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Learning Analytics 2011: Reflections

On Feb 28-Mar 1 a group of 100 researchers, administrators, and academics (from 12 countries) converged in Banff, Alberta for the 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge. Rather cold weather, at times exceeding -30C, drove most of the activities indoors. It was one of the most enjoyable conferences I’ve ever attended. We had an outstanding conference program (.pdf). Small conferences are great for conversations. About 20 of the conference attendees are regular keynote presenters in mainstream educational conferences and leaders in fields of learning design, openness, semantic web, data analysis, and social network analysis. I found it to be a very rich intellectual and social experience.

I’ve tagged a few of the conference resources on Diigo. Doug Clow, Stian Haklev, Alfred Essa, and others have captured many of the topics addressed. Afred Essa has compiled the blogs covering the conference. Doug Clow was particular thorough in blogging the presentations. We expect to have the video recordings of all the presentations available in the next few weeks.

I’m not even going to attempt to capture all of the themes and key topics presented at the conference – too many paths and directions are available to explore in this regard. We expect to have conference proceedings available with Springer and online access for those who want to explore the breadth of the presentations.

A few messages that stuck with me based on discussions and presentations:

1. Analytics will be huge in education and are coming faster than almost anyone can anticipate.

2. Analytics are growing in prominence in many different disciplines and from all parts of the education system. Researchers from different fields found shared space in the analytics discussion. Are analytics the “universal decoder” for education reform?

3. Ethics are going to be an enormous concern. We all acknowledged it. No clear way forward exists at this stage.

4. Analytics can be applied across the full spectrum of education: for teachers, learners, administrators, policy makers, and government officials.

5. Student success, based partly in adaptive and personal learning, is a substantial motivator for foundations, administrators, and politicians. Under various covers (college completion, accountability, increased institutional effectiveness) analytics will be appropriated to serve numerous ideals, causes, and visions.

6. Brace yourself for the usual hype cycle: analytics will be everything, they will cure all ails, they will transform education, they will [_____]. Purchase your Batman Consultant-Repellant spray now.

One Comment

  1. Tony Searl wrote:

    Thin ice and turbulent times ahead.
    Massive quantities of Batcrap repellant spray, ala your point 6, will be needed to avoid those questionable ethics raised in point 3.

    Trust will also need a mandatory gold dias as will OER semantics. If reactionary reversion to silos and secrecy eventuates, analytics will be called out for points 2 and 4. Resultant appropriations in point 5 will be questioned and critics and advocates will hype their potentially unethical cause. Repeat and wash points 6 to 2 as needed.

    What remains is point 1. The speed of arrival, ready or not, expert or not, with everyman status makes analytics a powerful emerging bittersweet field.

    BTW, a big thank you to you and the other #LAK11 facilitators for an enjoyable and thought provoking recent MOOC. It was thankfully devoid of a need for Batman crap repellant.

    Friday, March 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink