Serving different learning styles

Team players: Dr Malini says that interaction among students is necessary as it develops their ability to work together,

DATA obtained from analytics is the way to go to enhance a student’s learning experience.

According to INTI International University (INTI) deputy vice-chancellor Dr Malini Eliatamby, the varsity has been using data obtained from their Blackboard online learning platform to cater to their students’ individual learning styles.

Everything a student does on Blackboard is recorded as a digital footprint or what Dr Malini refers to as “data”.

“Based on this data, it will be easier to decipher how the students are learning. If they are ‘loners’ or are collaborating with each other,” she adds.

She also says that this allows lecturers to determine a student’s learning style and come up with a way to help that student gain as much as possible in the classroom.

“Other kinds of data that can be obtained is how the students are performing in comparison with the other students in the same class and the students’ grades in comparison with the class average,” she adds.

“I think data is a powerful tool in education because it allows us to understand how students are learning, their behaviour and allows students to improve their grades.

“It also better improves the students’ success rate.”

INTI started using Blackboard in 2014 and implemented Blackboard Analytics in January 2016.

“With the implementation of Blackboard Analytics, today the teaching and learning is very much guided by the use of data obtained from the analytics,” she adds.

If students are found to be lacking in a particular course, the student’s mentor will be informed so that necessary steps can be taken.

“Previously, it would be done at the end of the semester based on exam grades. This is too late as it should be addressed throughout the semester,” she says.

With the online platform, Dr Malini says every student is expected to contribute in discussions, irrespective of whether they are shy or outspoken.

“Everybody gives their opinion because marks are being given,” she says, adding that students also learn how to think clearly and articulate their thoughts respectfully.

She points out that although interactions and collaborations are happening online, it does not hamper the students’ ability to be independent nor does it affect their social skills.

In fact, she believes it enhances their independence and makes them more confident.

She says that when a student faces a problem, they’re very willing to share their problems and work together to solve it.

This, she says, develops their ability to work together – requisite for joining the workforce later on.

She says students at INTI experience blended learning where lecturers still meet students face to face in the classroom but also have to do work online.

“Because Gen Z and Gen Alpha are very digitally connected and practically inseparable from their smartphones, they want to learn in a similar way. They don’t want to be listening to a teacher anymore,” she adds.

For them, it’s all about being a part of a community and collaborating.

She says they place a heavy emphasis on “learning from each other”.

“It’s really about crowdsourcing for information and getting information from everyone,” she adds.

This, she says, is also reflected in a survey on Generation Z carried out by INTI early last year.

Student feedback on the usage of data to improve their academic life has also been positive.

“They want more online exercises and activities,” says Dr Malini, adding that the students enjoy working and being assessed through the online platform.

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Education , INTI , Data , student learning


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