What are Learning Analytics?


Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data,” a science that was originally used by businesses to analyze commercial activities, identify spending trends, and predict consumer behavior. The rise of the Internet drove research into big data and metrics as well as the proliferation of web tracking tools, enabling companies to build vast reserves of information they could study and apply to their marketing campaigns. Education is embarking on a similar pursuit into data science with the aim of improving student retention and providing a high quality, personalized experience for learners. Learning analytics research uses data analysis to inform decisions made on every tier of the educational system. Whereas analysts in business use consumer data to target potential customers and personalize advertising, learning analytics leverages student data to build better pedagogies, target at-risk student populations, and assess whether programs designed to improve retention have been effective and should be sustained — outcomes for legislators and administrators that have profound impact. For educators and researchers, learning analytics has been crucial to gaining insights about student interaction with online texts and courseware. Students are beginning to experience the benefits of learning analytics as they engage with mobile and online platforms that track data to create responsive, personalized learning experiences.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016New approaches are evolving in terms of how data can be used to support learning. I think main gains will be through: personalization of learning (powerful feedback mechanisms when coupled with interactivity and fully online learning e.g. game-based). More macro level gains will be made from more sophisticated analysis of cohort comparison studies and single student journey mapping.
  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Jan 20, 2016 my sense is that we are moving ever closer to the point where learning analytic tools can be used to accurately map a students learning in terms of both the challenges and successes. Once we have achieved this we will be able to truely offer a polysynchronous approach to the design of learning materials that can be accessed according to fit.
  • Learning analytics is our future for personalising learning, providing feedback as feedforward to teachers and providing reports to senior university leaders on the impact of interventions through professional development.- mkeppell mkeppell Feb 19, 2016agree- janine.harper janine.harper Feb 21, 2016
  • The real power of learning analytics for higher education will come from integrating it with learning design and the learning sciences. There are now quite a few folks working on this globally and I suspect this will lead to more sophisticated and integrated analytics for improving learning and teaching in the next couple of years. It almost feels like the hype is subsiding and now the quality work is shining through. - jason.lodge jason.lodge Feb 22, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Jan 20, 2016 I think that the current themes are covered but the potential for much greater usage is yet unknown.
  • I think its very important to be clear about the difference between Learning Analytics and Academic Analytics - much of the text above is Academic Analytics, which is to say it's focused on the organisation not the learner and learning process. More could be said about the use of tools like Learning Catalytics http://atg.fas.harvard.edu/learning-catalytics for example. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • Also missing is the intersection between Academic Analytics and accountability/performance measures for institutions. Rich analytics examining individual student activities could be linked to access to study, loans, financial assistance grants etc. to ensure that these resources are targeted at "deserving" students. While that is a bit unlikely it is reasonable to expect that as data is available in aggregate form it will be used by funding agencies to steer the sector. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • The analytics of learning is about the student, the course, the academic, the design, the institution etc - the whole learnign process adn variables associated. Giving students insights into their learning process, giving teaching staff insights about their design, facilitation, cohort behaviour and the institution insights into learning trends to inform future investments.- janine.harper janine.harper Feb 21, 2016
  • As above, the integration of learning analytics, the learning sciences and design for learning are critical for taking the area forward. - jason.lodge jason.lodge Feb 22, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • - s.defreitas s.defreitas Jan 14, 2016Personalising the student experience, feedback for curriculum design and better planning from advanced data analytics of specific cohorts.
  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Jan 20, 2016 I agree with those outlined above
  • - s2.vaughan s2.vaughan Feb 13, 2016 I also agree. I think this is an area of great potential.
  • Learning analytics is used as a catchall for any use of data related to education, it is rarely utilised with the dynamic speed required to inform changes in courses, teaching and assessment to benefit the individual learner with university procedures requiring approval processes that were not designed for such fluidity. Similarly, few programmes or courses are designed to provide the level of customization that would be needed to respond authentically to data available on student learning. Instead it is most often a rebranding of traditional statistical data of cohorts. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016
  • Academic analytics, with identification of student dissatisfaction etc. is more easily measured than learning, though intervention processes remain too laggy for any real benefit to the individual students involved. - j.zagami j.zagami Feb 19, 2016
  • Personalisation and adaptive opportunities- janine.harper janine.harper Feb 21, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - kevinashfordrowe kevinashfordrowe Jan 20, 2016 Australian Catholic University has a number of projects seeking to better understand and apply 'learning analytics' the challenge is to ensure that they are coordinated and pedagogically led (as opposed to technologically or vendor led).
  • - gillysalmon gillysalmon Jan 24, 2016 Ive had a couple of tries without much success and a few tears, but about to prototype at UWA using Blackboard Learning Analytics. Wiki colleagues, all help and recommendations sooo welcome. I'm more interested in linking with rapid and comparative information and feedback for students for more independent motivation and achievement than the 'algorithms to make you stay' types of scenarios.
  • We desperately need more research in this area. My gut feeling is that this has huge potential but, like Gilly, I am more interested in how skilled teachers can use analyses from the data to improve student learning/build better learning environments - geoff.romeo geoff.romeo Jan 24, 2016
  • - s2.vaughan s2.vaughan Feb 13, 2016 we have been doing some work in this area at QUT across a couple of different platforms and emptying a number of different approaches.
  • Clearly there is the OLT project: http://he-analytics.com/. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016

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he potential for academic analytics is often ignored, l