Learning analytics: bridging the gaps


LASI@MK logoThe LACE project supported a Learning Analytics Summer Institute event in the UK – LASI@MK.

The event highlighted the need for engagement and dialogue between communities in order to develop insight and institutional change. It is increasingly clear that introducing learning analytics involves much more than collecting data and developing appropriate algorithms – there is a need for systemic change. Within a university, we need analytics at all levels, with quantitative data to give us a picture of what is happening, and qualitative data to help us understand why it is happening.

At MIT, Shreeharsh Kelkar is currently looking at the inter-relationships of different groupings from an ethnographic perspective and examining how expert communities negotiate the division of labour in the workplace. Software engineers, learning researchers and educators may work on the same project, but with different expectations and using different languages and working practices.

In Australia, Shaun Boyd (NMIT) is dealing with different groupings across his institution, and working on ways of making connections between people and data. Currently, ‘with learning analytics you can see stuff, but it’s cloudy – we want to clear the cloud’. Next steps will including recording and investigating sources of data that are relevant to learning and teaching, strategically and systematically organizing the data, and making it possible for teachers to access the data and use it effectively.

Doug Clow (LACE) pointed to the varying speed of change and impact of various stakeholders. Learners can react to analytics and make changes very fast. Educators are slightly slower, but can affect more people. Managers have slower impact but on more people, and policymakers can have a huge impact, but it takes a long time.

Overall, LASI@MK participants were working on ways of implementing analytics across an institution, from developing standards and ethical practices, to presenting comprehensible visualisations to learners in different faculties.

The Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI) is an annual event run by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR), which is associated with smaller-scale LASI Local events around the world. LASI@MK, held at The Open University in Milton Keynes, was one of the LASI Locals organized in 2014.


About Author

Rebecca is a lecturer at The Open University in the UK, focused on educational futures, learning analytics, MOOCs, augmented learning and online social learning. She is a member of the steering committee of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and was Workshops Chair of the second Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference (LAK 2012). She co-chaired the 1st and 2nd International Workshops on Discourse-Centric Learning Analytics, held in Belgium and the US, as well as the first UK SoLAR Flare (a national learning analytics event). Her most recent publication is the book ‘Augmented Education’, published by Palgrave in May 2014. Rebecca is working on the LACE work package relating to learning analytics in higher education.

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