Learning Analytics: Notes on the Future

“People who read this book also read these…”
“People whom you follow also follow this person…”
“Users who liked this movie also rate these ones…”

Replay the webinar (last talk on the programme)

We’re growing increasingly used to the idea that wherever we go and whatever we do online, we leave “data exhaust” or “digital vapour trails”, to borrow two compelling images. In other words, the platforms we use record that we visited, and particularly when we register with a trusted site, it starts to build a profile of who we are, and what – or whom – we might be most interested in.

One of the fastest growing fields of interest to LEnet is therefore Learning Analytics — the use of web analytics and recommendation engine technology to track and personalise learning (in contrast to shopping or social networking). The vendors of virtual learning environments will soon be advertising how well their platforms can “track learning” and provide “digital dashboards” to inform educators abut their students’ progress. But what will these tools really be capable of measuring, and what are the implications of acting on the – necessarily  simplified – models of learning that a software platform will have?

Simon Buckingham Shum was the closing invited speaker for a 6 week Learning Analytics MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), a free, open source series of webinars and online forums to explore the emerging shape and future of the field. His talk explored some of the future developments of the field – slides above, plus a link to the webinar replay. Amongst things, this highlighted the challenge of devising deeper learning analytics, pointing by way of example to the intersection of work between The Open University’s R&D in learning technologies, and University of Bristol’s pedagogical work on Learning Power and Authentic Enquiry.

This course ran in the build-up to the 1st International Conference on Learning and Knowledge Analytics in Banff, Alberta, February 27-March 1, 2011, at which Simon also spoke on Theory-Based Learning Anlaytics and Discourse Centric-Learning Analytics.