Category Archives: News

Learning Analytics using Microsoft Excel

By Timothy D. Harfield

Patrick Leblanc (Microsoft Education) facilitated an engaging and informative lab at Emory University

On Wednesday, February 11, 2015 Patrick LeBlanc (Microsoft Education) delivered a half-day workshop on using Excel for extracting, cleaning, modeling, and visualizing educational data. The benefit of using Excel for Windows (Unfortunately, MS Excel for Mac is not yet as fully featured) in conjunction with Power Query, Power View, and Power Pivot is that it allows users to do complex modeling using an environment that is familiar and that we already license. For users lacking experience with statistical/machine learning packages, the visual environment and extensive library of built-in functions means that they can get to work without first being faced with a steep learning curve.

The combination of Power Query and Power Pivot serves to do much of the work that is currently done by other tools that Emory and its personnel currently license (including Pyramid BI and Tableau), but with the added advantage of allowing users to easily integrate data from a wide number of sources including our LMS data warehouse (Blackboard Analytics for Learn), flat files, and social media. Patrick also introduced a new Microsoft cloud service called Power BI, which makes it easy to share data models and reports. Unfortunately, the fact that this is a cloud-based solution means that its use requires users to upload their data to Microsoft servers, something that should not be done with any institutional data, let alone educational data. Until such a time as Power BI is fully assessed in terms of both Emory’s security and institutional data management policies, the service should not be used for anything except non-institutional data.

The workshop was a tremendous success, with many expressing their gratitude to Patrick, and their desire for him to return for more workshops in the future. The four hour lab went through a lot of material in a very short period of time. As a proof of concept, however, it is clear that this kind of session has a tremendous amount of value for the Emory community, and we look forward to having Patrick back next year for a series of deep dives and hands-on BYOD (Bring Your Own Data) sessions.

K-12 Lessons and Higher Education Opportunity

By Timothy D. Harfield

Dr. Ben Sayeski is Managing Partner of Education Strategy Consulting Dr. Ben Sayeski is Managing Partner of Education Strategy Consulting

Our spring 2015 series of learning analytics brown bag seminars opened today with a stimulating discussion led by Dr. Ben Sayeski, Managing Partner of a Virginia-based educational analytics firm called Education Strategy Consulting. In addition to demonstrating the visualization tool that ESC has successfully deployed in k-12 school districts all over the nation, he also demonstrated the value that can be gained in higher education through the visualization of even openly available data sets (like from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), for example).
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Emory’s MOOC Initiative Update

By Stephanie Parisi

Stephanie Parisi
Stephanie Parisi is the lead instructional designer for the Coursera MOOC Initiative at Emory University

At our December 3rd Brown Bag Seminar, I presented on the MOOC initiative at Emory. Massive Open Online Courses are finding their place at institutions of higher learning, and Emory is no exception. Partnering with educational platform provider Coursera, the Emory Coursera team in Faculty Services (LITS) has produced eight MOOCs since 2012. The ninth course, “Ebola: An Evolving Epidemic,” will be released in early 2015.

Enrollments in these courses of study have ranged from 5,000 to 50,000 learners and have been developed by faculty across all subject areas. As you can imagine, there are several challenges associated with offering courses of this massive scale, one of the biggest is data and analytics.

Still considered to be in a state of experimentation, there are little to no established measures of quality for MOOCs. One reason for this may be that MOOCs serve different purposes depending on the institution providing them. But regardless of purpose, most institutions share the common goal of continual course improvement.
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Getting a Leg Up at Emory

By Drew Kohlhorst, Ph.D.

Drew KohlhorstDrew Kohlhorst is Associate Director, Curriculum Development and Program Evaluation in the Center for Science Education at Emory University

At our November 6th Brown Bag Seminar, I presented on the development and assessment of the NSF-funded Getting A Leg Up @ Emory (GLUE) program. GLUE is a summer bridge program, designed to allow invited students from Emory University and Oxford College the opportunity to experience problem-based learning, interact with on-campus resources, and build a strong learning community in both residential and online learning environments. The GLUE curriculum uses case studies to engage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students in a variety of subjects including biology, chemistry, physics, public health, and ethics. The case studies focus on quantitative skills development, data literacy and visualization, scientific communication, and the effects of STEM on globalization.

In order to assess GLUE, several instruments have been developed using surveys, interviews, and student performance data. To date, over 190 participants have completed the GLUE program (Residential and Online). Of these participants, most have been African American females from both Emory and Oxford College. Over 90% of participants have indicated that GLUE prepared them for college, helped them consider their career plans, and gave them a sense of community. Participants have also reported that GLUE provides an interesting and engaging curriculum, and an opportunity to self-reflect. GLUE participants report having more positive views on science, scientific research, and the role of scientists in society. These views are further bolstered by increased confidence related to scientific inquiry and process skills.
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Framework for using Learning Analytics for D Min Program Assessment & Improvement

Roxanne Russell’s presentation today set an incredible tone of our Brown Bag talks this year.

After providing an overview of the new online Doctor of Ministry program in the Candler School of Theology, she offered the group a framework for program evaluation that emphasized the importance of meeting student expectations for their experience of the program. She suggested five key areas of student experience that have an impact on student perceptions of program value:

  1. Faculty Interaction
  2. Peers
  3. Curriculum
  4. Content
  5. Manageability

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