Archive for category SoLAR
I have joined the Executive Board of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) as a ‘member at large’! The current president of the society is Dragan Gašević from the University of Edinburgh, UK.
Together with Mike Sharkey (Blackboard) and Negin Mirriahi (University of New South Wales), I chaired the Practitioner Track of the LAK16 conference in Edinburgh and edited the Practitioner Track proceedings.
Practitioners spearhead a significant portion of learning analytics, relying on implementation and experimentation rather than on traditional academic research. The primary goal of the LAK practitioner track is to share thoughts and findings that stem from learning analytics project implementations. The proceedings of the practitioner track from LAK’16 contains 12 short papers that share reports on the piloting and deployment of new and emerging learning analytics tools and initiatives.
Papers accepted in 2016 fell into two categories.
- Practitioner Presentations Presentation sessions are designed to focus on deployment of a single learning analytics tool or initiative.
- Technology Showcase The Technology Showcase event enables practitioners to demonstrate new and emerging learning analytics technologies that they are piloting or deploying.
Both types of paper are included in the proceedings.
Along with other members of the LACE project (Tore Hoel, Maren Scheffel and Hendrik Drachsler), I co-edited a special section of Journal of Learning Analytics Vol 3, No 1, which focused on ethics and privacy in learning analytics.
The section contained eight papers:
- Developing a Code of Practice for Learning Analytics
- Learning Analytics in Small-scale Teacher-led Innovations: Ethical and Data Privacy Issues
- LEA in Private: A Privacy and Data Protection Framework for a Learning Analytics Toolbox
- A Data Protection Framework for Learning Analytics
- The Role of a Reference Synthetic Data Generator within the Field of Learning Analytics
- De-Identification in Learning Analytics
- Privacy-driven Design of Learning Analytics Applications – Exploring the Design Space of Solutions for Data Sharing and Interoperability
- Student Vulnerability, Agency and Learning Analytics: An Exploration
The volume also included our guest editorial:
The European Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project is responsible for an ongoing series of workshops on ethics and privacy in learning analytics (EP4LA), which have been responsible for driving and transforming activity in these areas. Some of this activity has been brought together with other work in the papers that make up this special issue. These papers cover the creation and development of ethical frameworks, as well as tools and approaches that can be used to address issues of ethics and privacy. This editorial suggests that it is worth taking time to consider the often intertangled issues of ethics, data protection and privacy separately. The challenges mentioned within the special issue are summarised in a table of 22 challenges that are used to identify the values that underpin work in this area. Nine ethical goals are suggested as the editors’ interpretation of the unstated values that lie behind the challenges raised in this paper.
Ferguson, Rebecca, Hoel, Tore, Scheffel, Maren, & Drachsler, Hendrik. (2016). Guest editorial: ethics and privacy in learning analytics. Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(1) 5-15.
As part of the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project’s engagement with LAK15, we brought participants from across Europe together to talk about European perspectives on learning analytics.
Alejandra Martínez Monés from Spain talked about past work carried out as part of the European Kaleidoscope Network of Excellence that has implications for the development of learning analytics internationally. Alan Berg from The Netherlands provided links to a series of initiatives designed to bring researchers and practitioners together across national boundaries. Kairit Tammets introduced learning analytics work in Estonia, and Anne Boyer offered a French perspective. Members of the LACE project talked about their work to pull together research, practice and evidence across Europe.
Ferguson, Rebecca; Cooper, Adam; Drachsler, Hendrik; Kismihók, Gábor; Boyer, Anne; Tammets, Kairit, & Martínez Monés, Alejandra. (2015). Learning Analytics: European Perspectives. Paper presented at LAK16, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.
Since the emergence of learning analytics in North America, researchers and practitioners have worked to develop an international community. The organization of events such as SoLAR Flares and LASI Locals, as well as the move of LAK in 2013 from North America to Europe, has supported this aim. There are now thriving learning analytics groups in North American, Europe and Australia, with smaller pockets of activity emerging on other continents. Nevertheless, much of the work carried out outside these forums, or published in languages other than English, is still inaccessible to most people in the community. This panel, organized by Europe’s Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) project, brings together researchers from five European countries to examine the field from European perspectives. In doing so, it will identify the benefits and challenges associated with sharing and developing practice across national boundaries.
LACE project involvement in LAK15 also included a workshop on Ethical and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics.
My main paper at LAK15 analysed engagement patterns in FutureLearn MOOCs. In it, Doug Clow and I began by carrying out a replication study, building on an earlier study of Coursera MOOCs by Kizilcec and his colleagues. Although our cluster analysis found two clusters that were very similar to those found in the earlier study, our other clusters did not match theirs. The different clusters of learners on the two platforms appeared to relate to the pedagogy (approach to learning and teaching) underlying the courses.
Ferguson, Rebecca, & Clow, Doug. (2015). Examining engagement: analysing learner subpopulations in massive open online courses (MOOCs). Paper presented at LAK 15 (March 16-20), Poughkeepsie, USA.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are now being used across the world to provide millions of learners with access to education. Many learners complete these courses successfully, or to their own satisfaction, but the high numbers who do not finish remain a subject of concern for platform providers and educators. In 2013, a team from Stanford University analysed engagement patterns on three MOOCs run on the Coursera platform. They found four distinct patterns of engagement that emerged from MOOCs based on videos and assessments. However, not all platforms take this approach to learning design. Courses on the FutureLearn platform are underpinned by a social-constructivist pedagogy, which includes discussion as an important element. In this paper, we analyse engagement patterns on four FutureLearn MOOCs and find that only two clusters identified previously apply in this case. Instead, we see seven distinct patterns of engagement: Samplers, Strong Starters, Returners, Mid-way Dropouts, Nearly There, Late Completers and Keen Completers. This suggests that patterns of engagement in these massive learning environments are influenced by decisions about pedagogy. We also make some observations about approaches to clustering in this context.
The 5th international Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference (LAK15) at Marist College in Poughkeepsie NY opened with two days of workshops.
Organisers: Authors: Hendrik Drachsler, Adam Cooper, Tore Hoel, Rebecca Ferguson, Alan Berg, Maren Scheffel, Gábor Kismihók, Christien Bok and Weiqin Chen.
Drachsler, Hendrik; Cooper, Adam; Hoel, Tore; Ferguson, Rebecca; Berg, Alan; Scheffel, Maren; Kismihók, Gábor; Manderveld, Jocelyn and Chen, Weiqin (2015). Ethical and privacy issues in the application of learning analytics. In: 5th International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK15): Scaling Up: Big Data to Big Impact, 16-20 March 2015, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA.
We aim to understand ethics and privacy issues in learning analytics with greater clarity, to find ways of overcoming these issues and to research challenges related to ethical and privacy aspects of learning analytics practice. This interactive workshop aims to raise awareness of major ethics and privacy issues. It will also be used to develop practical solutions for learning analytics researchers and practitioners that will enable them to advance the application of learning analytics technologies.
I’m pleased that our paperLearning Analytics in Context: Overcoming the Barriers to Large-Scale Adoption has just been published by the Journal of Learning Analytics.
The paper begins by looking at why introducing learning analytics within an institution often proves to be difficult. It goes on to set out a framework that offers a step-by-step approach to the introduction of learning analytics, and shows how this can work in practice by focusing on developments in two very different institutions: a distance university in the UK and a university of technology in Australia.
The paper’s authors bring together a wealth of experience that is grounded in strategy, research and practice. Co-authors with a strategic perspective are Belinda Tynan, pro vice chancellor at the UK’s Open University who is leading on the development and roll-out of a programme of learning analytics across the institution, and Shirley Alexander, the deputy vice chancellor taking the lead on developing University of Technology Sydney as a data-intensive university. Leah Macfadyen from the University of British Columbia and Shane Dawson from the University of South Australia bring a research perspective that draws on an intensive study of the roll-out of analytics at an institutional scale, while Doug Clow from The Open University draws on his practitioner experience as a data wrangler, as well as his research experience in this area.
A core goal for most learning analytic projects is to move from small-scale research towards broader institutional implementation, but this introduces a new set of challenges because institutions are stable systems, resistant to change. To avoid failure and maximize success, implementation of learning analytics at scale requires explicit and careful consideration of the entire TEL technology complex: the different groups of people involved, the educational beliefs and practices of those groups, the technologies they use and the specific environments within which they operate. It is crucial to provide not only the analytics and their associated tools, but also to begin with a clear strategic vision, to critically assess institutional culture, to identify potential barriers to adoption, to develop approaches to overcome these and to put in place appropriate forms of support, training and community building. In this paper, we provide tools and case studies that will support educational institutions in deploying learning analytics at scale with the goal of achieving specified learning and teaching objectives. The ROMA Framework offers a step-by-step approach to the institutional implementation of learning analytics and this approach is grounded by case studies of practice from the UK and Australia.