The Learning Innovation Hub recently ran a small student focus group about the potential of messages sent by convenors or tutors to students through iLearn. The LIH is currently piloting an iLearn tool called Personalised Learning Designer (PLD), which (among other things) enables educators to set up automated messages to students. In PLD, by creating an ‘event rule’ based on an activity inside your course, a message or alert is automatically triggered to students. For more on PLD, see in Amanda’s post about new iLearn features this session.

In the focus group, the LIH invited a small group of Mentor students to share their thoughts on which messages they most wanted to receive from convenors and tutors, how frequently, and which messages would motivate them to take further action.

Some of the results surprised us, while others (‘just remind me when assignments are due’) weren’t so surprising. As this was a small focus group, the results presented here aren’t conclusive by any means, however they did serve to refine a survey we are sending out to a wider pool of students, and are still interesting to note.

Below is a quick infographic with just a small portion of the results, or click here for a full report of the findings from the focus group and subsequent campus-wide student survey. 

an infographic with statistics from student survey

Student Focus Group iLearn Message infographic

As a majority of the students in the focus group indicated they want at least one message a week from their convenor, we broke down messages types by session week. These message types, which were confirmed by the students as being potentially helpful, are merely suggestions and are my no means prescriptive.

Calendar of suggested messages

Student message content calendar

If you are interested to hear more about Personalised Learning Designer (PLD), please either speak to your Faculty Learning Designers, or email

Personalised Learning Designer (PLD) is described as a Learning Analytics tool and the PLD pilot follows on from the many years of great work on the other Moodle-based Learning Analytics tool, MEAP (Moodle Engagement Analytic Plugin), which has been piloted at Macquarie, led by Chris Froissard, since 2014. Chris Froissard, Danny Liu, Deborah Richards and Amara Atif presented A learning analytics pilot in Moodle and its impact on developing organisational capacity in a university, at Ascilite 2017. Amara Atif’s PhD research, yet to be published, includes a large scale student survey, and we drew on this research when drafting questions for this focus group. With both of these surveys, we are aiming to build a clearer picture of the ideal messaging parameters for students in iLearn.

Posted by Geraldine Timmins

I was Communications and Engagement Lead for the Learning Innovation Hub 2017 - 2018 and Teche Editor during that time.

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