Reporting on mobile usage of OU Learning Systems

Since we’re now in the process of monitoring and reviewing the uptake and feedback on the latest mobile optimisation work, I’ve had a few queries now from colleagues, and so the following may be of wider interest:

Initially we had a need to move to a more systematic approach to obtaining data and making it meaningful to provide trends and insight. The OU has been monitoring mobile usage of the main StudentHome portal since 2006, and kudos to Steve Bannister in our IT team who has kept this up to date with new devices coming on to the market. However, with the more recent addition of a range of tablet devices we also needed a more granular look at handheld mobile devices and the newer tablets to better inform future approaches.

To move away from the high degree of custom queries and ‘hand-cranking’ on this, the OU has been working most recently with comScore on Digital Analytics (DAx). This area┬áhas historically been more within the purview of our communications, marketing and public-engagement teams, but it was deemed timely to have a consistent mechanism to house all pertinent records (including prior VLE reporting) in a data warehouse approach and then interrogate in a consistent way (and with consistent rules and calculations in place).

Of course the needs of what is now Learning Analytics are different from tracking the success of a campaign, time onsite, bounce and click-through conversions, rates and patterns – but there are similarities. So in the interests of preparing for more targetted queries, we needed to compare some of the top-level data.

With this in mind, the DAx framework (and device-specific granularity) has been applied to the different learning system platforms and comparisons made against prior calculations to establish confidence and robustness before iterating further. The most recent quarterly picture of mobile adoption is shown below (old method):

The more recent DAx approach to trending mobile device access overall is illustrated as well:

Looking at the new VLE2 on Moodle 2.x, we see a reasonably balanced picture with regard to handheld/tablet usage, albeit with smaller proportions of BlackBerry users:

The now legacy VLE1 on Moodle 1.9 showed much more prevalent iPad usage over the same period:

In addition, we took a snapshot in July to see how the distribution panned out across live modules and observed some peaks that can be explained partly by:

  • Residential schools giving rise to more access on-the-go
  • Some reference to mobile use in the workplace or as part of the curriculum, leading to possibly a more mobile-savvy constituency
  • Past reference to access via mobile, while not as yet officially promoted nor supported.

In conclusion, this is very much an ongoing test case, with the longer-term aim of providing more drill-down granularity to compare device usage within queries on the use of resources and activities – and also how much active contribution comes back from the students.

The charts shown here were originally prepared for the 1st Moodle Research conference and for a poster session, including a handout.

One Response to “Reporting on mobile usage of OU Learning Systems”

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