Edinburgh University is investing in the use of learning analytics for course design, attainment, and improving the student experience.
We think learning analytics and student data analysis hold great potential to address the challenges confronting educational institutions. By merging technical methods for data mining and with educational theory research and practice, learning analytics offer novel and real-time approaches to assessing critical issues such as student progression and retention, 21st century skills acquisition, as well as personalised learning.
The University of Edinburgh has a wide range of activities in the field of learning analytics. As shown in the diagram below, these activities cross many disciplinary, organisational, practice, and research boundaries.
The projects offer a heady mix of acronyms, names and aims. Just to prove that anything worth doing can be mapped across a 2×2 matrix, we have developed one to show the spread of our activity and projects.
Learning Analytics Map of Activities, Research and Roll-out (LAMARR*)
Led by the Vice-Principal Digital Education, Centre for Research in Digital Education, School of Informatics, Information Services, Student Systems, and the Institute for Academic Development, activities in learning analytics include University leaders, researchers, and practitioners from support, research, and academic units of the University collaborating on a variety of projects funded through both internal and external sources.
*As well as being a Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr also invented wifi and bluetooth #womenintech
This project asks: ‘How can University teaching teams develop critical and participatory approaches to educational data analysis?’ It seeks to develop ways of involving students as research partners and active participants in their own data collection and analysis, as well as foster critical understanding of the use of computational analysis in education.
The ‘Learning Analytics Report Card’ captures data from an individual student’s course-related activity, and presents a summary of their academic progress in textual and visual form. However, rather than manifesting through hidden and inaccessible institutional data aggregation and analysis, the LARC offers students an opportunity to play with their data; to choose what is included or excluded, when the report is generated, and how it might be presented.
Rather than simply empowering the individual, this process reveals the functioning of the algorithms that increasingly underpin and govern educational decision-making. A pilot LARC will be developed for the MSc in Digital Education programme at the University of Edinburgh, with a view to producing a packaged system that might be used in other online provision.
The first draft of the Learning Analytics Report Card interface is now complete, and is ready for testing with Moodle data and the phase 1 analytics. The interface is behind the EASE login, which will restrict access to the identified pilot students, as well as facilitate login information for the data capture from Moodle. At present, the options available to students reflect the 5 categories of analytics constituting the fist phase of development: Attendance, Social Interaction, Engagement, Performance, Personal.
If you want to know more, contact Jeremy in the project team.
Next year in April 2016 University of Edinburgh will host 3 major digital education conferences back to back. The city will provide a stunning back-drop for leading educators, policy makers and learning technologists to meet, share ideas and present their research. The calls for papers for each of the conferences is open now and the lists of keynote speakers and themes offer a tempting menu for anyone interested in open educational resources, learning analytics or the challenges of learning at scale.