implemented and is currently maintained by the applicant in complement to regular work responsibilities. The design of the application has taken future-proofing into account.
The platform is housed on industry standard infrastructure and uses the common scripting language PHP. As such if I moved to a new position in the future, iLearn Insights can be easily maintained by non-technical staff and updates can be done by a suitably experienced PHP programmer. If finances dictated a lower expenditure, then development can be scaled back to maintenance only duties (refer to supporting document Page 4, Sustainability for ‘key benefits’).
The main challenge of iLearn Insights was to achieve acceptance and usage of the platform by Academic staff and Faculty leaders of learning and teaching. This was done by designing and developing iLearn Insights to enhance the work processes that Academics and support staff are required to do in order to undertake their duties. This included replacing manual process with automation and expanding the tool kit with which they can work to monitor students’ activity and progress. As a result, Academics and support staff welcomed iLearn Insights and took to using it with some enthusiasm. The growth in the number of users (refer to supporting document Page 3, Table: iLearn Insights uses) is testimony to its scalability and the modular design of the platform allows further features to be added as demand dictates. The Executive quote below, confirms that iLearn Insights can be adapted to meet new demands, but also that the platform has a solid case for return on investment that has made an important contribution to more efficient business practices and solving problems as they arise. “iLearn insights came to the fore and were critical in assisting us when we were trying to rapidly respond to the situation, during the initial COVID-19 crisis, of students being stuck in China.
During this period iLearn insights assisted Macquarie staff to identify embedded videos and external links in approximately 70 units that needed to be repurposed for use by students isolated in China. iLearn insights were integral in being able to successfully manage this task in 7 days. Not only do I personally recognise the importance of iLearn insights in this endeavour it was also reiterated to me by many impacted stakeholders across the university.” Professor Dominique Parrish, PVC L&T, Macquarie University Learning Analytics with iLearn Insights Shamim Joarder | Learning Analytics, PVC (L&T) | Macquarie University | V03 3 Reproducibility - How can this type of innovation be reproduced, re-adapted or replicated to meet demand (yours or other Universities)? For example, application of creative commons licensing, or submission of Learning Objects as OERs, or an initiative that may scale up to a ‘whole of University’ transformation. The very approach taken to the design, development, and implementation of iLearn Insights has been centered on responsiveness and the ability to create something that could be adaptable and scalable. Specifically, there was an intentional and innovative collection of feature requests from all academics and professional staff which led to the development of solutions to the issues raised. So far, a total of 175 feature requests have been submitted and 70 requests implemented in our production environment in addition to the original core features. As iLearn Insights uses Moodle data, this application can be implemented by any university that uses Moodle as its LMS. The platform can also ingest data from Zoom and Echo360 to allow student activity data from a wide range of platforms to be included in the analysis. Integration of Zoom and Echo360 was a significant development in 2021, which helped many academics to monitor student engagement during blended online learning. Data in standard CSV format files can also be used to import data sets for analysis.
These features allow the
use of a range of external sources to produce cross-platform reports. For example, we have
developed functionality allowing an Academic Standing report that can be downloaded from
the Academic Management Information System (AMIS) and uploaded to iLearn
Insights. This enables the easy and efficient production of reports across platforms including
a student’s learning status in the LMS. This flexibility means that iLearn Insights could be
adapted for use with any other learning applications where data download as CSV is
This project originally focused on reporting for individual units but has since been extended
to department, faculty, and university-level reporting (refer to supporting document Page 4,
Timeline: iLearn Insights development). It is possible to develop a new standard report
template within only about 1 hour along with limited testing time. For example, to create a
new report to display all students who have not completed a specific activity or not viewed a
particular resource - a significant improvement for the purposes of institution-wide scalability and efficiency.