Friday, 28 August 2015

A new dawn for learning analytics in UK HE

An excellent paper has been produced by Jisc: Learning analytics - The current state of play in UK higher and further education.

Twelve universities and colleges are reviewed, and there is little common ground among the participating institutions in the analytics systems they are using.

The 'outcomes' are:   

Most interviewees are reluctant to claim any significant outcomes from their learning analytics activities to date – again perhaps demonstrating that it is still early days for the technologies and processes.


Several of the participants mention the strong correlation they have found between attendance and achievement. At Manchester Metropolitan it was found that students who submit assignments at the last minute or who have a high proportion of off - campus night time activity are more likely to fail.


Oxford Brookes finds that their dashboards have helped to identify issues with BME achievement on particular courses.


Derby has used analytics to dissect attainment across its student population in order to throw a spotlight on areas where it can target interventions. It can evidence impact on BME as well as overall student attainment.


Both East London and Bedfordshire report that anecdotally student attendance seems to have increased, perhaps because students know that their presence is being monitored.


Encouragingly, at Nottingham Trent the interventions taken by tutors as a result of the analytics are almost always followed by an improvement in engagement. In addition some of the tutors there present the individual student dashboards to the whole tutorial group to prompt discussions about progress  –and this is reportedly motivational to the students.


Several interviewees have found that a significant outcome of the analytics work has been improved connections between disparate parts of their organisations. Some, such as Loughborough and Activate Learning, also mention the sense of ownership that staff feel over the tools or the positive reception they have received, and how important this has been in their adoption.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Leak of personal data from 4000 people at Toyama University



Toyama University has revealed that one computer belonging to the Toyama Unit Center under the university’s Medical Department was infected by seven types of malware when the PC downloaded free software in early June.

The Toyama Unit Center participated in the national survey of children’s health and environment by the Japanese Ministry of Environment to elucidate what kind of impact chemicals in the living environment would have on children’s health.

About 5,300 parents and children who reside in the Toyama Prefecture, central part of the Japanese mainland, participated in the survey between February 2011 and March 2014.

The infected PC has personal information belonging to about 4,000 of 5,300 people such as the name, date of birth, area to live, and past birth and illness history of mothers in six cities or towns in the prefecture.

The Ministry of Environment requested each unit center to store personal information in PCs which are not connected to the Internet, but the university stored part of the personal information on a different PC, which professors use.

Academics lack understanding to make business-university links work


There is an interesting article in THES this week that reports academics lack the commercial understanding needed to make a business-university collaboration work.

The article references a report: Building Successful Collaborations: The SME’s Viewpoint on Partnering with a University compiled by data firm Beauhurst.  Cultural differences between businesses and academics are huge, communication and relationship management from an early stage is crucial, 32% of businesses feel their business potential is not understood.

I am surprised no mention is made of university-business centres such as Begbroke Science Part at Oxford and ThinkSpace at Imperial??

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Windows 10 and Privacy  

Microsoft has come under fire from privacy campaigners for collecting information from private files, e-mails and address books owned by its users.

Individuals’ speech, handwriting and typing habits are also being collected, as are call logs, the names of people listed in calendar appointments and information about what people buy online.

An article in the Register reports, '"Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties," the privacy warriors at European Digital Rights told the FT on Monday.'

The Register's article has a guide explaining how to configure Windows 10 to change privacy options to make the Operating System more secure. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

NSA hosts summer camp to attract young talent

The NSA is hosting summer camps to teach school students hacking techniques.

“The goal of GenCyber, as the summer camp program is called, is to catch the attention of potential cybersecurity recruits and seed interest in an exploding field as more and more of the nation’s critical transactions, from warfare to banking, move into the realm of cyberspace.”

“It’s a fine balance for me as a teacher, because you have to teach them some of the hacking techniques, and layer that in with an ethical discussion,” said Diane Murphy, a professor of information at Marymount University, home to one of the NSA camps this summer.

Interesting development....

Monday, 6 July 2015

Review of Quality Assessment

On the 29th June  HEFCE announced a Review of Quality Assessment. A Steering Group seeks views on future approaches to assessing the quality of education. The deadline for responding is 18 September 2015 (and 31 August 2015 for Wales).

An interesting THE article, 'Quality assurance to face overhaul' captures some of the proposals:

  • Instead of the “process-driven” review process, universities will instead be monitored via analysis of student academic outcomes, which may include data about student satisfaction, dropout rates and graduate employment rates.
  • Under the new plans outlined by Hefce in a consultation document, there will also be an enhanced role for universities’ and colleges’ own assurance systems, with governing bodies asked to confirm that their senates or academic boards were reviewing the quality of their students’ academic experience and academic standards.
  • External examining is also to be strengthened, with the creation of a national register of external examiners and the development of training schemes.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Protecting Data in Education 2015

An iGov Survey titled 'Protecting data in Education 2015'  has just been published, in partnership with Acronis.


The participating organisations are mainly schools, but also with colleges and universities.

The biggest perceived threat to the organistion's data is 'data loss'.

44% are planning to considering moving to the cloud to store data.

82% placed a 'very high priority' on data security.