Learning Analytics in the Norwegian school system

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After the blog post on LA in Danish schools, we continue with Norway. Senior advisor Morten Dahl at the Norwegian Centre for ICT in education describes the current situation in Norway.

Morten Dahl, The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education:

The State of Art of Learning Analytics in Norwegian Schools

The Norwegian K-12 system is organised as a balancing act between national policies (by law or regulations) and a local responsibility for choosing appropriate tools and pedagogical models. Learning Analytics has until now been outside of both central and local responsibilities, leaving the field open to actors in the Norwegian and international EdTech business. This situation will probably continue, as local school authorities are generally small and need to cooperate, while there are no data format definitions in place and no national incentives for data sharing. In addition, school authorities are often lacking the ICT or statistical competency to do their own analysis.

The May 2015 Lace report “Data Sharing Requirements and Roadmap” sites two Norwegian case studies: Conexus, a leading Norwegian learning anaytics vendor, and Gyldendal Undervisning, a publisher collaborating with Knewton for personalised content. There are other commercial examples, but (as far as we know) no learning analytics activity originating at school authority level. At present learning analytics is a commercial service – stand-alone or embedded in digital learning resources.

While there is no central regulation concerning learning analytics at present, the Norwegian government has in 2015 etablished a national centre for learning analytics, located at the University of Bergen. This “Centre for The Science of Learning and Technology ” (SLATE) will receive a yearly grant of 25 million NOK for a five years period, while the university itself will add 40 million NOK for the same period.

The scope of the centre, which will be headed by professor Barbara Wasson, has recently been presented: “SLATE will generate empirical knowledge with relevance for educational practice in the broadest sense, at the intersection of learning, learners, technology, and pedagogical practice and advance the frontiers of all the sciences of learning and technology through integrated research.”

SLATE will not be restricted to K-12, as the focus of the centre will be challenges “related to learning and technology in all facets of human learning throughout a lifetime.”

The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education maintains a website for raising awareness about learning analytics, targeting school authorities, principals and teachers. (https://iktsenteret.no/ressurser/laeringsanalyse – Norwegian only). It includes a brief overview of the current privacy concerns by the Department of Private Law at the University of Oslo, pertaining to learning anlytics for students. The conclusion is that unless school authorities can adher to the central privacy principle of the individual´s right to have control and codecision in the use of personal data, the use of learning analytics will be unlawful.

An informal spin-off group from Standard Norway’s mirror committee for international standardisation of learning technologies (SN/K 186), has started preliminary work on framing three challenges facing the use of learning analysis in education:

  • The need for and usefulness of an ethical framework for learning analytics
  • The need for a common policy for access to public data
  • The need for common formats and structures for data interchange between learning analytics actors

The aim is to present a recommendation for further work to the SN/K 186. The end result may be one or more Norwegian standards for the practical use of learning analytics.

Other unsolved challenges:

How do you do consent when the data subject is a minor?

If education is compulsory, can anybody opt-out of data collection and learning analytics?

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About Author

Dr Jan Hylén specializes in strategic analysis and has completed research for UNESCO, the OECD, the European Union, and education organizations in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. He has a background as Director of Research at the National Agency for Education and as a former Special Advisor to the Swedish Minister of Schools. Jan earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at Stockholm University and currently resides in Stockholm, Sweden.

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