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April 12, 2012 / dlitgroup

Learning Analytics: Dream or Nightmare?

Analytics may in time come to be used to judge you-as a learner, as an educator, or as an institution. We need to go in with our eyes wide open, to debate what it means for this new breed of performance indicators, with pedagogical and ethical integrity. What can and should we do, and what are the limits? Do they advance or wind the clock back on what we know to be important in learning and what it means to be an education institution in the 21st century? Participants will (1) discover what can make learning analytics more than just generic analytics at school, (2) review some of the most commonly expressed concerns about learning analytics, and (3) consider some ideas about why social learning analytics are important.

Simon Buckingham Shum
Assoc. Director (Technology) & Senior Lecturer Knowledge Media
The Open University
  • Blind Analytics
    • How do see the whole story.  A student may be falling behind because of a large array of personal concerns or life issues.
    • Students often go through the motions but switched off regarding their own learning.
  • Educators and Researcher Concerns
    • Measurement tools are not neutral.  Accounting tools… do not simply aid the measurement of economic activity, they shape the reality that they measure…
    • Computing the uncomputable? The dangers of computational reductionsism for learning analytics.
    • Beyond big data hubris: 1) Automating research changes the definition of knowledge, 2) claims to objectivity and accuracy are mislearding, 3) Bigger data are not always better data, 4) Not all data are equivalent, 5) Just because it is accessible doesn’t mean it is ethical, 6) Limited access to data creates a new digital divide.
    • Dear student / dear faculty / dear university – here are your performance indicators…
    • The key is to handle data with integrity.
  • Learning Analytics?
    • Business vs Learning
      • Theory based analytics
      • ANY analytic is an implicit theory of the world, in that it is a model, selecting specific data and claiming it as an adequate proxy for something more complex…
      • Theory includes assumptions and evidence based findings, statistical models, instructional methods, as well as more academic “theories”
      • The question is whether this has INTEGRITY as a meaningful indicator, and WHO/WHAT ACTS on this data.
      • A mature theory validated by pedagogical practices will tell you APPROPRIATE INTERVENTIONS to take given particular learner patterns.
  • Why are social learning analytics significant?

“The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school, but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn.” Sir Richard Livingstone, 1941


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