Research into Practice?

Picking up on So I was Wrong… Someone Does Look at the Webstats…, and the second part of the title of Martin Weller’s blogpost that prompted it — (Learning design – the long haul of institutional change), the question: how do we shorten the feedback loop so data can be used by course teams?

IET are a research wing who do their own thing for academic research credit and also contribute to internal innovation and change. (UPDATE: or not.. see @R3beccaF’s comment…) The research I referred to in the previous post drew on institutionally sourced data that looked like it required some sort of project in place in order to have it collected and is not something (I think) I have direct access to.

I get the need for research and folk to do stats and etc etc, but I also believe that folk with an interest can use often quite scruffy data to provide anecdotal evidence about what’s working and what isn’t (the “first draft” of more formal research perhaps?).

So for example, I’ve been interested (casually) in this for years but never done more than play around the edges, but not as much as I’d have liked. I’ve only ever managed to get access to reasonable granularity page level tracking data several years ago when I managed to persuade someone to pop a Google Tracking code I had access to the dashboard for onto a set of course pages for a course I was sole author on. More recently, I’ve struggled to find many VLE stats on course pages I am still involved with (maybe I should check again; it’s been a while…).

On the other hand, I have a modicum of data skills, data storytelling / exploratory analysis skills, and end user app developer skills. And I’m interested in rapidly prototyping tools that may help make the data useful.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

3 thoughts on “Research into Practice?”

  1. “IET are a research wing who do their own thing for academic research credit”. I wish. IET has a 60% teaching / 40% research balance. We run the Masters in Online and Distance Education, including a 60-credit module that went live on FutureLearn this week. We organise academic professional development across the University, and we’re responsible for ensuring that staff get HEA Fellowship. Guided by the faculties, we’ve been producing data wrangler reports for many years (which is what Bart’s work is grounded in). We run the quality enhancement programme, with its reports and seminars. We get pulled in to work on lots of VCE’s plans, whether or not those finally run into the sand. Before H880 had to be rewritten for FutureLearn, it was piloting agile ways of working, and Microsoft Teams, and OpenCreate. When it comes to research, our work is mainly aligned with the same four visions as it has been for many years, all of which are strongly related to the needs and interests of the OU – we’re researching and developing technology to ensure that: learning is accessible for everyone, teaching is adapted to meet learners’ needs teams can successfully each any numbers of students at a distance, and learners engage enthusiastically with science learning.

    1. I guess also I was trying to make the point that IET folk are motivated to writing up the work they do in academic educational research journals. Whereas I generally just dump stuff into blogs posts…

      I’m also motivated to capturing recipes for getting started with tech that is very much under development and subject to change, for a handful of reasons: 1) trying to get something working is a great way of finding out how hard it is to get it working, if it works at all. On a funnel model basis, this can also be a weak indicator as to how many other folk are likely to be willing, or able, to try it out; 2) you get a feel after a while for whether new stuff is new, or just more of the same, as well as whether it may have legs; 3) stuff under development can suffer from lack of docs and lack of opportunities to explore how the tech may be appropriated and used in ways not originally intended by the developers (which may end up being a guide, or even steer, for how the thing does develop). Writing quick start recipes helps others get stuff working in absence of docs/presence of gotchas which in turn widens the funnel.

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