Human-centred learning analytics

The three editors of the special issue, pictured at LAK19: SImon, Rebecca and Roberto Out today – special section of the Journal of Learning Analytics, edited by Simon Buckingham Shum, Roberto Martinez-Maldonado and I. The section was inspired by the focus of the LAK18 conference on user-centred learning analytics.

The special section begins with a paper by Simon, Roberto and I that looks at the benefits and challenges of using human-centred approaches within learning analytics.


The design of effective learning analytics (LA) extends beyond sound technical and pedagogical principles. If analytics are to be adopted and used successfully to support learning and teaching, their design process needs to take into account a range of human factors, including why and how they will be used. In this editorial, we introduce principles of human-centred design developed in other, related fields that can be adopted and adapted to support the development of human-centred learning analytics (HCLA). We draw on the papers in this special section, together with the wider literature, to define human-centred design in the field of LA and to identify the benefits and challenges that this approach offers. We conclude by suggesting that HCLA will enable the community to achieve more impact, more quickly, with tools that are fit for the purpose and a pleasure to use.


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Pedagogía Innovadora 2019

Cover of the report in SpanishThe 2020 Innovating Pedagogy report is now available in Spanish, thanks to a team at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico.

Esta serie de informes explora nuevas formas de enseñanza, aprendizaje y evaluación para un mundo interactivo, guiando a los maestros y administradores educativos en la innovación productiva. Este séptimo informe propone diez innovaciones en práctica, pero que aún no han 2 tenidounaprofundainfluenciaenla educación. Para producir el informe, un grupo de académicos del Instituto de Tecnología Educativa en la Universidad Abierta colaboró con investigadores del Centro Noruego de Ciencia del Aprendizaje y Tecnología (SLATE). Propusimos una larga lista de nuevos términos educativos, teorías y prácticas. Posteriormente, los redujimos a los diez que tienen el potencial de propiciar cambios importantes en la práctica educativa. Por último, nos basamos en escritos publicados y no publicados para compilar los diez bocetos de nuevas pedagogías que podrían transformar la educación. Estos se resumen a continuación en orden de inmediatez y tiempo necesario para generalizar su implementación.

  1. Aprendizaje lúdico
  2. Aprender con robots
  3. Descolonizar el aprendizaje
  4. Aprendizaje basado en drones
  5. Aprendizaje basado en el asombro
  6. Aprendizaje activo
  7. Estudios virtuales
  8. Aprendizaje situado
  9. Hacer visible el pensamiento
  10. Raíces de empatía

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Farewell, Gill

There has been a voluntary severance scheme in operation at The Open University over the past year, which has meant saying goodbye to a lot of talented friends. Last to go was Gill Clough, who joined the university at the same time that I did. Over the past 15 years, we’ve done so much together that it was hard to see her go. Her Hobbits remain, as a permanent reminder of the spirit of exploration and adventure that she brings to all her work.


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Pedagogical innovations

Part of the cover of 'Pedagogical innovations for technology-enabled learning'New report out for the Commonwealth of Learning: Pedagogical Innovations in Technology-enabled Learning.

This guide explores how pedagogy and vision underpin successful TEL innovation, as well as the other building blocks that are needed. It also outlines recent pedagogical innovations in TEL that can be trialed in any classroom where learners have access to smartphones and the Internet.

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FutureLearn: ten wishes

With the first run of H880 Technology-enhanced Learning: Foundations and Futures near the middle of its first run, I visited the FutureLearn offices to talk to staff about what is working well and about changes I would like to see in the future. My suggestions were based on the experiences of both staff and students. This was an internal presentation, so I won’t share it here, just the high-level  summaries of the ten wishes.

Ten wishes: increased accessibility, cross-course study groups, upload facilities, social group for all students, Notes tool, appropriate analytics, updated portfolio tool, interventions, search facility, and emojis.

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Playful Learning 2019

Logo of the Playful Learning conferenceIn early July, I was in Leicester at the Playful Learning conference with other members of the Rumpus research group, running a workshop to develop a typology of fun and learning. We used balloons to gather, group and shape ideas.


8. Framework of fun (90 minutes, outside)
The Rumpus Group
This will be a fun way to identify the elements of fun. Using the outside space we will use a variety of media (including balloons) to draw out people’s ideas, and develop a shared understanding of what fun is, and what contributes to it.

A tweet relating to the event. It refers to 'popping a balloon to prove a point in a group of people I've never met'.

Consensus building workshop at the University of Sussex using balloons to bring ideas together

The methodology was later used at the University of Sussex

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Learning Analytics Summer Institute

Tweet about the tutorialEvery year, the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) runs a Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI) in North America, often alongside related LASI events around the world. I’ve attended LASI events in Spain, Norway, and the UK in different years. This year, I’m at the main event, held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. It’s one of the biggest LASI events ever, with almost 140 people here for tutorials and workshops related to learning analytics. I’m here running a couple of tutorials about qualitative approaches to learning analytics.

Qualitative approaches to learning analytics

Learning analytics is a field concerned with ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts’. This implies a quantitative approach. However, it has become increasingly clear that ‘understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs’ also requires qualitative approaches.

Qualitative approaches can be used to understand why learners and teachers act as they do, to explain their decisions, to explore the importance of context for learning analytics, and to increase the value of learning analytics tools and methods.

This tutorial is intended for participants who have little experience of qualitative research and would like to explore how it can be used in the context of learning analytics.

When you have successfully completed this tutorial, you will have developed your ability to:

  • decide when and why to use qualitative approaches in learning analytics research
  • design a qualitative research study
  • analyse qualitative data
  • establish the trustworthiness of qualitative research.
Group pictures taken at LASI

LASI workshop leads (top) and other attendees


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