Learning Analytics – powerful and promising, however you define it.
Yes, learning analytics has become a buzzword. And at this early stage, definitions abound. However you define it, learning analytics is one of the key developments in higher education, as these articles attest.
At its core, learning analytics is about capturing the right data; reporting data; analyzing data; and acting on the data to improve the student experience and outcomes. Technology will make the process of capturing and manipulating data scalable, affordable and ultimately better.
Each week in Acrobatiq Annotations we’ll share curated articles and resources about relevant topics in online higher education.
Data-Driven Online Course Design and Effective Practices
Mary R. Grant, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Continuing Higher Education Review, Vol. 76, 2012
In this paper, Grant offers a useful discussion on the value of data in higher education, and makes a distinction between “academic analytics” and “learning analytics.”
- Academic analytics – essentially the application of “business intelligence” to higher education – focuses on administrative and institutional concerns, such as student retention, distribution of funds, and the like.
- Learning analytics concerns student performance and behaviors in courses and programs. Grant uses the term “learning analytics” broadly. She includes most of anything concerned with teaching and learning.
Excerpt: “Analytics is more than evaluating what learners have done or predicting what they will do, it is about restructuring teaching and learning strategies to repurpose pedagogical paradigms and academic systems. Learning analytics is only as effective as the institutional capacity to accept and encourage a data-driven model of assessment”. (185)
Data Changes Everything: Delivering on the Promise of Learning Analytics in Higher Education
Ellen D. Wagner, Phil Ice, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 47, no. 4, 2012
This article provides a high level overview of the evolving learning analytics landscape. The authors make comparisons to other sectors (advertising, Major League Baseball) to help readers imagine how analytics can be applied to higher ed.
“The recent movie Moneyball, based on the 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, tells the story of how the Oakland Athletics applied the principles of what became known as “sabermetrics” to analyze every aspect of their game…. It is not a story of how statistics saved the day for Oakland, any more than collecting more and more data on everything we do in higher education is going to save the day for colleges and universities.
Like Grant’s paper, Wagner and Ice also define learning analytics broadly – including teaching and learning activities, as well as administrative functions. This broad definition differs from ours at Acrobatiq. We focus on learning-centric issues, rather than mere signals of student presence, which can be useful, but misleading.
Leadership and Learning Analytics
Veronica Diaz and Shelli Fowler, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, Nov 2012
This brief is based on a 2012 event during which participants considered learning analytics in the context of leadership and institutional change. A particularly interesting aspect of the paper is the degree to which the participants hold out great hopes and expectations for analytics to not merely capture information, but to drive institutional change in higher education.
“Developing and employing learning analytics that can help us envision and build a new model for improving teaching and learning—a tool with both the scope and depth to become a foundational driver of systemic change—requires more than a change-management approach. The widespread adoption of learning analytics that can foster significant results and drive systemic change requires us to develop a change-leadership mind-set.” (2)
Analytics is not simply a new tool to help us do what we’ve always done, but more efficiently, but a means of changing the institution. In this context, the paper’s focus on leadership is especially apt.