Exposing VLE activity data (EVAD)

Lead institution: University of Cambridge
Project home page: http://vledata.blogspot.com/
Project hypothesis:
We have four hypotheses we want to test:
  • Senior stakeholders in our VLE would like richer information about VLE/ VRE usage, so that we can show growth potential, whether across the campus or in specific faculties or departments. We will test this by presenting the visualisations of our activity information to our Centre's management committee (or equivalent decision- making committees) and gathering their responses to the information, as well as obtaining their opinion on whether a case is made for a change in investment level.
  • We aim to identify 'usage signatures' which indicate either skilled use of the VLE, or users who may be struggling, but who do not ask for help. In the former case, we'd like to share what they're doing; in the latter case, we'll look at the relation between access to our help documentation and our helpdesk tickets. We will test this by correlating a usage signature with the reported experiences of academics, gained via phone or email interview.
  • We believe we can change our academics' attitudes towards the institutional VLE, by providing clear presentations including visualisations of activity information. We plan to test this by experimenting with different presentations of elements of our activity information to establish what the most effective and engaging presentational formats are. We will survey academics at the start and end of the project to measure their attitudes towards the VLE, which should allow us to measure our results.
  • We think a comparison of VLE usage information across the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Hull should prove valuable to the sector, as we may be able to identify similarities and differences in VLE usage which may inform future consideration of the transferability of VLE project results and concepts across institutions.
Project description
We will bring together activity and attention data for our institutional virtual learning environment (VLE) to create useful and informative management reporting including powerful visualisations. These reports will enable us to explore improvements to both the VLE software and to the institutional support services around it, including how new information can inform university valuation of VLEs and strategy in this area. We will also release anonymised datasets for use in research by others. We will reuse existing tools and methods for data analysis and visualisation as far as possible, and share our experiences and learning on a project blog in a highly accessible and reusable form. This will substantially assist other teams operating, supporting and managing VLEs in working with their own activity data, both as part of major institutional projects and within informal efforts to better understand how academics and students use VLEs.
See visualisation of the data .
Processing data
Presenting data