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Swinburne Online uses data to help students excel

University students need support in order to succeed, and the advent of online learning has made it easier to analyse student study patterns to help them achieve tertiary goals.

Swinburne is one of the few universities capturing in depth engagement data for their online students to help with the learning process.

Since the beginning of 2013, Swinburne Online has been piloting a program to help motivate and further engage online students based on results from the data collected. So far, student feedback has been positive and plans to make the program available to all students are underway.

‘Most of the data that we look at is the student’s interaction in the online study portal, where we can see the days and times that students log on, how long they spend in there and what they do,’ says Swinburne Online Analytics Manager, Sacha Nouwens.

This has given Swinburne Online more data on student progression as the online portal is the central point for students’ study. This dynamic information is being used to offer more support to students.

‘When students first start studying with Swinburne Online, we want to make sure they get all the support they need to succeed. And we want to be able to identify the students that might need an extra helping hand as we plan to try different interventions for students that might be finding study difficult,’ says Ms Nouwens.

‘We don’t know everything about our students, but we can get a fairly good idea of their study patterns whilst they are online.’

Swinburne Online have been sharing this data with their students, providing them with a snapshot of their online interactions in comparison with their peers. The main aim of the project is to help motivate students to further engage in study more regularly.

Collaboration and discussion already underpin Swinburne Online’s teaching pedagogy. The data only reinforces that higher online interaction rates result in more successful outcomes for students.

It is hoped that this new program will help inspire students to get more involved with the online community. Students that have participated in the pilot have so far been complimentary of the new program.

‘Feedback from students has been mostly positive and of the students surveyed over 80 per cent agreed that it had some impact on how often they study,’ Ms Nouwens says.

The program is planned to be rolled out to all students by the end of the year. Once in effect, Swinburne Online will continue to monitor the impact of this program and seek the views of their students to ensure it continues to support and motivate its online community.

Swinburne Online already employ a team of Students Liaison Officers available seven days a week to provide students with administrative and academic support. This new program will only further add to the already strong support systems on offer to its student population.