The OnTask Project aims to improve the academic experience of students through the delivery of timely, personalised and actionable student feedback throughout their participation in a course.
The two-year project started in 2016 and is funded through a Strategic Priority Commissioned Grant by the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) of the Australian Government, and addresses the challenges faced by Australian Higher institutions to improve the quality of the student experience within the context of increasing enrolment numbers over the past years. The project is led by The University of Sydney (USYD) in collaboration with University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia), University of South Australia (UniSA), University of Texas at Arlington, and The University of Edinburgh.
As part of its deliverables, the OnTask project is developing a software tool that gathers and assesses data about student’s activities throughout the semester and allows instructors to design personalised feedback with suggestions about their learning strategies. By providing frequent suggestions about specific tasks in the course, students will be able to quickly adjust their learning progressively.
The tool is LMS agnostic and receives its data from various sources such as video engagement, assessments, student information systems, electronic textbooks, discussion forums, etc. Instructors and educational designers can use the platform to connect large data sets about students with concrete and frequent actions to support their learning.
Examples of feedback OnTask could facilitate includes directing them to specific chapters or worked examples in their textbook, suggesting additional reading or resources, enrolling them in required workshops or laboratory tutorials, suggesting the most effective study techniques for the tasks in the course, directing them to university support services, etc. OnTask aims to assist instructors to support all students in a course regardless of their performance by providing relevant, personalised suggestions.
The tool is also designed to provide evidence to management bodies about student support actions and their impact on the overall learning experience. Its open and modular architecture is conceived to foster a shift at the institutional level on how to improve the quality of the learning experience.