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Light-weight learning analytics tools

I’ve heard of SNAPP before – ” software tool that allows users to visualize the network of interactions resulting from discussion forum posts and replies” – but decided to play around with it today. This is a good example of a fairly simple, light-weight tool to analyze social interactions in an LMS like Moodle, Blackboard, or Desire2Learn. The process is simple: install a simple bookmarklet in your browser, go to your LMS, select the discussion forum that you want to analyze, and then activate the SNAPP plugin. SNAPP does its analysis and posts the results on the bottom of your browser window. The analysis isn’t very comprehensive, but does provide frequency of posts and social network structure. Greater analysis of the nature of interaction (i.e quality, not only quantity) through language/concept analysis seems like a logical next step. The best part of the tool is that it’s under the control of the educator (or learner). It’s simple, easy to install, and could provide useful insight into interactions. If you want to try it, download SNAPP and head to the introduction forum (an open forum, no login required) from CCK08 and see how it works.
What are you using for light-weight analysis of student learning or content?

7 Comments

  1. Ana Donaldson wrote:

    Thanks for the Snapp link. I’ve been having fun creating word clouds (wordle.net) to share with students. It’s a great visual tool to graphically display key terms that appear often in discussions.

    Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Diego Leal wrote:

    This is exactly what I’m trying to do with the posts and comments in my open courses: to automatically create an interaction graph that can be used to track educator/learner participation.

    I talked about that early this year here: http://bit.ly/bjzj0W I agree we need these kind of analysis tools, to gather information from public services and make it easier to analyze what happens in open courses (that is, in the open web).

    I imagine getting somewhere like this: http://bit.ly/dwbP64 . Based on the relative position in the graph, you could suggest new information, contacts and send automatic messages to participants. Who knows, maybe we could move from a LMS to a L(N)MS (Learning Network Management System)! :-D Does that make any sense?

    Lots to think about, even more things to do…

    Friday, September 3, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  3. Hi Diego – thanks for the reminder of your reflection on analytics and open courses!

    btw – if you want to discuss the topic of learning analytics in more detail, you might want to join our learning analytics google group: http://groups.google.com/group/learninganalytics

    Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  4. Roel Cantada wrote:

    SNAPP is an new version of the same tool I used to produce SNA data on the CCK08 Moodle Forum. It was called Moodle SNA Tool before and was written by Aneesha Bakharia. They appear to have added a lot of stuff I had to do manually before. Unfortunately, they still did not have a save vna file to disk. SNAPP is not installed but merely linked to, because it’s main program is a javascript file residing in (it appears still) Aneesha’s site. There are problems with this as we do not know how much Aneesha’s site can handle, if a lot of educators use it. A second weakness is that it can only analyze a discussion, not an entire forum. Links across discussion are ignored. Interpreting it’s results should take into consideration what I’ve said here: http://paaralan.blogspot.com/2009/07/validating-aneesha-bakharias-sna-moodle.html

    This is a very good tool, but we could have better taking into consideration what I’ve mentioned above. In addition the development team does not have a forum for accepting suggestions to improving it. Its source is not open, so we can not improve it ourselves.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  5. Hi Roel – thanks for your thoughts on this. I recall your work on CCK08. I hope you’ll have time/interest in joining the google group ( http://groups.google.com/group/learninganalytics ). we can carry on the conversation there…

    George

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  6. John Hannah wrote:

    Would SNAPP work in an “open” system like elgg or does it need to exist inside an LMS?

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink
  7. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi John – currently, it only works in D2L, Moodle, and Blackboard. Analyzing conversation in a distributed system like elgg is certainly do-able, but it’s a more complex task.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink