The Rise of Learning Analytics
According to the 2012 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative-New Media Consortium Horizon Report, "Learning Analytics refers to the interpretation of a wide range of data produced by and gathered on behalf of students in order to assess academic progress, predict future performance, and spot potential issues." As one of the six most relevant new instructional technologies according to the report, learning analytics is categorized as having a time horizon of two to three years.
So why the buzz about learning analytics? Organizers of the First International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge in February 2011 led by George Siemens of Athabasca University, David Wiley of Brigham Young University and Erik Duval of Katholieke Universiteit discussed learning analytics in terms of "big data" generated by user interactions. They presented learning analytics as data that can be used to inform instructors, students, and program administrators for actionable changes.
Much in the way that Amazon.com provides useful information to customers by recommending books based on purchasing trends, learning analytics can cull "big data" held in the university Learning Management System (LMS) like the Blackboard LMS at USC. Blackboard data services that reveal student interactions with peers, instructors and content has the potential for analysis by instructors and students alike to help inform about teaching and learning in powerful new ways that improve the experience for both stakeholders.
USC plans to do just that. With primary responsibility for leading the Center for Scholarly Technology's (CST) evaluation and assessment efforts, I am serving on the national learning analytics initiative Core Data Services hosted by EDUCAUSE. In my new role, I'll help the CST join our efforts with instructors, students, and administrators to help unlock the potential of analytics and data to answer key questions that help improve technology-enhanced learning.