What are Learning Analytics?

Learning analytics, in many ways, is “big data,” applied to education. The term owes its beginnings to data mining efforts in the commercial sector that used analysis of consumer activities to identify consumer trends. The rise of the Internet triggered a huge transformation in the field of market research and metrics as web tracking tools (web analytics) enabled companies to keep track of customers and their purchases. With the avalanche of data derived from consumers, businesses began to seek out analysts who could decipher meaning from gigantic sets of data and develop models and predictions about consumer behavior to support marketing strategies. Similarly, educational institutions are embarking on their own explorations of the science of large data sets, with the aim of improving student retention and providing a higher quality, personalized experience for learners. Learning analytics is an emergent field of research that aspires to use data analysis to inform decisions made on every tier of the educational system. Whereas analysts in business use consumer-related data to target potential customers and thus personalize advertising, learning analytics hopes to leverage student-related data to build better pedagogies, target at-risk student populations, and to assess whether programs designed to improve retention have been effective and should be sustained — important outcomes for administrators, policy makers, and legislators. For educators and researchers, learning analytics will provide crucial insights about student engagement both inside and outside of class. Students will also benefit from the deliverables of learning analytics, through the development of mobile software and online platforms that use student-specific data to tailor support systems that suit their learning needs.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 I've listed Mobile Learning, Virtual Worlds, Games/Gamification and Online Learning as my #1-4 priorities. Right behind them is Learning Analytics, because convincing people -- administrators, teachers, parents, even students -- that assessment when/where innovative educational technologies are utilized is just as valid as traditional methods is a big challenge. You wouldn't believe the fights I have just over the fact that I refuse to give tests...well, then again, maybe you would! I need something new re: assessing student performance. My usual argument of "Trust me, I'm a genius!" doesn't always work. Learning analytics are what we need as we go forward with the implementation of (especially the exotic) educational technologies.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013
  • Does NMC use learning analytics (from advisory board input) to craft this report?- jmorrison jmorrison Mar 4, 2013
  • Personalized learning is not possible without learning analytics. Teachers and administrators must have the opportunity to review individual student data, group students based on that data, and design individual lessons (or select them from a learning object repository or instructional management system) to fill the students gaps. Learning analystics including formative assessment, adaptive software pathways, summative assessments and instructional management systems are essential to whole system reform. - kecia.ray kecia.ray Mar 4, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Ditto on the personalization idea identified above. Also, feedback for educators on how their program is working for specific populations of kids.- jmorrison jmorrison Mar 6, 2013
  • This is a very relevant technology for all reasons mentioned above. Adding on to those, in Brazil a couple of startups have been using this to create university entrance exams simulations, giving students comparative feedback on how they did and what they need to study more. This is huge in Brazil, because the best universities are public and the exam very selective. They spend all of their High School years preparing just for that! Not ideal at all, but it is our current reality. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • Learning analytics can potentially go beyond providing academic information for students and teachers. It can be used to 'automatic' the assessment of non-academic skills, such as adaptive or 21st Century skills. Currently assessment of such skills can already be done through instruments that capture, say, learning behaviours, which can then be aggregated to reflect the relevant attributes of particular skills, such that 'competencies' in those skills can be assessed. This is largely done through ticking off boxes on paper. It is possible for learning analytics to form part of the assessment processes such that the behaviours of students can be captured electronically and analysed. The information obtain can then guide teachers' pedagogical responses. - hornmun.cheah hornmun.cheah Mar 6, 2013
  • Its power lies in its potential to provide learners, teachers, tutors and parents with real- time information about the needs and progress of each individual learner which could enable rapid intervention and greater personalisation ~- oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen
  • Learning analytics is going to dramatically impact the classroom. Combined with high quality online content, flexible classroom learning time, and 1:1, learning analytics is going to dramatically change the nature of school. As analytics assist teachers with rapidly discovering gaps in student need, providing recommended curriculum, schools are going to need to adapt to students accelerating through curriculum more rapidly, and move beyond age based grouping. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Mar 6, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 The fact that "learning analytics will provide crucial insights about student engagement" is there and this is certainly true, but what I'm envisioning is nothing less than the entire replacement of standardized testing, even the traditional report card.- jmorrison jmorrison Mar 4, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Mar 6, 2013 Yes. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Mar 6, 2013
  • Learning Analytics (LA) shows progress and areas students need assistance. However, the system needs to reflect growth as well as areas that need attention. For me, LA must be more than multiple choice questions...how can LA show improvement other than questions that often show knowledge. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 4, 2013- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Mar 6, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 There is not much of value available in this field yet. We can see time on task, and we can do a fair bit with adaptive math, but writing and argument are the holy grail that nobody has yet grasped here.- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013But if you assess those skills, and track the assessments, you can view trends, and even see progress and deficiencies in your program if not individual students.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013
  • An aspect of learning analytics that is just emerging is paradata or data around the data. These data describe how the resource was used and how the user felt about it. Paradata can be very powerful and while there are a range of automated ways to collect it, some of the richest data are recommender/user feedback type data that can be tricky to get and validate from the crowd. However, sites like Amazon seem to have a handle on it, so maybe something can be learned from their approach. Read more here: [[https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/opinion/6463/smart-grids-education- marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Mar 5, 2013]]- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • Overlooks the problems that analytics depend on large input of relevant data. Creating that data, if it is to be something which is not already perfectly obvious to the teacher, will be the problem.- paul paul Mar 5, 2013- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 We already have the data in gradebooks, comments on papers, testing scores, report cards, and everything that a teacher comments on. We just need to make sure we capture it all- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013
  • Garbage in, garbage out. While there is a vast volume of research on learning, I have very little confidence that much of that will be used. Instead, dataminers will look for correlations, then assume that those are causations, and continue to design bad learning experiences. - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013
  • Adding to my previous comment - if the outcomes are clear, like how many and what type of students drop out of a current system, and what common attributes or behaviors do they have that "successful" students don't have, the analytics can be used to help figure out interventions and improve graduation rates. If schools with two similar systems but greatly different drop out rates are analyzed, it may help point to the differences in the system so that the one school can tweak it's program to improve graduation. That doesn't say whether the learning for graduation is good, efficient, or effective, just that more are graduating. Tying that information to "success" after HS might give more feedback. - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 7, 2013
  • LA can provide data to shape PD programmes for teachers. - hornmun.cheah hornmun.cheah Mar 6, 2013 yes. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Mar 6, 2013
  • Issues of privacy are not sufficiently analyzed ~- oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen
  • Tie in with all systems in the school. For instance LA should include testing, attendance, participation in extra-curricular activities, community based activities, LMS achievement, and much more. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Mar 6, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 No more standardized testing? Think about that for a moment! With the right data, analysis, etc., students could actually be assessed on a truly individualized basis. Again, I'm thinking of this now from a purely selfish standpoint! At Colegios Peterson, we still have to "translate" our assessments into Mexican Department of Education standards. Can you imagine trying to assign a traditional 0-100 score for a class that involves, e.g., OpenSimulator projects? I like to think I know what I'm doing but learning analytics would give me some facts to back up my "grading system."- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Mar 7, 2013I would love to see this!
  • Imagine a report that is similar to an infographic or some type of dashboard. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 4, 2013 And that could include skills mastered, not just content.- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 Daily update for teachers and administrators that provides up-to-the-minute information on students identified for need, students accelerating, and the like. Could be a tremendous report to rapidly provide needed support. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Mar 6, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Individualization. Real time targeting of areas of skill and needed improvement. Identification of talent and pointing to resources that might be the next appropriate thing.
  • I actually think standardized testing and learning analytics go hand in hand. The Granular Identifiers and Metadata for the Common Core State Standards (GIM-CCSS) project and the NGSS are designed on a granular conceptual level to allow closer matching of test items and curriculum standards. Learning objects are increasingly described in terms of these narrow concepts, allowing an instructional management system to analyze student achievement data, identify granular areas that need improvement, and push learning objects to the teachers. All seamlessly integrated and providing a link between standards-driven teaching and standards-driven testing. - marcia.mardis marcia.mardis Mar 5, 2013marcia.mardis
  • Limited impact because of the problem of suitable input data.- paul paul Mar 5, 2013
  • I understand what Marcia is saying, but I don't think that necessarily improves learning; it just improves our ability to ask questions that do a bit better job of trying to measure what we think it should measure. - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013
  • If automated non-academic assessment can be realised with the help of LA, it is possible to influence assessment practices in schools. - hornmun.cheah hornmun.cheah Mar 6, 2013
  • The (special) needs of learners could be better identified and thus teachers could concentrate more on addressing the needs rather that correcting tests. As well as special needs could be identified earlier and provided with special treatment or care, which could make a significant difference for individuals - tszmarta tszmarta Mar 7, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.