This Week in Learning Analytics (November 15 – 21, 2014)

On November 17, 2014, Alyssa Wise delivered a lecture at Emory University as part of the 2014-2015 QuanTM Learning Analytics Speaker Series
On November 17, 2014, Alyssa Wise delivered a lecture at Emory University as part of the 2014-2015 QuanTM Learning Analytics Speaker Series. The event was professionally recorded and produced, and will be made available online next week.

Latest News

17 November 2014
University of Texas at Arlington to Lead $1.6M Digital Learning Research Effort
The Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Lab at UT Arlington has been chosen to lead a $1.6 million initiative to connect and support researchers across the country as they examine digital learning’s effect on higher education today and in the future. The new Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN) is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. LINK Lab Executive Director George Siemens will coordinate work between UT Arlington and nine additional institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, Teachers College Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and others.

Latest Blogs

Standards and Specifications Quick Reference Guide by Adam Cooper
A list of standards and specifications, including research work, which may be relevant to people building Learning Analytics systems. The post includes a link to public draft for comment of a “Specification and Standards Quick Reference Guide” written by Adam Cooper for the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE). As noted in a comment by Rebecca Ferguson, the document appears to be written for a technical audience with experience in software development and interoperability standards. Its technical language aside, the document is incredibly valuable in its current form, and I expect it to become even more so through public comment. I highly recommend reviewing this document, sharing it among more technical personnel, and contributing comments in service to the learning analytics community in general.

Teaching: Can we Blend Tradition with Technology? by Christopher Scanlon
Scanlon looks to ‘traditionalist’ and ‘technologist’ perspectives on teaching and learning and argues that they are both right in certain ways. He notes that present concerns about online education came about as a matter of course (new technologies always make educators uneasy), but also in response to earlier iterations of online teaching, which were ‘cheep and nasty.’ Learning analytics provide new ways to track and target students in a way that customizes content in much the same way as the teacher qua orator, but in a way that both scales and accepts the technologized nature of contemporary student life.

Next Generation Online Learning by Steven Mintz
Mintz identifies five contrasting ways to achieve four next generation aspirations: (1) learner focus, (2) interactivity, (3) scalability, and (4) decreased ration of cost:quality. In this, Mintz offers analytics key to scaling education, through the ability to offer real-time feedback and facilitating credentialization. I worry, however, about the emphasis that Mintz places upon modularity, and emphasis that is becoming increasingly common as a result of Clay Christensen’s ‘disruptive’ influence. In the start-up culture, profit motives and agility are too often associated with innovation, but at the expense of reflection upon more fundamental questions about the nature of education and the meaning of student success. What Mintz identifies as ‘aspirations’ are not goals (an aspiration is prescriptive by definition), but are rather pre-exiting cultural movements. I worry about embracing cultural trends as if they are goals, and would far rather see education as a space in which such trends might be called into question through a willingness to aspire to goals that are truly aspirational and future-focussed…even to the point of being counter-cultural.

Ten Educational Innovations to Watch For in the Next Ten Years by Keith Sawyer
A summary of a recent report written by a team of researchers led by Mike Sharples at the Open University (UK). Sawyer smartly acknowledges the commonplace and largely useless nature of the vast majority of top-ten lists on the internet, but highly recommends the report as representing the work of researchers at the cutting edge of learning science. The list includes massive open social learning, learning design informed by analytics, flipped classrooms, bring your own devices, learning to learn, dynamic assessment, event-based learning, learning through storytelling, threshold concepts, and bricolage.

Technology that puts the classroom in students’ laptops by Adam Stanley
Written for the Globe and Mail, the piece is all over the place. In essence, technology is helping institutions to offer education in much the same way as Starbucks serves coffee (bugs and all?). The aim on the part of many educators in Canada, is to use technology to support learner-centered models of education, in a way that fosters reflection and serves the bottom line. 9/10 students are at least moderately interested in learning analytics…what students want, students get.

Featured Videos, Presentations & Webinars

Open Learning Analytics Panel at the Open Education Conference
Josh Baron, Stian Håklev, and Norman Bier

Analytics for Decision Making in Learning Environments
Abelardo Pardo

Recent Publications

Learning Analytics to Quantize and Improve the Skills Development and Attainment in Large Classes
Ishwari Aghav & Jagannath Aghav

The intervention of technology in the teaching and learning processes is bringing change. There is requirement of methods and techniques to analyze the generated data in these processes. Traditional way of delivery and assessment is becoming more focused by the application of technology. In this paper, we propose and illustrate an algorithmic methodology that shall allow the stakeholders in education to focus more on skills attainment effectively.

In large size class, there is huge data generated by registration system, administration system, and the learning management system together. We propose the methodology that mainly maps and quantizes the learning outcomes, and that relates to the successful and weaker range of attainments of stakeholders. This algorithmic methodology reads the data viz. course details, outcomes, and assessment scores of a large class and analyzes the skills attainment with respect to the planned each course outcome. The detailed report is generated with the average of attainment of the class strength, highest attainment, and lowest attainment in each of the course outcomes for each student.

Learning Analytics: The Current State of Play in UK Higher and Further Education
Niall Sclater

This report examines the current situation in a range of universities and colleges across the UK. A number of institutions which were known to be carrying out work in learning analytics were approached to see if they would be prepared to be interviewed. The resulting list includes ten universities, two colleges and the University of London Computing Centre, which hosts the virtual learning environment’s (VLE) of more than a hundred organisations and is planning to further develop its analytics capabilities. While the list of institutions cannot be considered representative of UK tertiary education it does provide a snapshot of activity in a wide variety of institutions, and includes some of the most high profile developments.

Calls for Papers / Participation


Open Learning Analytics Network – Summit Europe 2014 Amsterdam | 1 December 2014 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: None, but spaces are limited)

EDEN Annual Conference Barcelona, Spain | 9 – 12 June, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 31 January 2014)

EDM 2015: 8th International Conference on Education Data Mining Madrid, Spain | 26 – 29 June, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 12 January 2014)

Journals / Book Chapters

Universities and Knowledge Society Journal (RUSC): Special Section on Learning Analytics (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 20 January 2015)

NEW! Journal of Learning Analytics: Special Section on Multimodal Learning Analytics (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 1 March 2015)

Employment Opportunities

NEW! Data & Society Research Institute (New York, NY)
Researcher, Enabling Connected Learning – seeking either a full-time or part-time researcher to help drive the research components of this project. Start date is negotiable and the appointment is for two years (with renewal possibilities). Applicants should have a PhD in a social science or related field or significant experience doing similar types of research. Applicants may be postdocs or more advanced researchers. This is a fully funded position with benefits and vacation; salary is dependent on experience. The appointment requires residency in New York. Travel may be necessary, both for conducting the research and for disseminating findings. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Posted Until Filled

Leiden University (Leiden, Netherlands)
Postdoc Data & Learning Analytics for Online Learning – The function involves doing research and conducting experiments within the Online Learning Lab ( ). It’s purpose: 1) to improve online learning and 2) publishing in professional and scientific journals. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION:November 28, 2014

Simon Fraser University (Victoria, BC, Canada)
Tenure Track Position In Educational Technology And Learning Design – The Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University ( seeks applications for a tenure-track position in Educational Technology and Learning Design at the Assistant Professor rank beginning September 1, 2015, or earlier. The successful candidate will join an existing complement of faculty engaged in Educational Technology and Learning Design, and will contribute to teaching and graduate student supervision in our vibrant Masters program at our Surrey campus and PhD program at our Burnaby campus. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: December 1, 2014

University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY, USA)
Associate for Institutional Research/Research Scientist: Online Learning Analytics – The University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York seeks a scholar in online learning analytics to join its newly formed Center for Educational Innovation. Reporting to the Senior Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs, the Center for Educational Innovation has a mission to support and guide the campus on issues related to teaching, learning and assessment, and at the same time serves as a nexus for campus-wide efforts to further elevate the scholarship of and research support for pedagogical advancement and improved learning. The Research Scientist in online learning analytics will work in the area of Online Learning within the department and join a campus-wide network of faculty and researchers working on “big data”. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: December 6, 2014

University of Boulder Colorado (Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Multiple Tenure Track Positions in Computer Science – The openings are targeted at the level of Assistant Professor, although exceptional candidates at higher ranks may be considered. Research areas of particular interest include secure and reliable software systems, numerical optimization and high-performance scientific computing, and network science and machine learning. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Posted Until Filled

University of Technology, Sydney (Sydney, AUS)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Academic Writing Analytics – Postdoctoral research position specialising in the use of language technologies to provide learning analytics on the quality of student writing, across diverse levels, genres and domains DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Posted Until Filled

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
Senior Digital Media Specialist – The University of Michigan is seeking a qualified Senior Digital Media Specialist to create digital content in support of online and residential educational experiences for the Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI). DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Posted Until Filled

NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education,and Human Developments Center for Research on Higher Education Outcomes (USA)
12-month postdoctoral position – available for a qualified and creative individual with interests in postsecondary assessment, learning analytics, data management, and institutional research.The Postdoctoral Fellow will be responsible for promoting the use of institutional data sources and data systems for the purpose of developing institutional assessment tools that can inform decision making and contribute to institutional improvement across New York University (NYU). DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION: Open Until Filled