Categories of digital activities annotated by users as both on-task and off-task.We are happy to announce the publication of our latest research paper that delves into the intricate relationship between digital media usage and the learning experience. The paper addresses key challenges related to monitoring on-task and off-task behavior and suggests innovative solutions for a more effective and ethical study of learners’ media habits.Traditionally, researchers have faced a myriad of challenges in accurately gauging how students utilize digital media while learning. Self-reported data often suffer from issues like faulty memory, subjective perceptions, and bias. Understanding whether digital media use enhances or hinders the learning experience is an incredibly complex issue.

We identified and addressed four core challenges in logging digital media use during learning:

  1. The logging system must only be active during the learning period to capture relevant data.
  2. Data collection can be intrusive and raises questions of ethical concern.
  3. Modern learning often involves the use of multiple devices, all of which need to be logged.
  4. Merely logging the data is not enough; we must also understand why a learner switches between tasks.

Our Solution: Contextually Activated Logging System

To tackle these challenges, we introduce a contextually activated logging system based on the Edutex system that only records data during designated learning times, thereby respecting user privacy. The system also allows for the logging of multiple devices to account for media multitasking, a common habit among today’s learners. What furthermore sets our system apart is its post-session review feature. After the learning session, users have the opportunity to review and annotate their activities, adding a layer of self-reflection that helps to clarify the reasons behind their media usage patterns.

What This Means for Learning Analytics

Our paper suggests that a nuanced approach to data collection and interpretation can reveal more about our complex learning behaviors in the digital age. We are excited about the potential impact of our research and look forward to future studies that can build upon these initial findings.

The research paper is published via open access in the Journal of Learning Analytics

The edutex infrastructure is hosted on Gitlab

We welcome you to read the paper, use the Edutex infrastructure, and join the conversation on learning analytics and media use during learning.