|   tags:  Education
Making the Grade Online

Making the Grade Online

Partnering with GoodData allowed Open Universities Australia to drive customer satisfaction and gain access to new markets

Making the Grade Online

Open Universities Australia (OUA) is the leader in providing open and flexible access to quality online higher education. For over 20 years, OUA has revolutionized the study possibilities for Australians, empowering students to develop their own personal study experience — without having to change their lifestyles.

Founded in 1993, OUA is owned by seven shareholder universities and offers courses from these shareholders and a wider provider network. OUA is one of the largest providers of online education in Australia and is an established leader in the field.

Customer Since


Use case

Learning analytics for online courses


Powered by GoodData, OUA Education Services

Traditional education has evolved with education providers investing in more and more blended and fully online programs to augment and/or replace face-to-face teaching. This shift enables students to become more discerning, providing access to units of study that are aligned with their individual circumstances. OUA’s open access model has been a pioneer in this space and helped to lead change.

Late in 2012, OUA decided to become the first organization in Australia to offer Massive OpenOnline Courses (MOOCs). Open2Study, OUA’s online MOOC platform, hosts 48 courses that provide introductory level content, enabling students to experience quality online education — at no cost. Open2study has over a million enrollments with some of the highest student satisfaction and completion metrics globally.

Open Universities Australia Dashboard
Open Universities Australia Dashboard. All data has been genericized.

Sharing the Knowledge

In 2014, OUA saw an opportunity to offer an analytics solution for its university partners and the wider market.

“We saw there was a gap in the market when it came to learning analytics. We recognized that access to live student data could be used to provide insights to learners via student dashboards. Students can refer to these dashboards as they study and they can also be used to inform the design, delivery, and review of programs when the data is reviewed at the tutor and institutional level,” says Chath Widanapathirana, Manager - Learning Analytics and Data Science.

“We wanted something that’s not just internally focused,” shares Widanapathirana. “We envisioned a solution that could be used by our providers but also by any educational organization.” The analytics solution not only provides core capabilities to internal OUA systems but it can also be leveraged by OUA’s Education Solutions to offer an end-to-end white-label product suite to market. Providing an extensive student lifecycle, Education Solutions enables organizations to acquire key insights into the user journey from acquisition to completion. More critically, the insights are realtime and actionable, as opposed to being reviewed on completion, enabling timely and targeted interventions that are key to student success and retention.

“We didn’t want to create the analytics component internally. We looked at the time to market and the cost to build, and we decided to bring in GoodData.”
Chath Widanapathirana
Chath Widanapathirana Manager - Learning Analytics and Data Science at Open Universities Australia

Partnering With a Class Act

OUA reviewed several options before deciding to partner with GoodData. “Our value proposition revolved around solving problems for the education industry,” says Brenda Frisk, Head of Learning Technology, “and we knew the fastest way to bring this solution to market was to partner with GoodData. We could build off our capabilities and build others to have one single product, and their solution would allow us to continuously add new features to our offering.”

The requirements for the Learning Analytics project included:

  • Seamless integration with the existing OUA product
  • Ability to leverage the product for Education Solutions white-label clients
  • Ease of use by non-technical users
  • Continuous improvement cycle
  • Ongoing relationship

The finished product allows OUA to serve its customers on two levels — institutional and teacher-level — by showing them:

  • Enrollments: How many students are enrolling versus dropping out, when drop-outs occur, completion rates, pass/fail rates, enrollment process
  • Engagement: How many students are engaging with the learning technology, which activities are seeing more or less engagement than others
  • Collaboration: How and when students are working with their teachers and with each other

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The flexibility of the GoodData platform became evident immediately. “We call Learning Analytics ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” notes Widanapathirana with a laugh, “because we’re always dealing with challenges our customers send our way. With GoodData, we were able to build a product that makes a difference with our customers.”

Following a pilot program with two universities to test and benchmark the product, OUA was ready to drive the solution.

Earning Top Marks

Learning Analytics is earning rave reviews from OUA’s customers. “One of the key pain points we were hearing from customers,” Frisk recalls, “was lack of visibility. It took a lot of time to get the information they needed. With Learning Analytics, we’re able to present that information when and where they need it.”

Users also appreciate the product’s ease of use. “Our users are academics and often non-technical,” explains Frisk. “They love having quick access to information in an easily consumable format. Once they start using the solution, they start thinking about other ways to consume the analytics and the questions they can ask.”

“It’s exciting to see our customers discover what learning analytics can do for them. We’re able to show them real insights that lead to real understanding, helping them see what they need to do to achieve their goals.”
Brenda Frisk
Brenda Frisk Head of Learning Technology at Open Universities Australia

Results with GoodData:

  • Access to new markets
  • Greater control in scaling
  • Improved customer satisfaction

On the business development side, Learning Analytics gives OUA a valuable asset in expanding its market. By creating a learning analytics solution, OUA now has an opportunity to approach universities with existing learning management solutions. “Learning Analytics lets institutions extend the ROI from their LMS without having to replace it,” notes Frisk. “Replacing an LMS is a huge, expensive undertaking. We have a solution that universities can plug into any existing LMS, and that’s opened doors to universities that were closed off before.”

By seizing an opportunity to fill the analytics gap in learning management solutions, OUA carries on its legacy of bold innovation.

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