UNICON Learning Analytics Webinar

I attended this webinar today because I have a great interest in learning analytics, specifically with the integration of co-curricular data with respect to intervention strategies.  It was great, glad that I attended!  These folks will be at the EDUCAUSE conference in October, I’ll be attending some of their presentations :-)


  • Lou Harrison from ncsu.edu
  • Josh Baron from marist.edu
  • Kate Valenti from unicon.net

Historical Context:  OAAI Overview (Open Academic Analytics Initiative)

  • EDUCAUSE Next Generation Learning Challenges (aka NGLC)
  • Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • $250K over 15 months
  • Goal:  leverage big data to create an open-source academic early alert system and research “scaling factors”

Basic Flow

  1. Feed in Student Aptitudes: (i.e. SATs, current GPA, etc.), demographic data (i.e. age, gender, etc.)
  2. Feed in LMS data:  Sakai Event Log and Gradebook data
  3. Fed into predictive scoring model
  4. Fed into Academic Alert system (AAR)
  5. Intervention deployed (to students & instructors)

Review of research design (I didn’t capture all this)

  • Deployed to 2,200 students across 4 institutions


  • Predicitve models are more “portable” than anticipated
  • It’s possible to create generic models that are then “tuned” to use at specific types of institutions
  • It’s possible to create a library of open predictive models that could be shared globally

Findings on Intervention Effectiveness

  • Final course grades had a statistically significant positive impact on final corse grades

Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative Update

  • Like the Apache foundation
  • Serves higher education
  • Other projects:  Learning Analytics Processor (LAP), OpenDashboard, Larrisa, Student Success Plan (SSP)
  • Modular System:  Collection > Storage > Analysis > Communication > Action
  • Just got started with JISC National Learning Analytics Project (UK org)

Moving Toward Enterprise Learning Analytics at NC State

How we’re getting there
  • Lunch and learn sessions on LA space
  • Bring people up to speed on what questions to ask
  • Start thinking about who can generate answers


  • Many products vendors try to sell us are NOT predictive!
  • We built a plan to build us a model, and then we validated it

Predictive Power

  • Gradebook
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Academic Standing
  • Then:  course logins, content access, online flag…

Model Results

  • Overall Accuracy:  75-77%
  • Recall rates 88-90%
  • False positives were a little high at 25-26%

Proof to Production

  • Initial steps:  small sample sizes
  • Predictions at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 points in course
  • Multi-step, manual process

Goal 1:  More Enterprise-y

  • Large sample sizes (all student enrollments)
  • Frequent early runs (maybe daily)
  • Automatic, no more than 1 click

Currently in Progress

  • Rebuild infrastructure for scale
  • Daily snapshots of fall semester data
  • After fall semester ends, look for sweet spot

Future Goals

  • Refine model more
  • Segment model by pops
  • Balance models and accuracy
  • Refine & improve models over time
  • Explore ways to track efficacy over time
  • Once we intervene, can never go back to virgin state

Teaching with Tools of Engagement: Polls, Gamification, Badges, Leaderboards, Ohmage & Participatory Sensing


  • Rose Rocchio, Director of IT, UCLA
  • Rob Gould, Professor, UCLA

Web resources:

The classroom landscape is changing!  Technology can be leveraged in many different ways…about 80% of students have smart phones.  Engagement tools are really permeating the marketplace due to the ubiquity of mobile devices.  Today we’re going to look at ways some technological tools are impacting classroom engagement and provide a couple demonstrations of projects that are being done by UCLA and UC Berkeley.

When Analytics Meet Gamification:  The Pedagogy

Gamification provides reciprocal validation.  There is a content “gallery” that is used to share a collection of images for a course.  There is a points configuration tool for instructors that provides a way to assign points for adding to this gallery, i.e. (give a comment=5 points, get a comment=3 points, give a +1=1 point, etc.).  These points are aggregated into a leaderboard.  Professors provide weekly “missions” for students to complete, i.e. a lesson plan.


  • No correlation between total Engagement Index and final exam
  • No correlation between mission points and final exam
  • Strong correlation between mission completion and final exam

Rob Gould:  Our Collaboration with LAUSD

  • Using mobile app for engagement in the LAUSD
  • Part of NSF umbrella project called “Mobilize”
  • Partnership between several UCLA departments (statistics, CS, Center X, Graduate School of Education and INformation Science and LAUSD
  • Create and implement data science curricula in high school to enhance STEM learning


  • Exploring CS (3 week unit)
  • Algebra 1 (3 2-week units)
  • Biology (3 week unit)
  • Introduction to data science:  year-long course

The Introduction to Data Science created an alternative pathway through high school mathematics.

  • Traditional:  Algebra 1 > Geometry > Algebra 2 > PreCalculus
  • Alternative:  Algebra1 > CS/Geometry > IDS > Statistics

Introduction to Data Science

  • Professional Data
  • “Big data” > I prefer “Everyday data”

This creates a bridge of “participatory sensing” leading to statistical and computational thinking.  This idea is gradually gaining traction, because student can now collect data everywhere they go with their mobile devices.

Some PS Campaigns

  • Measuring snacks:  measure what you’re eating (cost, when, who you were with, how did you feel when you were eating it, etc.)
  • Stress / chill moments:  measure how you feel at certain points of the day
  • Design their own

A dashboard view provides students with additional visibility about the data that they’re collecting.


Build Your Own Open Source App Store, Join the CASA!


  • Rose Rocchio, UCLA


CASA = App Discovery / Curation / Publishing

  • We started with iTunesU about 10 years ago.  That was pretty configurable initially, but eventually Apple decided to create its own categories that weren’t strictly compatible with the way we wanted to do things.  This got us started on CASA.
  • A key element is classification of content on the publisher’s terms
  • “Networks are better than the hub-and-spoke model”
  • Extensibility of attributes; continue to define useful attributes
  • Compliance registry coming soon at IMS Global
  • Continued tight integration with all IMS Global Standards

USE CASE:  Mobile/Web Portal Strategy and Personalization

Rose gave a quick demo of the mobile interface, showing how users can set up the mobile dashboard to organized the apps they want to see.  The point of this was to show that the apps that can be added come from a variety of curated resources across the UC system.

CASA  uses Caliper Analytics.  The team created sensors that sense how apps spread through the network, how apps are found and viewed, and when apps are added to storefronts and courses (this sounds pretty useful to me).  These sensors can help describe how popular apps are, i.e. how much they’re downloaded and used.  Rose then showed a dashboard that demonstrated how it works.

Student Benefits:  transparent, allows focus on class interaction & study; personal info is secure with trusted apps; improved course experience

CASA Roadmap

  • Working to get IMS Global CASA node registry in place
  • Define the compliance checklist process
  • Define a CASA attribute for CALIPER Metric Profiles
  • Define a plan for app referrals
  • Discuss Rating attributes and confidence levels
  • App Curation



Finding the Power, Finding the Point: Using Technology for Engagement & Retention

Presenter:  Mike Robertson, IsThisMikeOn?

One of Mike’s favorite quotes is:  “Life is a Banquet, and Most Poor Suckers are Starving to Death”

Technology is ubiquitous, it’s the first thing and last things most of us touch every single day.  We often treat tech like a light switch or a button that’s either on or off.  However, it’s a tool.  A tool is something we can use to make our lives better!  Tech can bring light, yes…but it can also bring enlightenment.

Edison invented the motion picture, but didn’t see the value of it.  Hollywood exists because people didn’t want to pay Edison royalties for using his technology.

Mark Twain:  “the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”

We’re in the business of transmitting enlightenment.  Presentation is supremely important:  PowerPoint is an unfortunate software title.  Most presentations don’t stick or engage because most of them have no power and no point!  Your presentations should be used to convey deep meaning and be beautiful.

Get with the program!

  • Delve into your presentation program and learn everything about it
  • Try setting animation and transition effects at their longest intervals to make slides memorable
  • Use good fonts, NOT ALL OF THEM.  Fonts should support the meaning you’re trying to convey.
  • All caps is good for just a few words; lower case is easier to interpret
  • Never use all caps with a script or calligraphy font
  • Bump up the contrast
  • Shared a type masking technique
  • Backgrounds:  do Google search for textures, i.e. rust, cork, moss, aluminum, concrete, wood, etc.  Example:  felt background with billiard balls as bullets.  This is memorable!
  • Use layers creatively
  • Use frames to highlight important things and focus attention (TCM billboard, yellow bricks for a Wizard of Oz presentation, M&Ms, add link to your web site, etc.)
  • Make your slides work for you

The Really Cool Stuff

  • Animation with .gif files:  changing backgrounds
  • Monty Python pointing finger
  • Stand in a white circle on a black background as a spotlight
  • Smack the screen and use letter dropping animation (timing is important!) to simulate physical interaction with your slides
  • Play with color saturation

QUOTE:  don’t show your audience a wall of text, show them a brick and teach them to build a wall

Make your slides echo your voice.


On the Horizon: Trends, Challenges & Emerging Technologies in Higher Education

This is my first post from the CSUN 2015 Annual Technology Fair, held on Thursday, May 28 in the Grand Salon in the CSUN University Student Union

Introduction by Hilary Baker, CIO at CSUN

Hilary’s introduction to the event was followed by a video of the AppJam competition recently held at CSUN (tag line:  “Think Fast, Win Big”).  There were two competition categories: Student Finances, the winner of which was uCarpool.  uCarpool is an app that matches students with other students to find and take advantage of carpooling.  The other category was Student Life, the winning entry of which was Matador Patrol.  Matador Patrol is way for students to request a safety escort on campus.

We have New Media Consortium to talk about tech trends, and will also talk about student retention.  We also have a number of vendors here, and we invite you meet with them.

Ben Quillian, AVP for Central IT introduced first speakers

Presentation:  “On the Horizon” Trends, Challenges & Emerging Technologies in Higher Education



Key Trends Accelerating Educational Tech Adoption

One of the key questions we ask in the report is how long do we need to be concerned about these things?  We break that into three categories:

  • Long term:  advancing cultures of change and innovation (i.e. start-up mentality, fail fast
  • Mid-term:  Growing focus on measuring learning
  • Short-term:  Increasing use of blended learning

What Positive Trends are you Seeing at CSUN + How Can They Be Accelerated?

Significant Challenges Impeding Education Technology Adoption

Moving to the “dark side,” here are the challenges the higher education vertical faces:

  • Solvable:  blending formal + informal training.   Lifelong learning Festival Cork Institute of Technology, go.nmc.org/cork  In this festival, students drive the ownership of the educational documentation process.
  • Difficult:  teaching complex thinking andimproving digital literacy.  Data specialists needed!  Rochester Institute of Technology, go.nmc.org/rit
  • Wicked:  Competing Models of Education.  Minerva University, go.nmc.org/experience

Question:  What are some potential solutions to these challenges?  Dream Big!

Important Trends

Developments in technology you should be aware of

  • Near-term:  1 yr or less; byod
  • Mid-term:  2-3 yrs; maker spaces, Grand Valley State University, go.nmc.org/gvs; The Garage at USC, go.nmc.org/gara (VCs come to look at student creative projects)
  • Far-term: 4-5 yrs; wearable technology in nutrition and education (i.e. Apple watch).  What does this mean for education?  Quantifiable self movement and possibly language learning.  Embedded disposable sensors – UCSD go.nmc.org/utsd; Fitbit & Jawbone up go.nmc.org/quant; Adaptive Learning Technologies:  Mooculus at The Ohio State University go.nmc.org/ulus (which uses a hidden Markov model)

Question:  How could these developments in edtech support increased student retention and graduation rates?

Audience Questions

What are universities doing with ePortfolios?  Buying, building, using freely available products?  We see people using free tools like WordPress or SquareSpace, behance, etc.

What’s your position with respect to intellectual property rights, specifically for student-created IP?  It’s a big issue for educators, because students are often re-using materials in their own projects.  Students need to understand how this all works.

What’s your advice for people with children in this new world?  Digital Literacy is important!  Teach them what they need to know to be effective in this new world

How do we avoid design obsolescence?  We need to train data scientists how to deal with this.  A lot of work is being done with this in the digital art space, especially around preservation of the artist’s intent, longevity, etc.

How do we deal with scale?  There’s a big gap between maker spaces and web-scale projects.  Spaces should probably use public resources to help guide projects from nascent to global scales.

What are some things CSUN is doing?

  • Virtual Classroom (special education)
  • Embedding Universal Design (special education)
  • Creative Media Studio (Library)
  • “Flipping the Flipped Classroom”


Continuing Adventures in Higher Ed & Technology