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Abstract

The advent of Massive Open Online Courses has been variously described as heralding the end of the modern university or alternatively, an over-hyped re-badging of existing online content whose advantages have already been realised. Appeals to ideology however, have typically characterised coverage of both polarities rather than hard evidence; in particular, there has been much less analysis on just how learning outcomes are impacted by either “face-to-face” interaction or online/digital environment. Less dichotomously and even more rarely addressed is perhaps a more pertinent question: What blending of the two learning modes works best and in what circumstances? In this paper we argue that the emerging field of learning analytics applied to “educational big data” contains the tools for answering such a question provided a university’s data linkage problem can be solved. The authors, Learning Advisors in ECU’s Faculty of Engineering, Health and Science, describe the initiation of a framework incorporating data on content usage in online learning systems, together with establishing a new system for collecting data on individual consultations and workshops (a “face-to-face” mode, for which data is less-commonly collected). These data are presented and even in isolation contain interesting features on ECU’s current learning landscape; it is in their combination, however, that we argue the real potential lies and we conclude by covering the necessary steps needed for such a realisation.

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