Virtual School Meanderings

November 14, 2016

ELESIG Autumn Newsletter 2016

Also from Sunday’s inbox…

Welcome to the Autumn 2016 issue of the 
ELESIG Newsletter  

In this issue:


Thank you to all the ELESIG committee and members for all your hard work and continued support for ELESIG and in supporting the wider field in research into learners’ experiences and use of technology in learning.

Without the involvement and support from the committee and wider membership, ELESIG wouldn’t be able to exist.

It is important moving forward that we continue our focus on learners’ experiences and use of technology in learning. We’d like to see ELESIG widen its appeal and focus to support the growth of ELESIG membership in FE and sixth form colleges, Work based learning and adult community learning.

Since the last newsletter, membership continues to steadily grow and we now have 2146 members at the time of writing.

ELESIG continues to make an important contribution, as you will see from the local group updates below and the projects being work on, which includes the launch of a mentoring scheme and the ELESIG #LERMOOC, which is open for registering now and starts in February 2017.

ELESIG is your group and it is very important that it works for you so please do share your thoughts and ideas on what you’d like to see from ELESIG. There’s a lot of dramatic change happening in education at the moment, with the Teaching Excellence Framework, the introduction of the levy, removing caps on student numbers and the increasing use and experimentation with new technologies, to name just a few – making ELESIG’s contributions valuable to the field.

We are delighted to welcome two new members to the organising committe, Sarah Knight as Vice-Chair and Dawn Buzzard as Treasurer. Unfortunately, Katharine Jewitt has had to step down due to work commitments and we would like to invite nominations for the role of chair for the forthcoming year. We would also be happy to consider co-chairs.If you are interested in taking on the role of chair/or co-chair, please email Sarah Knight at , a statement of interest and experience in relation to the role (no more than 200 words) by Friday 25th November. Your nomination also needs two signed statements of support from a proposer and seconder who need to be ELESIG members.

We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for considering this opportunity.

ELESIG Scotland

There’s an exciting programme planned on e-learner experience of assessment and feedback for the next ELESIG Scotland event. This will be held on the 21st November 2016at the University of Highlands and Islands, Inverness. Hosted by Professor Keith Smyth (@smythkrs on Twitter)
Click here to book your place:
Click here if you’d like to submit an abstract for a poster:

ELESIG North West

Jim Turner, Tunde Varga-Atkins and Amanda Mason presented at the European Association for International Education on behalf of ELESIG. The presentation covered the preliminary findings of a ‘journal club’ project to review the literature surrounding the international student experience and technology. The project has been discussed in a previous ELESIG newsletter. The presentation was well received and several international contacts have been established that will hopefully extend the project.
The conference was ‘huge’ with over 5000 delegates covering many areas of international higher education. It is also the first conference I have been to where you could book for early morning yoga! Interestingly there is less focus on keynotes at this event and more in networking opportunities. There was also a distinct lack of presentations on technology so perhaps one dissemination channel to consider by ELESIG members.

ELESIG Gwella (Wales)

The newly re-formed Wales group met for an initial online meeting at the end of September.  The current group consists of colleagues from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Colg Cymraeg, Glyndwr University, Swansea University, University of South Wales, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and JISC Wales and we hope to grow group numbers over the coming weeks. We would also like to extend membership to FE colleges in Wales.

A Google Base Camp has been set up for ease of communication and we are in the process of establishing a schedule of meetings. We have also had some initial discussions with ALT-Wales with a view to collaboration. A further online meeting is planned before the end of the year.

New members welcome!


Thank you to everyone who made the third London event held, such a success, held on the 7th July.

Evaluation By Numbers‘, was a two-hour event. Building on the successful format of ELESIG Lonon’s last event, two presenters were invited on the theme of ‘proto-analytics’ – an important aspect of institutional readiness for learning analytics which empowers individuals to work with their own log data to come up with theories about what to do next. There were 15 participants with a range of experiences and interests, including artificial intelligence, ethics, stats and data visualisation, and a range of priorities including academic research, academic development, and data security, and real-time data analysis.

After a convivial round of introductions there was a talk from Michele Milner, Head of Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of East London, titled Empowering Staff And Students. Determined to avoid data-driven decision making, UEL’s investigations had confirmed a lack of enthusiasm and wariness on the part of most staff to work with log data. This is normal in the sector and probably attributable to a combination of inexperience and overwork. The UEL project had different strands. One was attendance monitoring  feeding into a student engagement metric with more predictive power including correlation between engagement (operationalised as e.g. library and VLE access, data from the tablets students are issued) and achievement. This feeds a student retention app, along with demographic weightings. Turnitin and Panopto (lecture capture) data have so far been elusive, but UEL is persisting on the basis these gross measures do correlate.

The project gave academic departments a way to visualise retention as an overall red-amber-green rating, and simulate the expected effects of different interventions. The feedback they received from academics was broadly positive but short of enthused, and with good questions about cut-off dates, workload allocation, and nature and timing of interventions. Focus group with students revealed that there was low awareness of data collection, that students weren’t particularly keen to see the data, and that if presented with it they would prefer barcharts by date rather than comparators with other students. We discussed ethics of data collection, including the possibility of student opt-in or opt-out of opening their anonymised data set.

Our next speaker was Andreas Konstantinidis from Kings College London, on Utilising Moodle Logs (slides).  He attributes the low numbers of educators are currently working with VLE data to limitations of logs. In Moodle’s case this is particularly to do with limited filtering, and the exclusion of some potentially important data including Book pages and links within Labels. To address this, he and his colleague Cat Grafton worked on some macros to allow individual academics to import and visualise logs downloaded from their VLE (KEATS) in a MS Excel spreadsheet.
To dodge death by data avarice they first had to consider which data to include, deciding on the following. Mean session length does not firmly correspond to anything but the fluctuations are interesting. Bounce rate indicates students are having difficulty finding what they need. Time of use, combining two or more filters, can inform plans about when to schedule events or release materials. You can also see the top and bottom 10 students engaging with Moodle, and the top and bottom resources used – this data can be an ice breaker to be able to discuss reasons and support. IP addresses, may reveal where students are gathering e.g. a certain IT room, which in turn may inform decisions about where to reach students.

Kings have made KEATS Analytics available to all (includes workbook), and you can download it from It currently supports Moodle 2.6 and 2.8, with 3.X coming soon. At UCL we’re on 2.8 only for the next few weeks, so if you want to work with KEATS analytics here’s some guidance for downloading your logs now.

As Michele (quoting Eliot) said, “Hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing”. Although it is not always fit to use immediately, data abounds – so what we’re looking for now are good pedagogical questions which data can help to answer. I’ve found Anna Lea Dyckhoff’s meta-analysis of tutors’ action research questions helpful. To empower individuals and build data capabilities in an era of potentially data-driven decision-making, a good start might be to address these questions in short worksheets which take colleagues who aren’t statisticians through statistical analysis of their data. If you are good with data and its role in educational decision-making, please get in touch.

A participant pointed us to a series of podcasts from Jisc around the ethical and legal issues of learning analytics. Richard Treves has as write-up of the event and my co-organiser Leo Havemann has collected the tweets. For a report on the current state of play with learning analytics, see Sclater and colleagues’ April 2016 review of UK and International Practice. Sam Ahern mentioned there are still places on a 28th July data visualization workshop being run by the Software Sustainability Institute.


ELESIG Mentoring

Denise Sweeney presented at the Annual General Meeting a proposal for ELESIG to pilot a mentoring scheme.
The aim of the mentoring scheme would be to engage the diverse ELESIG community (especially experienced practitioners and researchers) through a pilot mentoring scheme.

The mentoring scheme would provide a broad range of areas for mentoring projects that are flexible. For example: how to develop proposals and/or bids for funding; making connections with colleagues in similar roles in other institutions; keeping up to date with the field of learner experience research; developing policy around learner experience research; learner experience research methods.

The pilot scheme will be time bound (12 months), project bound, and have a mutually negotiated agreement between mentees and mentors. It would then be evaluated and reported back to the Organising Committee.

If you are interested in being an ELESIG mentor, please email Denise Sweeney at


We are pleased to announce the launch of ELESIG’s MOOC on the EMMA Platform. Thank you to everyone who has kindly volunteered to be involved in some way either through writing a study week, facilitating – once the course goes live, running a webinar or contributing to additional reading and case studies. Please visit this link to view more details and to register if you’d like to study the course : Please spread the word amongst your networks using the hashtag #LERMOOC and sharing the link.


We now have six local groups operating around the UK. Do you know where your nearest one is? Join a local group at 
If you are interested in setting up an ELESIG Local Group in an area not yet covered, please contact the Local Group Conveners.
If you are hosting a local event, here are the marketing templates for flyers, powerpoint presentation and logos:

Where to find ELESIG members

•   Contact us. Send a message to the ELESIG Organising Committee
•   View presentations from our symposia, including the hugely popular Members’ Corners, on Slideshare.
•    Discuss issues to do with learner experience research on the ELESIG group on Facebook
•    Share thoughts and links on Twitter @elesig
•    Search for others interested in your learner experience research in our ELESIG Community site, now with 2146 members (sign up required).

Help Promote ELESIG

Click this link to add a badge to your website / blog and help our membership grow.

Please share this 2 minute video clip about ELESIG amongst your networks. You may like to play this in your introduction, when hosting a local event.

Pleae click this link to view:

This email was sent to
ELESIG · Headington Rd · Gipsy Lane · Oxford, Oxfordshire OX3 0BP · United Kingdom

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