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Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy

Report coverThe final report on our study of learning analytics for European educational policy (LAEP) is now out.

Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy brings together the findings of a literature review; case studies; an inventory of tools, policies and practices; and an expert workshop.

The report also provides an Action List for policymakers, practitioners, researchers and industry members to guide work in Europe.

Learning Analytics: Action List

Policy leadership and governance practices

  • Develop common visions of learning analytics that address strategic objectives and priorities
  • Develop a roadmap for learning analytics within Europe
  • Align learning analytics work with different sectors of education
  • Develop frameworks that enable the development of analytics
  • Assign responsibility for the development of learning analytics within Europe
  • Continuously work on reaching common understanding and developing new priorities

Institutional leadership and governance practices

  • Create organisational structures to support the use of learning analytics and help educational leaders to implement these changes
  • Develop practices that are appropriate to different contexts
  • Develop and employ ethical standards, including data protection

Collaboration and networking

  • Identify and build on work in related areas and other countries
  • Engage stakeholders throughout the process to create learning analytics that have useful features
  • Support collaboration with commercial organisations

Teaching and learning practices

  • Develop learning analytics that makes good use of pedagogy
  • Align analytics with assessment practices

Quality assessment and assurance practices

  • Develop a robust quality assurance process to ensure the validity and reliability of tools
  • Develop evaluation checklists for learning analytics tools

Capacity building

  • Identify the skills required in different areas
  • Train and support researchers and developers to work in this field
  • Train and support educators to use analytics to support achievement

Infrastructure

  • Develop technologies that enable development of analytics
  • Adapt and employ interoperability standards

Other resources related to the LAEP project – including the LAEP Inventory of learning analytics tools, policies and practices – are available on Cloudworks.

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MOOCs: what the research tells us

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-15-27-21MOOCs: What the Open University research tells us recommends priority areas for activity in relation to massive open online courses (MOOCs). It does this by bringing together all The Open University’s published research work in this area from the launch of the first MOOC in 2008 until February 2016.

The report provides brief summaries of, and links to, all publications stored in the university’s Open Research Online (ORO) repository that use the word ‘MOOC’ in their title or abstract. Full references for all studies are provided in the bibliography.

Studies are divided thematically, and the report contains sections on the pedagogy of MOOCs, MOOCs and open education, MOOC retention and motivation, working together in MOOCs, MOOC assessment, accessibility, privacy and ethics, quality and other areas of MOOC research.

The report identifies ten priority areas for future work:

  1. Influence the direction of open education globally 
  2. Develop and accredit learning journeys 
  3. Extend the relationship between learners and the university
  4. Make effective use of learning design
  5. Make use of effective distance learning pedagogies
  6. Widen participation
  7. Offer well-designed assessment 
  8. Pay attention to quality assurance 
  9. Pay attention to privacy and ethics
  10. Expand the benefits of learning from MOOCs

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Innovating Pedagogy 2015

Innovating Pedagogy 2015 coverThis is the fourth in a series of influential reports from The Open University exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This report represents a collaboration with our colleagues in the Center for Technology and Learning at SRI International, the leading US research organisation.

This year, the focus is on:

  • Crossover learning (connecting formal and informal learning)
  • Learning through argumentation (developing skills of scientific argumentation)
  • Incidental learning (harnessing unplanned or unintentional learning)
  • Context-based learning (how context shapes and is shaped by the process of learning)
  • Computational thinking (solving problems using techniques from computing)
  • Learning by doing science with remote labs (guided experiments on authentic scientific equipment)
  • Embodied learning (making mind and body work together to support learning)
  • Adaptive teaching (adapting computer-based teaching to the learner’s knowledge and action)
  • Analytics of emotions (responding to the emotional states of students)
  • Stealth assessment (unobtrusive assessment of learning processes).

You can download the report at www.open.ac.uk/innovating

 

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Innovating Pedagogy 2014

Cover of Innovating Pedagogy 2014Innovating Pedagogy 2014 has just been published and is available as a free download. It is the third in a series of reports I have co-authored with colleagues at The Open University that explore new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world. While many of these are enabled by technology, these are not reports on new gadgets, but on new ways of teaching and learning.

This year’s report focuses on

  • Massive open social learning
  • Learning design informed by analytics
  • Flipped classroom
  • Bring your own devices
  • Learning to learn
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Event-based learning
  • Learning through storytelling
  • Threshold concepts
  • Bricolage

One of my favourites is learning through storytelling. Of course, this is not a new pedagogy. Writing up an experiment, reporting on an inquiry, analysing a period of history – these are all examples of the use of narrative to support learning that have been used for hundreds of years. However, the use of technology opens up new possibilities. We are increasingly able to create virtual story worlds in which guided exploratory learning can take place. A storyline can also be used to build engagement and provoke discussion in massive open online learning, or in other learning environments where participants spread across the globe build a narrative together. This is an example of technology opening up new possibilities that allow us to expand our use of a tried and trusted approach to teaching and learning.

Postscript December 2014: Ida Brandão has produced a short video of this year’s report.

Postscript February 2015: The report continues to generate interest, with Tweets in different languages appearing, being retweeted or favourited every day or so.

Tweets about Innovating Pedagogy 2014

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Beyond Prototypes

Report coverI co-authored the Beyond Prototypes report, which provides an in-depth examination of the processes of innovation in technology-enhanced learning (TEL). The report sets out what can be done to improve the process of moving from academic research and innovative prototypes to effective and sustainable products and practices. In doing so, it shows that technological development is only a small part of the picture. Significant and lasting TEL innovation requires long-term shifts in practice. These shifts are not confined to the classroom or training environment; they require alterations to many different elements of the education system. In order to make these shifts, different communities and groups need to work creatively together over time, so policymakers and funders should plan for engagement with teams able to initiate, implement, scale and sustain long-term innovation.
Referencing the report: Scanlon, E., Sharples, M., Fenton-O’Creevy, M., Fleck, J., Cooban, C., Ferguson, R., Cross, S. and Waterhouse, P. Beyond Prototypes: Enabling Innovation in Technology-Enhanced Learning. Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Programme, London, http://beyondprototypes.com/ 2013.

Key insights summarised:

TEL involves a complex system of technologies and practices. In order to embed significant TEL innovation successfully, it is necessary to look beyond product development and pay close attention to the entire process of implementation.

Significant innovations are developed and embedded over periods of years rather than months. Sustainable change is not a simple matter of product development, testing and roll-out.

TEL innovation is a process of bricolage. This process includes informed and directed exploration of the technologies and practices required to achieve an educational goal. It involves experimentation to generate fresh insights, and a creative use of available resources. It also requires engagement with a range of communities and practices.

Successful implementation of TEL innovation requires evidence that the projected educational goal has been achieved. Reliable evaluations must be carried out; their findings must be disseminated and acted on. Methods of evaluation are required that can be applied to processes of innovation and to institutional change, as well as those that can be applied to shifts in technology usage.

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Innovating Pedagogy 2013

Tweet relating to the reportCover of Innovating Pedagogy 2013Out today – the second in a series of reports from The Open University that provide a straightforward introduction to innovations in education and look at the implications of these innovations for the theory and practice of teaching, learning and assessment.

This second report, Innovating Pedagogy 2013, revisits four subjects covered in last year’s report – MOOCs, badges to accredit learning, learning analytics and seamless learning – and highlights six new pedagogies.

  • Crowd learning harnesses the local knowledge of many people to answer questions or address immediate problems.
  • Digital scholarship enhances scholarly practice through networked technologies.
  • Geo-learning uses the location detection of smartphones to provide context-based learning materials.
  • Learning from gaming exploits the power of digital games for education.
  • Maker culture describes the informal networks of people who share practical learning, motivated by fun and self-fulfilment.
  • Citizen inquiry fuses the creative knowledge building of inquiry-based learning with the mass civic engagement of volunteer activism.

The report has been written by a small group of academics in the Institute of Educational Technology and the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology at The Open University. To produce it, they compiled a long list of new educational terms, theories, and practices. They then pared these down to ten that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice, particularly in post-school education. Lastly, they drew on published and unpublished writings to compile ten sketches of
new pedagogies that might transform education.

The report was written up in the Times Higher Education on 3 October 2013.

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Learning analytics for open and distance education

Cover of learning analytics reportJust published, Learning Analytics for Open and Distance Education, an edition of CEMCA EdTech Notes. This is a topical start-up guide series on emerging topics in the field of educational media. CEMCA, based in New Delhi, is the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia. Its mission is to assist governments and institutions to expand the scale, efficiency and quality of learning by using multiple media in open, distance and technology-enhanced learning.

Ferguson, R. (2013). Learning Analytics for Open and Distance Education. In S. Mishra (Ed.), CEMCA EdTech Notes. New Delhi, India: Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA).

Report introduction

Learning analytics make use of large datasets in order to improve learning and the environments in which it takes place. Students and educators can use these analytics to review work that has been done in the past, to support current study and to access recommendations for future activities. In the context of open and distance education, analytics are able to draw on information about online learning activity in order to support teachers and to help guide learners. Many of the major learning management systems (LMSs) used to support education worldwide currently have basic-level learning analytics built into them, and new tools are currently under development that will expand the use of analytics within open and distance education.

 

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