OU students’ progress to be monitored by algorithms

The BBC is reporting that students at the Open University are going to have their progress monitored by a set of algorithms to spot if they need any extra support.

The scheme, developed by the OU, has been designed to observe students’ paths through courses and engagement with online learning modules…

The programme, called OU Analyse, was developed at the university during the 2013-14 academic year.

It uses a variety of data sets held by the OU and assesses the likelihood of a student submitting their next assignment by using information gathered from four different algorithms.

The more algorithms that indicate the student will not send in their work – the higher the chance of that happening.

Prof Domingue added: “We take advantage of the fact that modules are presented many times. One can use the experience of previous students to benefit future students. An interesting fact is that the data of the interactions before the course actually starts, like reading the material available and engaging with forums, is extremely valuable…”

Ruth Tudor, president of the Open University’s Students’ Association, thinks the scheme is a positive one.

“It’s a great idea and a great way of providing targeted support to students who may be struggling and need extra help,” she told the BBC…

More at: OU students’ progress to be monitored by algorithms


The full report goes on to suggest that some other British universities are thinking of adopting similar models.

What do you think? Does it sound like a good idea and one that might, for example, help cut the drop out rates currently being experienced?

Any analogies with the use of data and tracking in schools?


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Categories: Higher Education.


  1. This is supported by the evidence. When data is used to identify where a student needs help – and then the help is provided, this is positive.
    (If the same data is used to judge a school/college, or for league tables, or to label students, it does not improve learning.)

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