Learning Dashboards for Students

Dashboard ©Wayne Silver
©Wayne Silver

A dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.
– Stephen Few

In learning contexts a dashboard usually displays a learner’s online activity and learning progress in form of points, grades or badges.

Dashboards are a standard tool in fitness trackers and also on some commercial learning platforms like Kahn Academy or CodeCademy. Yet, in institutional learning at schools and universities dashboards are not widely available. However there are some early approaches and research projects, which I present here.

In Schools

PowerSchool

PowerSchool is a class management tool offered by US school books publisher Pearson. Teachers can enter grades and absences into the system. Students then can access their grades with iOS and Android Apps. When looking at Twitter posts mentioning PowerSchool it seems that it offers students a convenient and “addictive” way to learn about their performance. One student writes: “I check PowerSchool like its a social media”.

PowerSchool iOS App © Pearson Education, Inc.
PowerSchool iOS App © Pearson Education, Inc.

While it offers an overview of progress, PowerSchool is not a dashboard as it lacks a concise visual overview.

Schloss Neubeuern

Schloss Neubeuern is a private German boarding school. As part of their paperless classroom initiative, the school tracks all grades digitally and provides online access to students and parents. The school does not provide screenshots, but it appears that performance presentation is limited to a tabular grade book.

schoooools.com

The schoooools.com platform is actually a closed social network for children of K-6 schools. It was developed at the Instituto Superior Politécnico Gaya in Portugal.  I mention it because it is a very mature project and takes the entire classroom online. However performance dashboards are not part of the platform, yet.

schoooools.com © Tecla Colorida
schoooools.com © Tecla Colorida

In Higher Education

Almost all universities are using learning management systems (LMS). Of the top LMS, however, none provides dashboards for students.

In Blackboard instructors can merely get overview tables of student grades. Brightspace and Schoology provide more advanced learning analytics tools, which are available to teachers only. In Blackboard instructors overview tables of student grades for instructors but have no equivalent for students

For Moodle the MyStats plugin gives students basic graphs of their online activity.

OLI Dashboard

Within their eLearning project Open Learning Initiative (OLI), Carnegie Mellon University  collects learning analytics data and presents them to educators in a dashboard. Yet, students are only provided with basic tabular display of their grades.

OLI Dashboard - © Open Learning Initiative
OLI Dashboard – © Open Learning Initiative

Competency Map

Grann and Bushway (2014)  of Capella University developed a gamified teaching approach that included an advanced dashboard. The concept resembles role play games as students don’t strive for grades but complete single tasks. Each task contributes to a competency. The Competency Map gives students an overview of what competencies they have aquired and what tasks need to be completed next.

Competency Map © Capella University
Competency Map © Capella University

Grade Craft

Michigan University held some strongly gamified courses.  In these courses students would pick their tasks from a pool of assignments and decide by themselves which learning path they take. The entire course is managed with the custom GradeCraft platform. There instructors define tasks and goals, students compose their learning track and see their progress on a dashboard.

GradeCraft © Regents of the University of Michigan
GradeCraft © Regents of the University of Michigan

Prototypes

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) is researching dashboards and developed several prototypes. The most recent StepUp! tool provides visualization of online activity, social media use and attendance. (Santos, Verbert, Govaerts, Duval 2014)

StepUp! © KU Leuven
StepUp! © KU Leuven

 

At Melbourne University Corrin and de Barba  2014 (PDF)   deployed a dashboard in a biology course to research how students interpret the information displayed on the dashboard. The dashboard displayed a student’s test results graphically together with the class average.

Melbourne dashboard © University of Melbourne
Melbourne dashboard © University of Melbourne

This work has first been presented at CSEDU 2015 and was published in the  proceedings of CSEDU2015 – 7th International Conferenceon Computer Supported Education

You can get the paper on academia


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