The recent widening of interest in learning analytics and EDM beyond a small community of experts means that we are not able to predict which topics will emerge as being “hot” or of particular interest during the project. Even the research community considers itself to be “young” and it is striking to note that the 1st International Conference on Learning and Knowledge Analytics (LAK11) occurred merely 3 years ago. Hence, it would be premature for LACE to specify the key topics; we must be able to capture them as they arise. This presents us with a problem, because we need structure to help interested parties to engage in our activities or to navigate the information we gather and create. A loose framework is defined to help us deal with this problem and to provide us with a means to structure our work. This framework is depicted below.
At the intersection between Thematic Group and Sector we can describe an idealised interaction: policy and research shape new practice, practice should inform research, and policy should be informed by research and practice. The project aims to promote useful interactions at these points but also to make conceptual connections and open channels of communication that will increase knowledge cross-over.
The thematic groups are defined as follows:
- Content & Resources will include the production, use and management of resources with educational value. These are likely to be mostly digital resources but need not be so. The opportunities analytics opens up for enhancing the quality of intentionally educational resources, for aiding resource discovery and for the creation of “smart content” all come under this thematic group.
- Support for Learning will include analytics to inform or guide both teachers and learners. Support for reflective practice, for course design, for early warning of difficulty, for identification of need, etc are all part of this thematic group.
- Assessment & Performance will be concerned with the application or design of objective measures of what a person can do, knows etc. This thematic group includes the use of analytics to enable new forms of assessment, to make assessment in authentic contexts a viable proposition, to increase the status of non-traditional assessment instruments, and to generally enrich the range of assessment and feedback methods.
From those initial thematic groups, LACE reacted on the pressing needs of the European Learning Analytics Community and addressed the following groups in our studies: