Learning analytics don’t just measure students’ progress

Tore TweetMy article ‘Learning analytics don’t just measure students’ progress – they can shape it‘, appeared online in The Guardian education today, in the ‘extreme learning’ section.

In it, I argue that we should not apply learning analytics to the things we can measure easily, but to those that we value, including the development of crucial skills such as reflection, collaboration, linking ideas and writing clearly.

I also link to the #laceproject – Learning Analytics Community Exchange – a European-funded project on learning analytics.

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Setting learning analytics in context

Panel tweetI organised a panel at Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2014 (LAK14) in Indianapolis on ‘Setting learning analytics in context: overcoming the barriers to large-scale adoption’.

Thanks to Shirley Alexander, Shane Dawson, Leah Macfadyen and Doug Clow for making it a great event, and commiserations to Alfred Essa who couldn’t make it at the last minute due to a cancelled flight.


Once learning analytics have been successfully developed and tested, the next step is to implement them at a larger scale – across a faculty, an institution or an educational system. This introduces a new set of challenges, because education is a stable system, resistant to change. Implementing learning analytics at scale involves working with the entire technological complex that exists around technology-enhanced learning (TEL). This includes the different groups of people involved – learners, educators, administrators and support staff – the practices of those groups, their understandings of how teaching and learning take place, the technologies they use and the specific environments within which they operate. Each element of the TEL Complex requires explicit and careful consideration during the process of implementation, in order to avoid failure and maximise the chances of success. In order for learning analytics to be implemented successfully at scale, it is crucial to provide not only the analytics and their associated tools but also appropriate forms of support, training and community building.

The Slideshare below includes my sections of the panel presentation, and not the excellent presentations from the other speakers.

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Discourse-centric learning analytics: DCLA14

Tweet about DCLA14I was one of the chairs of the Second International Workshop on Discourse-centric Learning Analytics (DCLA14), which ran as part of the Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2014 (LAK14) conference in Indianapolis.

Workshop notes available on Google Docs.

Programme overview

9:00 Chairs’ Welcome & Participant Lightning Intros

9.30 DCLA14: some questions to ponder… Rebecca Ferguson

9.45 DCLA Meet CIDA: Collective Intelligence Deliberation Analytics [pdf]

Simon Buckingham Shum, Anna De Liddo and Mark Klein

10.45 Automated Linguistic Analysis as a Lens for Analysis of Group Learning [pdf]

Carolyn Penstein Rosé

11.30 Designing and Testing Visual Representations of Draft Essays for Higher Education Students [pdf]

Denise Whitelock, Debora Field, John T. E. Richardson, Nicolas Van Labeke and Stephen Pulman

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Future Internet Assembly, Athens

I was invited to attend the Future Internet Assembly in Athens, where I took part in a panel discussion: ‘Beyond MOOCs: The Future of Learning on the Future Internet‘. The FIA website includes video footage of the entire panel.

I spoke on my experience with the FutureLearn platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). Since running its first course in September, FutureLearn now has more than a quarter of a million registered users and over half a million course sign ups.

I talked about the benefits that massive participation can offer to learners, educators and to society and about some of  the implications of MOOCs for the future of the internet, with a particular focus on authentication, interoperability and accessibility.

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Rethinking Education

I was recently invited to Stockholm, to speak at the ‘Rethinking Education‘ conference run by the Ratio Institute. The conference objective was ‘to focus on the need to design for the future education and skills systems that enable young people and adults to develop the knowledge and skills needed in the labour market, as well as for personal development and important societal goals.’

My focus was on the benefits and challenges offered by MOOCs, with particular reference to FutureLearn.

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Publication statistics

ORO statistics

My ORO downloadstatistics

Our institutional research database, Open Research Online (ORO), has just released figures on the downloads for individual researchers.

The image shows my figures to date.

It is interesting to see how these compare with the citation figures that appear in Google Scholar.

For example, my thesis – The Construction of Shared Knowledge through Asynchronous Dialogue – has been cited twelve times to date, according to Google Scholar. Yet it has been downloaded 680 times from ORO, meaning that its reach is greater than the citations might indicate.

That figure also shows that uploading theses hugely increases their accessibility. I have ordered paper versions of theses and have found that they have only been signed out on two or three occasions – now they are much more easily discoverable, citable and applicable.

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LACE – Learning Analytics Community Exchange

The LACE team

The LACE team

From 20-22 January, I was in Brussels for the kick-off meeting of the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE).

The LACE project brings together existing key European players in the field of learning analytics and educational data mining (EDM), who are committed to build communities of practice and share emerging best practice in order to make progress towards four objectives:

1. Promote knowledge creation and exchange
2. Increase the evidence base
3. Contribute to the definition of future directions
4. Build consensus on interoperability and data sharing

This will involve organising a range of activities designed to integrate people carrying out or making use of learning analytics and ED research and development. LACE will also develop an ‘evidence hub’ that will bring together a knowledge base of evidence in the field. Members will also explore plausible futures for the field.

Core partners

Open Universiteit Nederland, Netherlands
Cetis, the Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards at the University of Bolton, UK
The Open University, UK
Infinity Technology Solutions, Italy
Skolverket, the Swedish National Agency for Education, Sweden
Kennisnet, Netherlands
Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus, Norway
ATiT, Audiovisual Technologies, Informatics and Telecommunications, Belgium
EDEN, the European Distance Education Network, Hungary

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