Transforming Learning Support in ODFL: The LESS model


  • Lynnette Patricia Brice Open Polytechnic |Te Pūkenga
  • Alison Harrison Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga
  • Alan Cadwallader Open Polytechnic |Te Pūkenga



Student support, automation, engagement, success


The purpose of this paper is to share insights gained from the discovery, design, and delivery phases of creating a three-tiered model of non-academic learning support in ODFL, “Learner Engagement & Success Services (LESS),” at Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, New Zealand.  Presented as a case-study, this paper discusses the early vision of the model, examines theoretical understandings related to learner support and engagement, and describes the successes and challenges faced in bringing this vision to reality.  It outlines challenges related to the emergent use of learning analytics (LA) in identifying “exception” learners, the contestability of ethical use and choices of data, and the rapid evolution and devolution of commercially available solution tools.  The tiered model is described as a scalable blend of human and technology enabled interventions and services, underpinned by the values of agency and equity.  The component parts of this model are replicable, and its success is measurable.    

Author Biographies

Lynnette Patricia Brice, Open Polytechnic |Te Pūkenga

Lynette is currently Academic Staff Member, Degree Leader in Initial Teacher Education at the Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga. Previously, she held the roles of Manager, Learner Engagement and Success Services, Professional Practice Leader, and Head of School Foundation and Bridging at Open Polytechnic after an earlier career in secondary education. Lynnette is a Fulbright alumnus, having received the NZ Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Award to study in the USA in 2015. Lynne’s doctoral research broke new ground in understanding the impact of emotions in second-chance teaching and learning, which she explored through learner and tutor experiences in teen parent education, alternative education, and foundation education in Corrections facilities in Aotearoa.

Alison Harrison, Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga

As Executive Director Strategy at Open Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, Alison supports strategic and business planning processes, and leads the design and development of the data, learning analytics, and reporting functions in the organisation. All of these aim to drive learner and educational success. Before taking on her role at Open Polytechnic, Alison worked for 10 years as a management consultant in Europe, leading change management and strategic and business improvement projects across a wide range of public and private sector organisations. She has 30 years’ experience in tertiary education institutions, including roles in applied research and the commercialisation of research technologies in a university spin-off company. She is the author of 11 books and over 60 academic publications. Alison holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Natal in South Africa and an MBA (with distinction) from Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Alan Cadwallader, Open Polytechnic |Te Pūkenga

Alan Cadwallader has been Executive Director, Learning Delivery for Open Polytechnic New Zealand since 2015. In more than 2 decades, Alan’s career in vocational education and training spans a number of New Zealand institutes of technology and polytechnics in teaching roles and as an administrator.

Collage of three authors