Using Airtable to Track Student Engagement
An exploration of Airtable to support the identified needs related to the tracking and reporting of grant activities.
The Healthcare Alliance for the Promotion of Pittsburgh Youth (HAPPY) Project is a Behavioral Health Workforce and Training Project HRSA affiliated grant focused on training counseling psychology and occupational therapy students for work in an integrated care setting, with a particular emphasis on settings that work with children, youth, and vulnerable populations.
As a result of the grant funding, counseling psychology and occupational therapy students will collaborate in interdisciplinary training opportunities focused on preparing them for work in integrated care setting with the populations of interest. Major training topics including violence prevention, telehealth practice, trauma informed care, substance misuse, and suicide prevention will be covered. The grant offers funding for four years and the grant team will work to find available speakers related to each of the major topics each year. The presentations will be recorded in order to address the sustainability of these efforts. This will result in a repository of recorded presentations related to each of the major topics. Students from both disciplines will then be able to engage in available training related to each of the major topics, which may include live speakers and presentations, or the recorded presentations.
The team identified goals and measurable success indicators to determine whether the goals have been achieved. One of the goals identified was that the team would develop and implement the didactic training curriculum related to the five major training topics that will prepare the grant fellows for work in integrated care settings. Tracking student engagement in this training curriculum is essential to the reporting of grant activities. There are regular updates sent throughout the lifetime of the grant in addition to the final report on the outcomes at the conclusion of the project. This tech fellows project will outline the exploration of Airtable to support the identified needs related to the tracking and reporting of grant activities.
In finding the appropriate technology to support our needs, considerations included general usability as well as utility for both faculty and students. I was mindful of striking a balance between the number of novel technological platforms that were used (especially if each required a separate login/sign on) and the type of functionality provided within each platform. Ideally, we wanted something that could do the following:
- Serve as a repository of past trainings, all available via recorded Panopto video
- Provide an easy way to continually update the repository when additional training options become available (something dynamic for both faculty and the student)
- Assist is tracking engagement per student (what categories did the student complete, what evidence did they have for completion?)
- Assist in tracking engagement per major category (how many students completed trainings from each category?)
I first explored Brightspace, Teams, and Excel to see if any of these would have capabilities we were looking for. Ultimately, I was looking for something easy to follow, and not too convoluted or requiring multiple steps or logins. These various technologies worked for different pieces of the overall task, but none of them alone met all the criteria I was looking for. I was then introduced to Airtable, a cloud collaboration service.
Airtable has the data in the table on the left/center of the screen and then the apps utilized are on the right side. I created 3 tables that all “talk” to each other: a Major Training Categories table (image 1 below) which has rows for each category (violence prevention, telehealth, trauma informed care, etc); a table that hosts all of the available resources (image 2 below); and a table with student specific data (image 3 below).
Airtable has an app that allows for embedded video content for supported platforms. At this time Panopto is not a supported platform, but I did reach out to Airtable to see if we could make this happen. Youtube is a supported platform, so I included an example link with trauma informed care in row number 4 below. Image 4 shows an example of the table on the left and the embedded video (in this case a youtube video on trauma informed care) on the right.
For reporting purposes, AirTable apps will allow the team to easily see data both per student and per category. Image 5 below shows tracking per major category, so the team will be able to look at the pivot table and understand how many students total completed a training within each specific category. Image 6 below shows tracking per student, so the team can visually see how many were completed and know how many are left to complete from the overall total of 5.
The project is still underway, but will be assessed both formally and informally through conversations with students about user experience with the platform and also with a formal survey at the end of their grant fellowship.
Reflections and Next Steps
Overall, Brightspace and Teams functionally allowed for certain components, but did not offer a streamlined way to assess both student and major category tracking. Airtable offers all of the functionality that is needed to easily store content and track student engagement, but the downside to Airtable is the cost. In order to have multiple apps embedded and multiple people editing, the platform charges a fee per person per month. While the functionality Airtable offers is superior to what was found on Brightspace and Teams, the cost alone might make it an unsustainable option in the long run.