Analytics for Teaching and Learning

It’s all been about learning analytics for me this week. Following the SoLAR UK meeting on Monday, I’m delighted to announced that next paper in the CETIS Analytics Series, “Analytics for Teaching and Learning” launches today.

Building on from “Analytics for the Whole Institution, balancing strategy and tactics“, this paper (written by Mark Van Harmelen and David Workman) takes a more in-depth look at issues specifically related to applying analytics in teaching and learning.

The Analytics for Teaching and Learning paper examines:

” the use of analytics in education with a bias towards providing information that may help decision makers in thinking about analytics in their institutions. Our focus is pragmatic in providing a guide for this purpose: we concentrate on illustrating uses of analytics in education and on the process of adoption, including a short guide to risks associated with analytics.”

Learning analytics is an emerging field of research and holds many promises of improving engagement and learning. I’ve been following developments with interest and I hope a healthy level of scepticism and optimism. A number of VLEs (or LMSs if you’re in North America) are now shipping with built in analytics features aka dashboards. However, as I pointed out in the “Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter?” paper, there really isn’t a “magic analytics” button which will suddenly create instantly engaged students and better results. Effective use and sense making of any data requires lots of considerations. You need to think very carefully about the question(s) you want the data help you to answer and then ensure that results are shared with staff and students in ways that allow them to gain “actionable insights”. Inevitably the more data you gather, the more questions you will ask. As Adam summarised in his “how to do analytics right” post a simple start can be best. This view was echoed at discussions during the SoLAR meeting on Monday.

Starting at small scale, developing teams, sharing data in meaningful ways, developing staff/student skills and literacies are all crucial to successful analytics projects. The need for people with both data handling, interpretation and within education, pedagogic understanding is becoming more apparent. As the paper points out,

“There are a variety of success factors for analytics adoption. Many of them are more human and organisational in nature than technical. Leadership and organisational culture and skills matter a lot.”

Again if you have any thoughts/experiences to share, please feel free to leave a comment here.

The paper can be downloaded from here.