Open Learning Analytics (Amsterdam)

Filming the OLA Summit

Filming the OLA Summit

Back in 2011, I was part of a group of practitioners and researchers that published a proposal for an open and modularised platform for open learning analytics.  In it, we outlined the development of an integrated and extensible toolset that would help academics and organisations to evaluate learner activity, determine needed interventions, and improve advancement of learning opportunities.

Siemens, G., Gašević, D., Haythornthwaite, C., Dawson, S., Buckingham Shum, S., Ferguson, R., Duval, E, Verbert, K, and Baker, R. S. J. d. (2011). Open Learning Analytics: An Integrated and Modularized Platform (Concept Paper): SOLAR.

We moved forward on this idea in spring this year when,  following the LAK14 conference, I was invited to spend a weekend on the outskirts of Indianapolis, at the Open Learning Analytics (OLA) summit. One outcome of that event was the identification of domains in which future work may be conducted: open research, institutional strategy and policy issues, and learning sciences/learning design and open standards/open-source software – and ethical issues related to all of these.

At the start of December, there was another meet-up, this time in Europe and organised by the LACE project, together with the Apereo Foundation and the University of Amsterdam. In a room littered with classical sculpture, at Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum, participants from across Europe gave presentations on their interests in, and vision for, Open Learning Analytics and its application to education or training.

  • Niall Sclater, from JISC in the UK, talked about developing the infrastructure for basic learning analytics systems.
  • Thieme Hemmis, from DelftX, talked about an open research framework – a standard instrument for collaborative research that can give access to data, people and instruments.
  • Erwin Bomas, from Kennisnet and the LACE project is working on a system to gain informed consent for access to data
  • Wolfgang Müller, University of Education Weingarten, is focusing on providing analytics to teachers to they can provide better formative feedback. The aim is to provide informative data on learning processes.
  • Patrick Lynch, University of Hull, introduced Apereo’s work on connecting up data, analytics and data presentation.
  • Vladimer Kobayashi is researching ways of linking the skills of graduates with the labour market.
  • Adam Cooper is leading a strand of the LACE project that is focused on  interoperability and data sharing.
  • Neils Smits, VU university Amsterdam, usesg cluster analysis to understand student activity on the Blackboard virtual learning environment. This analysis accounts for 50% of variance in later exam performance.
  • Alan Berg, of the Apereo Foundation, talked about the grand challenge of learning analytics.

Following these presentations, we brainstormed ideas for action, exploring objectives for collaborative projects that could be achievable in 2-4 years, the methods to achieve these objectives, and the nature of an Open Learning Analytics Framework as a means of coordinating action. A next step will be to work together on bids to Europe’s Horizon 2020 funding programme in order to make these ideas into reality.

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