Surveys for Open Learning Analytics

The Learning Emergence Platform – Surveys for Open Learning Analytics (SOLA) is a specialist online survey platform powered by Blue by eXplorance ( to host research-validated evaluation surveys which provide rapid feedback for improvement. These are available to ‘networked improvement communities’ (NICs) to support research and development projects through which purposeful collective action is designed and undertaken, to solve complex problems and improve performance at scale

What is the vision for SOLA?

The SOLA platform will be part of the hub of international research into NICs, providing (i) the means to collect and curate data for stakeholder derived measurement models, (ii) rapid feedback to users at all levels (iii) system-wide data analysis and (iv) the capability to link with other forms of relevant data. This collaboration in a shared platform it itself an example of a NIC, ensuring financial sustainability for all users and facilitating shared ‘meta’ learning about improvement processes through the international Learning Emergence network (

What does the platform do?

Practical, reliable and valid social science surveys form an important part of learning for individuals and organisations and provide key data for leadership decisioning.

This research-oriented survey platform is designed to stimulate learning and change through the rapid feedback of data to users. This use of reliable and valid diagnostic assessment tools is a key element of a learning infrastructure which attends to the processes of learning as well as the outcomes: in other words one in which learning is understood as a complex process defined by learners themselves, in authentic contexts. Rapid feedback of data from diagnostic tools to enhance learning capabilities and performance can be used by individuals, teams and organisations. Essentially it is data for decision support aligned to a shared purpose.

The SOLA platform, powered by Blue, is capable of standing alone or forming a module in a wider virtual learning environment which may integrate with other learning support infrastructures, such as social learning platforms for example Declara  (e.g., knowledge structuring tools such as Perimeta (, Evidence Hubs( and apps such as Enquiry Blogger (

SOLA is solely concerned with providing diagnostic learning tools with rapid feedback. It does not provide the surveys themselves, nor ancillary services.

 Value Proposition

 Individuals, organisations and ‘NICs’ who are partners in the Learning Emergence Network can access bespoke, research-validated surveys which provide data for individual and team reflection and diagnosis, stimulating self-directed change for orchestration into organizational and system-wide improvement.

The rapid feedback afforded by the platform, for individuals, teams and leaders, reduces the traditional time lag between research and practice.

A world-class technical platform enables the visualization of complex data for real time practitioner reflection, improvement and leadership decisioning.

The collection of data, warehoused by eXplorance, allows for secondary data analysis in interdisciplinary research and development. The data-set already collected is to our knowledge the largest in the world and, with planned expansion and enrichment, is set to be unique.

The eXplorance platform’s API integration mechanisms enable access through other platforms in a learning ecosystem and integration with other datasets (quantitative and qualitative). Data may in the future also be imported from other platforms. These can be combined to support the core processes of ‘learning journeys’ – purposing, generating learning power, knowledge structuring, performing.

Key Activities

The purpose of the SOLA is to provide access to secure, research-validated surveys offering rapid feedback for organizational improvement. The service provided by SOLA includes advice and guidance for selecting and accessing surveys and the registration of survey users.

Hand-Off Services

Where organizations require research and development support, for example, research and development design, consultancy and training to optimize impact, or data analysis services, the SOLA team can make recommendations from the wider Learning Emergence network or its Associates.

Key survey tools: CLARA: Crick Learning for Resilient Agency Profile (research only); Huang Assessment of Authentic Pedagogy Surveys, McCombs Assessment of Learner Centred Practices Surveys, Goldspink & Kay World View Reflection tool. The platform allows users to generate and validate new surveys for bespoke measurement models.

Summary of Key Resources available through SOLA

  • A world-class technical company and survey platform: eXplorance and Blue Surveys
  • Hosting and maintenance from eXplorance
  • Learning Emergence Admin technical support for user partners
  • Learning Emergence Admin capability
  • Research validated tools via Learning Emergence Networks
  • Key Learning Emergence partners able to work virtually and flexibly

Relationships with SOLA R&D Partners

Collaboration is the key quality of SOLA’s relationships with users and providers, through professional research partnerships. These will build naturally on those research partnerships within the network established over ten years.

Research partners will be invited to co-create new knowledge, know-how and tools.

Creative Commons licensing will be the norm. This is because we believe that value should be derived from knowledge and know-how and the dynamic application of ideas through service, rather than from ‘static products’ or IP ownership. However, we recognise the possibility of the need for proprietary products and IP protection in certain cases.

The Learning Emergence Network and SOLA have a commitment to sustainability: environmental, social and political, diversity & inclusion: of people, ideas, groups and professional responsibility: self-organising individuals, teams and organisations serving a common ‘good’.

The Business Model: Learning Emergence Limited Liability Partnership

SOLA is an investment project of the Learning Emergence Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This is an alternative corporate business vehicle that gives the benefits of limited liability but allows its members the flexibility of organising their internal structure as a traditional partnership (See The LLP has formal Members, referred to as Partners. There are no shareholders.

The funds for SOLA have been raised through ‘crowd-sourcing’ within the wider Learning Emergence Network. The ‘crowd’ includes key individuals and founding user partners. The LLP is an appropriate vehicle for this initiative because it provides a collaborative structure, which incentivizes members to succeed. An LLP can house any number of ‘Investment Projects’, each with its own governance architecture, and individuals can enter and leave easily according to the agreed partnership rules. It can therefore provide an effective vehicle for incubating new projects, allowing innovation within a supportive framework and management environment.

All proposed Associate Members of SOLA are active members of the Learning Emergence Network, which will be the ‘brand’ for the web-presence of the business, whilst the Learning Emergence LLP may have a simple web-page within the site.

Open Learning Analytics

Open Learning Analytics is a term first proposed by the Society for Learning Analytics Research in a 2011 white paper envisioning the future trajectory of learning analytics platforms. An Open Learning Analytics Summit was subsequently held in 2014 in partnership with the Apereo Foundation. “Open” can mean a range of things in different contexts. In SOLA, it has the following meanings:

Open Source Software: since we have chosen a specialist service provider (eXplorance) to host the infrastructure in their Blue product, this component is not open source. However additional systems which are interoperable with Blue May be OSS.

Open Licensing of other materials: Creative Commons licensing of some survey tools is encouraged

Open Datasets: within a trusted research community, data will be shared within an ethical research framework

Interoperability via openly documented APIs or web services: Blue comes with an API so that SOLA can play as one element in an analytics ecosystem

Learning Emergence SOLA: Partners

Simon Buckingham-Shum: Director of the Connected Intelligence Centre University of Technology Sydney. Co-founder of Learning Emergence network.

Tim Coburn: Corporate Learning and Development Specialist working with global companies on leadership and transformation projects.

Tim Crick: MD of Decisioning Blueprints, formerly senior manager at RBSG, with a background in design and delivery of customer communication & decision management systems. Designated Member of Learning Emergence LLP.

Roger Davies: Value Management and Systems Dynamic Modelling specialist. Research at the University of Bristol

Ruth Deakin Crick: Reader in Systems Learning and Leadership at the University of Bristol and CI on International Centre for Infrastructure Futures, leading on the learning framework. Visiting Professor at University of Technology Sydney. Designated Member of Learning Emergence LLP.

Chris Goldspink: Director of Research at Incept Labs in Sydney.

Shaofu Huang: SOLA business manager, data analyst and research associate on the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures at the University of Bristol.

Kai Ren: Research Partner based in Xian in China. Manager of Chinese network and provider of access to research projects and partnerships.

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