What are Learning Analytics?

Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data,” a science that was originally used by businesses to analyze commercial activities, identify spending trends, and predict consumer behavior. The rise of the Internet drove research into big data and metrics as well as the proliferation of web tracking tools, enabling companies to build vast reserves of information they could study and apply to their marketing campaigns. Education is embarking on a similar pursuit into data science with the aim of improving student retention and providing a high quality, personalized experience for learners. Learning analytics research uses data analysis to inform decisions made on every tier of the educational system. Whereas analysts in business use consumer data to target potential customers and personalize advertising, learning analytics leverages student data to build better pedagogies, target at-risk student populations, and assess whether programs designed to improve retention have been effective and should be sustained — outcomes for legislators and administrators that have profound impact. For educators and researchers, learning analytics has been crucial to gaining insights about student interaction with online texts and courseware. Students are beginning to experience the benefits of learning analytics as they engage with mobile and online platforms that track data to create responsive, personalized learning experiences.

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

  • By stitching together disparate learning systems, application data can be used to inform instruction and make learning more effective and efficient. The ultimate goal is personalization of learning for each student, but standard data exchange protocols are required. - anton.inglese anton.inglese Jun 20, 2015
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Learning Analytics is becoming embedded in many to most curricular based products. Products/solutions are including formative assessments, some adaptive in ability, and the ability to perform analytics on learning/achievement. Many are delivering dashboards to simplify moving towards data-driven decision making (- jbillings jbillings Jun 1, 2015) [Editor's Note: Added here from RQ3]
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry?

  • This response could likely fit under any of these sections....from a higher education perspective: one of the tasks of my statistics consulting work group is to manage the 'student response on instruction' surveys that are completed by all students at the end of each semester. These have been in place for at least two decades and are used to monitor quality of instruction including specifics related to the instructor, course content and delivery, etc. As the use of education technology tools have evolved along with continued scrutiny on higher education and its value, this practice could and should evolve into a tool that collects data about practices specifically in the area of education technology that impact student retention, providing more detailed insight into instructional practices across an institution, not just in a few select disciplines. Although I'm speaking with my higher education hat on, I know that within this project group, we are already familiar with the many tools and resources that have been developed over the years to identify correlations between use of technology in the curriculum and (K-12) student achievement. Maybe revisiting this conversation with a targeted audience across K-20 would be of value....? (- kim.owen kim.owen Jun 17, 2015)
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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