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Tom Olney

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am currently employed as a Senior Learning and Teaching Manager in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with specific responsibility for the adoption and development of learning design and learning analytics principles in STEM course creation. My work also includes project managing various initiatives to support the Associate Dean, Student Experience in improving the experience of STEM students.

Projects, past and present, generally involve delivering training opportunities and developing resources to support the professional development of OU academics, Staff Tutors, and Associate Lecturers as well as evaluating and then operationalising institutional research outputs into business as usual.

Examples of these projects include: Analytics for Action (2015-16)OU Learning Design (2016-18), Teaching Tricky Topics (2017), Predictive Learning Analytics (2017-18), Module Team Chair Induction Resources and Event (2018), Single Component Assessment (2018), Learning Networks (2018), Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (2018).

However, my background is in face to face classroom teaching. Before joining the OU I was employed as a teacher and Humanities faculty lead in Melbourne, Australia, teaching English, International Relations and History for 10 years. I have worked as an examiner for Pearson Education and tutor secondary school students in my spare time. I hold a degree in History and Politics, and a Post -Grad Diploma in Education. I have also achieved Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Association (SFHEA) status (2018). 

I have significant expertise in developing, interpreting, explaining and obtaining meaning from visualisations of both learning analytics and learning designs and am an experienced facilitator, drawing on my classroom practice and trained in consensus and group facilitation methodologies (2016). At the OU I regularly facilitate learning design workshops for module teams across the faculty. I am particuarly interested in the cross-cultural application of learning design and as such I have developed and delivered a range of workshop approaches for international and commercial audiences such as EDEN (2016 & 2019), the Independent Institute of Education (IIE) in Johannesburg, South Africa (2017), Open Universities in Shanghai, Guangdong and Jiangsu (2017-19), and as part of the Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (BELL) project (2018), as well as for commercial UK-based institutions such as the College of Policing (2017). 


Research interests

My research interests include the application of learning design data and learning analytics. I am currently working on the evaluation of several learning design and course creation workshops in China, the use of learning analytics - including predictive analytics - dashboards and the application of learning design visualisations. 


Effective usage of Learning Analytics: What do practitioners want and where should distance learning institutions be going? (2020)
Rienties, Bart; Olney, Tom; Nichols, Mark and Herodotou, Christothea
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 35(2) (pp. 178-195)

How do tutors use data to support their students? (2019)
Walker, Steve; Olney, Tom; Wood, Carlton; Clarke, Anactoria and Dunworth, Moira
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 34(1) (pp. 118-133)

Making sense of learning analytics dashboards: a technology acceptance perspective of 95 teachers (2018-11)
Rienties, Bart; Herodotou, Christothea; Olney, Tom; Schencks, Mat and Boroowa, Avi
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 19(5) (pp. 186-202)

Gathering, visualising and interpreting learning design analytics to inform classroom practice and curriculum design: A student-centred approach from the Open University (2018-10-02)
Olney, Tom; Rienties, Bart and Toetenel, Lisette
In: Lodge, Jason M.; Horvath, Jared Cooney and Corrin, Linda eds. Learning Analytics in the Classroom: Translating Learning Analytics Research for Teachers (pp. 71-92)
ISBN : 9780815362111 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

How might the cultural learning preferences of the participants of the enhancement of lifelong learning in Belarus (BELL) project impact on their learning designs? (2020-10)
Olney, Tom; Endean, Mark and Banks, Duncan
In : Final Conference on Erasmus+ project Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (13-14 Oct 2020, Brest, Belarus) (pp. 20-28)

Evaluating the impact of the Learning Design and Course Creation (LDCC) workshop on the participants of the enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (BELL) project (2020)
Olney, Tom; Endean, Mark and Banks, Duncan
In : Proceedings of the final conference on the Erasmus+ project. Enhancement of Lifelong learning in Belarus (13-14 Oct 2020, Brest) (pp. 12-19)

Reviewing three case-studies of learning analytics interventions at the open university UK (2016-04-25)
Rienties, Bart; Boroowa, Avinash; Cross, Simon; Farrington-Flint, Lee; Herodotou, Christothea; Prescott, Lynda; Mayles, Kevin; Olney, Tom; Toetenel, Lisette and Woodthorpe, John
In : Sixth International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK '16 ) (25-29 Apr 2016, Edinburgh) (pp. 534-535)