The SoLAR Southern Flare Conference (SSFC) introduced the potential of learning analytics to practitioners, academics, researchers, administrators, and anyone interested in learner-centred data driven practices. The attendees included representatives from over half the universities in Australia and New Zealand as well as participants from industry. The Flare was blogged by event chair Shirley Alexander.
Universities around the world are currently exploring radical new approaches to post-compulsory education, based around online courses with no formal entry requirements or constraints on class sizes, combining the power of social networks for learning with open access learning materials (Kop, 2011; Kop, Fournier, & Sui Fai, 2011). These massive open online courses (MOOCs) include MITx, which offers a portfolio of MIT courses to a virtual community of learners around the world free of charge, and the Stanford ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ course that signed up 160,000 students from 190 countries in 2011 (Leckhart & Cheshire, 2012).
For these and similar courses to be educationally effective, they not only demand new methods of teaching, but also new approaches to providing individualized support, new ways of tracking and managing the learning of thousands of students, and new tools that will help learners to orient themselves in complex online settings and develop a coherent view of an information space (Siemens, 2011).
This presentation will showcase The UK Open University’s research into the development of social learning analytics – analytics that can be used to understand and support how learners build knowledge together in different cultural and social settings, both inside and outside formal education.