Building an analytics community

On 19 April, I was at St Annes College, Oxford, for the Making a Difference: Social Sciences and Impact conference.

My talk focused on the work of the Learning Analytics Community Exchange(LACE) in building a European learning analytics community, and the part that The Open University played in achieving this.


Our university was among the first to engage when learning analytics emerged as a research field. We built up a solid base of expertise, which we wanted to use to achieve a positive impact on learning and teaching in a broader context. We began by holding a networking event for researchers and practitioners. From that emerged the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project, designed to build European expertise in this area.

The project included an impact plan, with performance indicators that enabled us to evaluate that impact. The plan included broad groups – higher education, schools, industry and informal learning – as well as different communities: policy makers, researchers, unions, educators and trainers.

We created a networking plan, identifying key events internationally. We also scheduled our own events, building on the one that had formed the basis of the project, and adding events for policy makers. We developed a site for sharing research evidence and aligned it with the major conference in the area. We drew up a detailed Social Media plan and established a strong presence on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. We also took the lead in developing international standards and ethical practice in learning analytics.


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