Learning analytics: next steps


European funding for the LACE project has now come to an end. We are beginning to move from fully funded project to special interest group. This means it is a good time to consider the next steps for learning analytics.

In the last year, LACE has worked with the LAEP project (Learning Analytics for European Educational Policy). Our findings suggest that those of us working with analytics need to focus on certain key areas.

  1. Strategy: We should align our work with strategic objectives and priority areas for education and training. We also need to develop a framework for learning analytics. By linking research and funding to this framework, we will avoid duplicating effort and neglecting important work.
  2. Research and Development: Four strands of work are important in this area. We need pedagogies that make good use of analytics. We also need analytics that address strategic objectives and technologies that will help us to deploy those analytics.
  3. Infrastructure and Capability: We need better data handling capability and organisational structures that support the use of learning analytics. Using an Evidence Hub will help us to share our experience and identify areas for development.
  4. Context: We need to adapt our practices to suit regional priorities. We also need to adapt our work for different sectors of education. Introducing learning analytics is not cheap, so we need successful financial models.
  5. Standards: Quality standards and ethical standards will mean that low-grade analytics do not block the use of effective analytics. Interoperability standards will help systems to work together. We also need open approaches to learning analytics, robust quality assurance processes and analytics that are aligned with assessment practices.
  6. Skills: A wide range of people will want to develop new skills. A first step will be to identify which skills are required. Once this has been done, we can ensure researchers and developers are well trained. We can also support educational leaders to implement the necessary changes, and help educators and learners to use analytics to support achievement.
  7. Outreach: At each stage it will be important to engage and involve stakeholders. It will also be important to support collaboration with commercial organisations and promote awareness of learning analytics.

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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