Collaborating on student success
“The UDP and public cloud present interesting opportunities for us,” says Sean DeMonner, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at U-M’s Information and Technology Services (ITS). “They offer foundational infrastructure, technical innovation, and data security at consortial scale.” Working with Google and Unizin, DeMonner gathered the team that developed My Learning Analytics (MyLA), a data analytics tool that visualizes course data and activities so students can monitor their own learning behaviors. With MyLA, for example, students can see how their online course activities—like completing a certain assignment or watching a lecture capture video—compare to the aggregated behavior of the other students in the class. The assignment-planning page lets them work through “what if” scenarios to see what assignments have the biggest impact on their grade, and help them decide how best to spend their limited time. By visualizing resource utilization, grade distribution, and assignment planning, MyLA helps students develop what is called self-regulated learning: they become conscious of their behaviors and the outcomes that follow. Students can then use that knowledge to improve their habits to achieve better results in a virtuous cycle.
John Johnston, the ITS Program Manager at U-M who serves as technical liaison with Unizin, points out that supporting the development of metacognitive skills—students monitoring, regulating, and reflecting on their own learning—is especially important for first-generation college students and those from under-resourced school districts, who may have had less exposure to those strategies in high school. “MyLA helps level the playing field in that regard,” Johnston argues. “It guides students to effectively budget their study time on the most impactful learning activities.” To date, MyLA has been used by over 2,300 U-M students over three semesters in 32 courses across different disciplines.