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Mr Tom Olney

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am currently employed as a Senior Learning and Teaching Manager in the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with specific responsibility for the adoption and development of learning design and learning analytics principles in STEM course creation. My work also includes project managing various initiatives to support the Associate Dean, Student Experience in improving the experience of STEM students.

Projects, past and present, generally involve delivering training opportunities and developing resources to support the professional development of OU academics, Staff Tutors, and Associate Lecturers as well as evaluating and then operationalising institutional research outputs into business as usual.

Examples of these projects include: Analytics for Action (2015-16)OU Learning Design (2016-18), Teaching Tricky Topics (2017)Predictive Learning Analytics (2017-18), Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (2018), Learning Design in STEM (2021-2022), Learning Outcomes in STEM (2021-2022) & Learning Analytics in STEM (2022). 

However, my background is in face to face classroom teaching. Before joining the OU I was employed as a teacher and Humanities faculty lead in Melbourne, Australia, teaching English, International Relations and History for 10 years. I have worked as an examiner for Pearson Education and I hold a degree in History and Politics, and a Post -Grad Diploma in Education. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Association (SFHEA) (2018). 

I have significant expertise in developing, interpreting, explaining and obtaining meaning from visualisations of both learning analytics and learning designs and am an experienced facilitator, drawing on my classroom practice and trained in consensus and group facilitation methodologies (2016). At the OU I regularly facilitate learning design workshops for module teams across the faculty. I am particuarly interested in the cross-cultural application of learning design and as such I have developed and delivered a range of workshop approaches for international and commercial audiences such as EDEN (2016 & 2019), the Independent Institute of Education (IIE) in Johannesburg, South Africa (2017), OU China, Jiangsu OU, Shanghai OU, Guangdong OU, Sichuan RTVU, Jiangxi RTVU, Hubei RTVU (2017-22), and as part of the Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (BELL) project (2018). I am co-creator and co-faciliator of the Learning Design and Course Creation (LDCC) Workshop. 


Research interests

My research interests include professsional development, learning design approaches and learning analytics. I am currently working on several evaulation projects. These include the impact of the LDCC Workshops on the professional identity of Chinese HE educators, the implemetation and use of learning analytics in STEM, and approaches for supporting academics in learning design in STEM. Methodological frameworks of interest include; social informatics (Kling, 2007), shadow practices (McCoy & Rosenbaum, 2019), professional self-understanding & subjective educational theory (Kelchtermans, 2009), and the Theory of Practice Architectures (Mahon, Kemmis, Francisco & Lloyd, 2017). A full list of authored work can be found in the 'Publications' tab. 


The Learning Design & Course Creation Workshop: Impact of a Professional Development Model for Training Designers and Creators of Online and Distance Learning (2023-01)
Olney, Tom; Rienties, Bart; Chang, Daphne and Banks, Duncan
Technology, Knowledge and Learning ((Early access))

Using the Theory of Practice Architectures to establish what it means to “do” learning design, and the arrangements that enable and constrain practice (2023)
Olney, Tom and Wood, Carlton
Frontiers in Education, 8, Article 1291032

Enhancing the quality of open and distance learning in China through the identification and development of learning design skills and competencies (2021-05-21)
Olney, Tom; Li, Chenxi and Luo, Juan
Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 16(1) (pp. 61-78)

Are We Living in LA (P)LA Land? Reporting on the Practice of 30 STEM Tutors in Their Use of a Learning Analytics Implementation at The Open University (2021)
Olney, Tom; Walker, Steve; Wood, Carlton and Clarke, Anactoria
Journal of Learning Analytics, 8(3) (pp. 45-59)

Professional development for sustaining the ‘pivot’: the impact of the Learning Design and Course Creation Workshop on six Belarusian HEIs (2021)
Olney, Tom and Piashkun, Siarhei
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2021, Article 10(1)

Effective usage of Learning Analytics: What do practitioners want and where should distance learning institutions be going? (2020)
Rienties, Bart; Olney, Tom; Nichols, Mark and Herodotou, Christothea
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-learning, 35(2) (pp. 178-195)

How do tutors use data to support their students? (2019)
Walker, Steve; Olney, Tom; Wood, Carlton; Clarke, Anactoria and Dunworth, Moira
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 34(1) (pp. 118-133)

Making sense of learning analytics dashboards: a technology acceptance perspective of 95 teachers (2018-11)
Rienties, Bart; Herodotou, Christothea; Olney, Tom; Schencks, Mat and Boroowa, Avi
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 19(5) (pp. 186-202)

Gathering, visualising and interpreting learning design analytics to inform classroom practice and curriculum design: A student-centred approach from the Open University (2018-10-02)
Olney, Tom; Rienties, Bart and Toetenel, Lisette
In: Lodge, Jason M.; Horvath, Jared Cooney and Corrin, Linda eds. Learning Analytics in the Classroom: Translating Learning Analytics Research for Teachers (pp. 71-92)
ISBN : 9780815362111 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

The evolution of learning analytics practice over six years at the Open University, UK: what are the arrangements that enable or constrain this practice? (2023-11-30)
Olney, T. and Wood, C.
In : 16th Annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (13-15 Nov 2023, Seville, Spain) (pp. 449-455)

How might the cultural learning preferences of the participants of the enhancement of lifelong learning in Belarus (BELL) project impact on their learning designs? (2020-10)
Olney, Tom; Endean, Mark and Banks, Duncan
In : Final Conference on Erasmus+ project Enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (13-14 Oct 2020, Brest, Belarus) (pp. 20-28)

Evaluating the impact of the Learning Design and Course Creation (LDCC) workshop on the participants of the enhancement of Lifelong Learning in Belarus (BELL) project (2020)
Olney, Tom; Endean, Mark and Banks, Duncan
In : Proceedings of the final conference on the Erasmus+ project. Enhancement of Lifelong learning in Belarus (13-14 Oct 2020, Brest) (pp. 12-19)

Reviewing three case-studies of learning analytics interventions at the open university UK (2016-04-25)
Rienties, Bart; Boroowa, Avinash; Cross, Simon; Farrington-Flint, Lee; Herodotou, Christothea; Prescott, Lynda; Mayles, Kevin; Olney, Tom; Toetenel, Lisette and Woodthorpe, John
In : Sixth International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK '16 ) (25-29 Apr 2016, Edinburgh) (pp. 534-535)