Making Sense of “Analytics”

There is currently a growing interest in increasing the degree to which data from various sources can be put to use by organisations to be more effective and a growing number of strategies for doing this. The term “analytics” is frequently being applied to descriptions of these situations but often without clarity as to what the word is intended to mean. This makes it difficult to make sense of what is happening, to decide what to appropriate from other sectors, and to make creative leaps forward in exploring how to adopt analytics.

I have just completed a public draft of a paper entitled “Making Sense of Analytics: a framework for thinking about analytics” [link removed – please visit our publications site to access the final versions] in an attempt to help anyone who is grappling with these questions in relation to post-compulsory education (as I am). It does so by:

  • considering the definition of “analytics”;
  • outlining analytics in relation to research management, teaching and learning or whole-institution strategy and operational concerns;
  • describing some of the key characteristics of analytics (the Framework).

The Framework is intended to support critical evaluation of examples of analytics, whether from commerce/industry or the research community, without resorting to definition of application or product categories. The intention behind this approach is to avoid discussion of “what it is” and to focus on “what it does” and “how it does it”.

This is a draft. Please feel free to comment via this blog or directly to me. A revised version will be published in June.

This paper is the first of a series that CETIS is producing and commissioning. These will be emerging during the coming months and collected together in a unified online resource in July/August. This is referred to briefly by Sheila MacNeill in her recent post “Learning Analytics, where do you stand?

2 thoughts on “Making Sense of “Analytics”

  1. Pingback: Analytics Reconnoitre: Notes on R in education and industry JISC CETIS MASHe

  2. Pingback: What I’ve starred this month: May 28, 2012 JISC CETIS MASHe

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