Review of LAK15, LACE Team Participation and the Event Amplification

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LAK15, the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics And Knowledge

LAK15 proceedingsLAK15, the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics And Knowledge , is currently taking place in by Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Workshop sessions and tutorials were held on Monday and Tuesday with the main conference taking place from 18-20 March 2015.

The Conference Proceedings

The Twitter hashtag for the event is #lak15. I have been following tweets from the event during the week and was particularly pleased to read a tweet posted yesterday in which George Siemens announced the availability of the conference proceedings:

Of interest for attendees and others: 2015 proceedings are now in ACM Digital Library:

From the front cover, program chairs’ welcome  and table of contents (PDF format) I discovered the proceedings came to a total of over 434 pages. As shown the proceedings for individual papers and sessions are available as individual files which makes it easier to download and read papers of particular interest.

As described in a recent post on LACE Team Activities at LAK15 published on this blog members of the EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project have been actively involved in the LAK15 conference. I’m pleased to be able to provide links to the following papers and introductions to workshop sessions:

  • Developing an evaluation framework of quality indicators for learning analytics, Maren Scheffel, Hendrik Drachsler, Marcus Specht, DOI: 10.1145/2723576.2723629. [PDF]
    Summary:
    This paper presents results from the continuous process of developing an evaluation framework of quality indicators for learning analytics (LA). Building on a previous study, a group concept mapping approach that uses multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering, the study presented here applies the framework to a collection of LA tools in order to evaluate the framework. Using the quantitative and qualitative results of this study, the first version of the framework was revisited so as to allow work towards an improved version of the evaluation framework of quality indicators for LA.
  • Examining engagement: analysing learner subpopulations in massive open online courses (MOOCs), Rebecca Ferguson, Doug Clow, DOI: 10.1145/2723576.2723606. [PDF]
    Summary:
    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are now being used across the world to provide millions of learners with access to education. Many learners complete these courses successfully, or to their own satisfaction, but the high numbers who do not finish remain a subject of concern for platform providers and educators. In 2013, a team from Stanford University analysed engagement patterns on three MOOCs run on the Coursera platform. They found four distinct patterns of engagement that emerged from MOOCs based on videos and assessments. However, not all platforms take this approach to learning design. Courses on the FutureLearn platform are underpinned by a social-constructivist pedagogy, which includes discussion as an important element. In this paper, we analyse engagement patterns on four FutureLearn MOOCs and find that only two clusters identified previously apply in this case. Instead, we see seven distinct patterns of engagement: Samplers, Strong Starters, Returners, Mid-way Dropouts, Nearly There, Late Completers and Keen Completers. This suggests that patterns of engagement in these massive learning environments are influenced by decisions about pedagogy. We also make some observations about approaches to clustering in this context.
  • Learning analytics: European perspectives, Rebecca Ferguson, Adam Cooper, Hendrik Drachsler, Gábor Kismihók, Anne Boyer, Kairit Tammets, Alejandra Martínez Monés , DOI: 10.1145/2723576.2723637. [PDF]
    Summary:
    Since the emergence of learning analytics in North America, researchers and practitioners have worked to develop an international community. The organization of events such as SoLAR Flares and LASI Locals, as well as the move of LAK in 2013 from North America to Europe, has supported this aim. There are now thriving learning analytics groups in North American, Europe and Australia, with smaller pockets of activity emerging on other continents. Nevertheless, much of the work carried out outside these forums, or published in languages other than English, is still inaccessible to most people in the community. This panel, organized by Europe’s Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project, brings together researchers from five European countries to examine the field from European perspectives. In doing so, it will identify the benefits and challenges associated with sharing and developing practice across national boundaries.
  • Ethical and privacy issues in the application of learning analytics, Hendrik Drachsler, Tore Hoel, Maren Scheffel, Gábor Kismihók, Alan Berg, Rebecca Ferguson, Weiqin Chen, Adam Cooper, Jocelyn Manderveld, DOI: 10.1145/2723576.2723642. [PDF]
    Summary:
    The large-scale production, collection, aggregation, and processing of information from various learning platforms and online environments have led to ethical and privacy concerns regarding potential harm to individuals and society. In the past, these types of concern have impacted on areas as diverse as computer science, legal studies and surveillance studies. Within a European consortium that brings together the EU project LACE, the SURF SIG Learning Analytics, the Apereo Foundation and the EATEL SIG dataTEL, we aim to understand the issues with greater clarity, and to find ways of overcoming the issues and research challenges related to ethical and privacy aspects of learning analytics practice. This interactive workshop aims to raise awareness of major ethics and privacy issues. It will also be used to develop practical solutions to advance the application of learning analytics technologies.
  • The 3rd LAK data competition, Hendrik Drachsler, Stefan Dietze, Eelco Herder, Mathieu d’Aquin, Davide Taibi, Maren Scheffel, DOI: 10.1145/2723576.2723641. [PDF]
    Summary:
    The LAK Data Challenge 2015 continues the research efforts of the previous data competitions in 2013 and 2014 by stimulating research on the evolving fields Learning Analytics (LA) and Educational Data Mining (EDM). Building on a series of activities of the LinkedUp project, the challenge aims to generate new insights and analysis on the LA & EDM disciplines and is supported through the LAK Dataset – a unique corpus of LA & EDM literature, exposed in structured and machine-readable formats.

I hope these papers and introductions to workshop sessions will be of interest to readers of this blog.

LAK15 Case Studies Published on the LACE Learning Analytics Review

In addition to the papers and workshop sessions organised or provided by members of the LACE team, we were also involved in publishing three case studies which were (or will be)presented at LAK15 conference. As described in a post entitled New Learning Analytics Practitioner Case Studies for #LAK15 “To coincide with the LAK15 (Learning Analytics and Knowledge) conference Scaling Up: Big Data to Big Impact  LACE is publishing three papers in the Learning Analytics Review which will be presented in the practitioner track of the conference”.

In the first paper, OU Analyse: Analysing At-Risk Students at The Open University, Jakub Kuzilek, Martin Hlosta, Drahomira Herrmannova, Zdenek Zdrahal, Jonas Vaclavek and Annika Wolff  explore how learning analytics can be used to identify “at risk” students at The Open University using OU Analyse. The authors, describe the project:

The second paper by Yianna Vovides, Thomas Youmans, Paige Arthur, Daniel Davis, Rob Pongsajapan and Mindy McWilliams presents a case study from GeorgeTown University where they are using linguistic analysis to analyse cognitive presence in a MOOC.

In the third paper Jeff Grann describes the FlexPath programme at Capella University where adult learners are assessed using a Competency Map rather than the traditional route of contact hours.

Event Amplification

As I mentioned earlier the organisers of the LAK15 conference have been pro-active in supporting the event amplification. Coincidentally a few days ago I read a pre-print of a paper on “Twitter, Knowledge Creation and Academic Freedom in a Digital Era“.  The paper described the trend in recent years towards amplified or, in the words of the paper, augmented, conference:

Traditionally, academic conferences have provided scholars a constellation of  opportunities that have made it worthwhile to travel to such meetings. At academic  conferences, scholars can present their work in preliminary form and get feedback from interested, knowledgeable peers. Conversely, one can hear others’ work presented and offer constructive criticism and point the way forward to solving methodological problems and suggest overlooked theoretical explanations. Conferences are also an opportunity to meet geographically distant colleagues in less formal  settings such as hallway discussions between sessions and at social gatherings outside the conference proceedings.

The traditional academic conference experience is now being augmented by a parallel conference experience happening simultaneously on Twitter. For each aspect of traditional, face‐to‐face conferences there is now a different calculus for the digitally networked academic. Take first the issue of travel to conferences. With shrinking budgets in higher education institutions and growing concern about the environmental impact of travel, many academics are re‐considering travel to academic conferences. Often, if there is a Twitter hashtag and a live video stream for the conference, academics may choose to stay home and follow the conference online. At the very least, the possibility of a Twitter hashtag for a conference allows most academics to be more discerning about whether or not travel to a conference is worthwhile.

For those who attend an academic conference in person, Twitter can change that experience rather dramatically. When presenting preliminary work, if someone is sharing live Tweets from a session, it is possible to get feedback from interested, knowledgeable peers from a geographically dispersed area beyond just the people assembled in the conference meeting room. And, one can listen to the work of other scholars and offer criticism and suggest alternative methodologies and  explanations to those of the author.

Twitter backchannel communications at academic conferences can also help people schedule those crucial but informal, social connections in real time. Actually finding the scholar you  traveled to a onference to meet was once a challenge at traditional conferences. Meeting organizers have used a range of  technologies – from paper notes pinned to corkboards, to an electronic message system with names of people with messages in a proprietary message system scrolling up a screen – most with limited success. For digitally networked scholars following a conference hashtag is the best way to find each other, make a plan to meet up, and join other social gatherings at conferences. For scholars who are familiar with each other through Twitter, the intimidating face‐badge prestige scan of many conferences is replaced by a warm hello from a colleague recognized in three‐dimensions from a two‐inch‐by‐two‐inch avatar image (Daniels and Feagin, 2011).

In order to help to maximise the benefits of Twitter at LAK15 an archive of #LAK15 tweets has been created using the TAGS archiving tool developed by Martin Hawksey. In addition to this automated archive of all conference tweets a manually curated archive of #EP4LA tweets has been created using the Storify tool in order to provide a record of the tweets for the workshop organised by the LACE team on Ethics and Privacy in Learning Analytics  (EP4LA).

The event amplification has also been helped by speakers who have uploaded their slides to the Slideshare repository, especially if they have tagged their slides with the “LAK15” tag to facilitate discovery of relevant slides used at the LAK15 conference.

Finally I was pleased to see tweet which announced the live video streaming of the opening plenary talks during the conference:

Can’t make it to #lak15? Catch the keynotes live here starting tomorrow: lak15.solaresearch.org/streaming

Note that the vieo stream of the opening plenary talk on the second day is due to begin in 30 minutes. Enjoy!


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About Author

Brian Kelly is the Innovation Advocate at Cetis (Centre for Educational Technology, Interoperability and Standards). Brian has an interest in helping to embed innovative technologies and practices in higher education. Brian embraces open practices in his work, in particular through his UK Web Focus blog and his @briankelly Twitter account. Brian is managing the LACE WP2 on user engagement and outreach.

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