Research digital skills training 2021
OnTask pilot at the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education
Dr Steve Leichtweis & Dr Marion Blumenstein, Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education (CLeaR)
Image source: https://www.ontasklearning.org/
Staff from the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education (CLeaR) are engaged in a multi-institutional development and research collaboration to leverage big data to personalise teacher – student feedback and communication. Feedback is critical to improving student’s learning experiences, processes and self-regulation. It is also extremely challenging to scale to a large number of students. Tools like OnTask provide teaching staff with the opportunity to leverage multiple data sources (big data) to improve the course-related experience of students through the delivery of timely and actionable feedback via personalised messages at scale.
OnTask is the latest open source iteration of the Student Relationship and Engagement System (SRES) initially created at the University of Sydney. A second, open source version of SRES was initiated in 2015 as a joint effort between the universities of Sydney, Auckland and Otago supported by a nationally funded project from Ako Aotearoa NZ. In 2017 a larger, multi-institution collaboration was set up with funding from the Australian Office of Learning & Teaching to begin the design and development of OnTask with partner universities in Australia . OnTask is currently being trialled at more than a dozen universities globally and feedback from participating universities is supporting ongoing development of the tool
CLeaR has been contributing to the iterative development, testing and piloting of OnTask as well as researching student and staff feedback on the use of the tool at the University of Auckland. Both OnTask (and SRES v2) are being piloted in several large enrolment undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Science and the Business School. The detailed information about the user experience, functionality, and the institution’s infrastructure requirements is feeding back into its ongoing refinement.. OnTask is currently identified as one of tools to be implemented as part of the University’s recent Digital Strategy and the Student Digital Journey programme towards improving the student experience and optimised learning outcomes.
How OnTask works
OnTask is a learning management agnostic tool developed to work with an institution’s data warehouse infrastructure. Data from various learning and administrative repositories such as Canvas log data, video engagement, assessments, student information systems, electronic textbooks, discussion forums, etc can be uploaded into OnTask. Teachers and educational designers can use the platform to connect large data sets about student engagement with concrete and frequent actions to support their learning. The following graph taken illustrates how it works:
The use of NeCTAR cloud service
Because of the iterative and speedy nature of development and testing required for OnTask, NeCTAR’s cloud resource has been critical for us to easily and quickly provision new versions of the tool in secure environments to support the development, testing and piloting of the tool locally.
CeR staff have been very helpful in training us to understand and leverage the new NeCTAR environment, so that we could effectively self-support and provision our own server environments with minimal assistance. Given the processes that previously existed for the requesting and provisioning of Virtual Machine (VM) servers, the recent introduction of the NeCTAR service at the University of Auckland has fundamentally streamlined that process, and allowed us to focus more on research and development of tools like OnTask, rather than having to spend time on the administrative overheads linked previously with requesting VM infrastructure.
Pardo, A., Bartimote, K., Buckingham Shum, S., Dawson, S., Gao, J., Gašević, D., Leichtweis, S., Liu, D., Martínez-Maldonado, R., Mirriahi, N., Moskal, A., Schulte, J., Siemens, G., Vigentini, L. (2018). OnTask: Delivering Data-Informed, Personalized Learning Support Actions. Journal of Learning Analytics, 5(3).