Data Analytics, Academic Gaming and the Student Experience

By André Thomas, CEO of Triseum

It’s rare to look at a higher education coverage these days and not find references to the importance of data analytics. Across the student lifecycle from marketing and enrollment, to the learning experience, to alumni relations, data seems to be behind it all.

According to a blog post on ACE, “over the last decade, data analytics has evolved from a buzzword to a multibillion-dollar business, and it has begun to permeate higher education.” What’s more, eCampus News talks about the data-enabled institution among the issues that will shape 2019 for higher-ed IT leaders, and the 2018 NMC Horizon Report published by EDUCAUSE named analytics technologies an important development in higher education.

This same Horizon Report goes on to say that a “growing focus on measuring learning is an accelerating trend in educational settings.” Faculty want to know when and how their students are engaging with the course and its content, not to mention how this engagement is impacting outcomes. And so here we are, back to data.

As an educator and game designer, I can’t help but think about the ways that data analytics in academic video games, such as Variant: Limits or ARTé: Mecenas, can be used to measure learning, even more so than a book. Like traditional textbooks, these video games are another medium to help students learn a subject. But unlike books, immersive video games have the power to analyze student progress and mastery along the way, giving faculty important insights.

Intelligent game analytics enable faculty to monitor student engagement and advancement made toward learning objectives. Teachers can see where students are thriving, if they might get hung up on certain concepts, whether or not the majority of students are gravitating toward a particular incorrect answer, and how students are navigating through the content. Teachers can also use this data to intervene with individual students if they see patterns that require additional attention or clarification.

Data analytics in higher education isn’t just a thing, it’s a big thing. It’s becoming the basis for which institutions connect with and support students, and it’s a critical piece of the learning experience.