Great to learn about Heli’s views on Learning Analytics. I share many of those views with her, in particular the “ethical dimensions” relating to the analytics. I don’t think my learners would like to be “observed” under those lenses, honestly, and as David mentioned, the interpretation of the findings could become the science. This reminded me of the Quality Assurance and Improvement, and Total Quality Management movements which emphasises on management by facts and data. In an institutional setting, any improvement efforts are plan driven, and there is a need of control and intervention exercised by management, managers, and workers, based on a “scientific approach” using statistical analysis and control, together with a range of quality tools to improve and innovate in an organisation.
This may be a perfect solution when learning analytics are applied under a LMS and integrated learning environment, where institution control is of critical importance. However, would this work in an autonomous to semi-autonomous online learning environment such as PLENK? Would it provide the diagnosis as promised by the learning analytical approach?
To a great extent, I think there is still a gap between conducting and interpretating Learning Analytics and an understanding about its significance both from an educator and learner’s perspective – in particular the ethical dimensions and the privacy issues. To what extent would participants like to be “analysed” under such a system? If the learners are interested in learning, then the analytics would reveal that some of such learners could be actively participating and contributing to the networked learning. However, how about those who are not creating or participating that much, but are self-organised learners learning with their own learning pathways? Surely, these learners may become the outliers as identified in the social network graphs, analysis and statistics. How would lurkers identified under such analysis be actioned upon? What would an educator do based on the findings of such Learning Analytics? Intervention? Reinforcement of learning? Review of teaching practice? More support provided to the learners? Or a change in the course/network design?
I could however, see the value of Learning Analytics in PLENK, in that it provides a picture and pattern of learning of the network and community. Thanks to Rita and Helene for such a great slide presentation. Very informative.
Still pondering on the deeper significance of these sort of data mining in education and learning….
Postscript: Love to read this post by Martin Weller, especially on the ethical issues.