Last month in collaboration with the colleagues at the OU we co-hosted the inaugural UK SoLAR Flare. A number of blogs, pictures and videos of the day are available on the SoLAR website.
This was the first meeting in the UK focusing on learning analytics and as such we had quite a broad cross section of attendees. We've issued a small survey to get some feedback from delegates, and many thanks to all the attendees who completed it. We had 20 responses in total and you can access collated results of the survey from here.
Overall, 100% of respondents found the day either very useful or useful, which is always a good sign, and bodes well for the beginnings of a new community of practice and future meetings
The need for staff development and a range of new skills is something that is being increasingly identified for successful analytics projects and is an underlying theme our current Analtyics Series. The role of the Data Scientist is being increasingly recognised as a key role both in the "real" world and in academia. So what roles did our attendees have? Well, we did have one data scientist, but perhaps not that surprisingly the most common role was that of Learning Technologist with 5 people. The full results were as follows:
learning technologist 5
data scientist 1
(other answers; "director/agile manager" "sort of learning technologist but also training"
So a fair spread of roles which again bodes well for the development of teams with the skill needed to develop successful analytics projects.
We also asked attendees to share the main idea that they took away from the day. Below is a selection of responses.
"That people are in the early stages of discussion."
"Learning analytics needs to reach out end-users"
"The overall idea was how many people are in the same position and that the field is in a very experimental stage. This improves the motivation to be experimental."
"more a better understanding of the current status than a particular idea. But if I had to chose one idea it is the importance of engaging students in the process."
"Early thoughts on how learning analytics could be used in the development of teaching staff."
"That HE is on the cusp of something very exciting and possibly very enlightening regarding understanding the way students learn. BUT the institution as a whole needs to be commited to the process, and that meaningful analysis of the mass of potential data that is 'out there', is going to be critical. There is also the very important issues of ethics and who is going to do what with the data.........I could go on, and on, and on......."
Suggestions for further meetings included:
"It would be great to involve more academic teaching staff and students in future meetings."
"I think bringing together the different stakeholders (technologists, teachers, students, data scientists, statisticians) is a great feature for this group. It is easy to break into silos and forget the real end-user. Having more students involved would be great."
"An international project exchange. Have, say, 10 - 15 lightning talks. Then organise a poster session with posters corresponding to the lightning talks. People whose interest was drawn by one project or another will have the chance to follow up on that project for further information. Also maybe an expert panel (with people that have experience with putting learning analytics into educational practice) that can answer questions sent in beforehand by people wanting to set up a learning analytics project/activity. This can also be done Virtually"
"Would really welcome the opportunity to have a 'hands on' session possibly focussing upon the various dashboards that are out there."
You can access the full results at the SoLAR website.