Archive for category SoLAR
If it’s March, it must be the LAK conference. This year it was in sunny Tempe, at the Arizona State University (ASU), and I was lucky enough to be a Program chair once again – this time in an ex officio role as a previous program chair. The role involves a lot of hard work during the year, and it’s great to see it all coming together at the conference.
Highlights of the event for me (apart from the analytics research, of course) were the conference dinner in the Desert Botanical Garden, and the outdoor poster session around the fountain as night fell. ASU were great hosts, and many people told me it was the LAK that they had enjoyed the most (and that’s against some stiff competition).
The final day of the conference coincided with International Women’s Day, so we gathered on stage after the day’s keynote from Shirley Alexander for a photo that brings together the women of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR).
A highlight of my year will surely be LAK18 – the annual Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference run by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). Together with Simon Buckingham Shum, Xavier Ochoa and Agathe Merceron, I was programme chair for the conference.
Our five days in Sydney were the culmination of more than a year’s hard work. We were really pleased with the attendance and the engagement at the conference, and the success of new initiatives such as double-blind peer review and the introduction of discussion around meta-reviews of the papers.
The next steps for us will be two special sections of the Journal of Learning Analytics – one related to the conference theme of human-centred design, and one including extended versions of the best papers. I shall also be ex officio programme chair of the next conference, at Arizona State in 2019.
The conference also provided a chance for many of the Learning Analytics Community Europe (LACE) organising team to meet up and make plans for the future.
In March, my time as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Learning Analytics came to an end.
The Associate Editors were appointed when the journal was first created. At the point when the journal is about to begin publishing its fifth volume, and is preparing to be indexed in the major databases, it was time for a refresh of the organisation. The loose group of Associate Editors has been replaced with an international Editorial Board.
I’ll be maintaining my connection with the journal by working on a special section on human-centred design, due for publication in the first half of 2019.
My first term of office on the Executive Committee of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) came to an end early this year. I have spent the last year working for the society by acting as one of the Programme Chairs of its annual LAK conference, attending monthly online meetings, and contributing to debate about the society’s initiatives.
I was nominated to stand for election as president-in-waiting of the society, but chose not to put myself forward for this demanding post. However, I did stand for the executive once again and was delighted to be notified on my birthday that I had been re-elected by members of the society as a member at large.
I am just back from an expert workshop held at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Seville.
The EU has a very large database, covering 12 years, related to a European-wide project called etwinning. This project puts teachers in touch with each other across Europe so that they can share ideas and innovation, develop their professional and digital skills and, specifically, join together to develop and carry out projects involving their pupils. The database covers activity and interactions on that platform by many thousands of individual teachers.
The JRC is interested in using this dataset to generate actionable insights that can help teachers and learners across Europe. The expert workshop brought together researchers from across Europe to discuss different ways of doing this. The participants brought many different perspectives to the event – some had worked with the platform for years, some came from Ministries of Education, others had explored large educational datasets in the past or had organised large studies.
Together, we identified different questions that the database could help to answer, and discussed ways in which it could be related to external data sources.
I visited Bergen in Norway at the end of September to keynote at Nordic LASI. This is one of a series of learning analytics summer institutes run around the world in conjunction with the Society for Learning Analytic Research (SoLAR). The event was well attended, with participants from Russia, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
Learning analytics involve the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, in order to understand and optimise learning and the environments in which it occurs. Since emerging as a distinct field in 2011, learning analytics has grown rapidly, and institutions around the world are already developing and deploying these new tools. However, it is not enough for us to develop analytics for our educational systems as they are now – we need to take into account how teaching and learning will take place in the future. The current fast pace of change means that if, in 2007, we had begun developing learning analytics for 2017, we might not have planned specifically for learning with and through social networks (Twitter was only a year old), with smartphones (the first iPhone was released in 2007), or learning at scale (the term MOOC was coined in 2008). By thinking ahead and by consulting with experts, though, we might have come pretty close by taking into account existing work on networked learning, mobile learning and connectivism. This talk will examine ways in which learning analytics could develop in the future, highlighting issues that need to be taken into account. In particular, the learning analytics community needs to work together in order to develop a strong evidence base grounded in both research and practice.
Scattered between my research presentations at LAK17 was my work as a member of the executive for the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). The executive met daily during the conference – it is the only chance we have each year for face-to-face meetings. The LAK conferences also provide a venue for the AGM of the society and, despite the size of the room, where the AGM was held, it was standing room only for most of the meeting.
The executive also have a role to play in decisions about the conference itself, as well as acting as reviewers on the programme committee and chairs for the different sessions. Next year, at LAK18 in Vancouver, I shall be taking on a bigger role, as one of the programme chairs for the conference.
The picture shows me with half the SoLAR Executive at the post-LAK17 review meeting.