This Week These Weeks in Learning Analytics (November 29 – December 12, 2014)

Apologies for not posting an update last week. I was in Canada visiting family, and so took a week off (fortunately, as we move into December holidays, the news cycle slows considerably). The outpouring of messages I have received from followers who noted the absence of a post, however, has served to underline the value that these news roundups have for the learning analytics community. Thank you to every one for your support! If you have any news worth sharing, or any suggestions for how this regular series of posts might be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me at mail@timothyharfield.com
Me and my new nephew Kingston while visiting family in Canada last week | Photo by Karen Harfield, my sister and Kingston's Mom
Me and my new nephew Kingston. Picture taken while visiting family in Canada last week.

News

December 1, 2014
School Districts Pressure Publishers to Adopt Interoperability Standards
Several large US school districts are applying pressure to publishers to adopt interoperability standards, like those developed by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. The adoption of such standards would increase competition in the k-12 educational publishing space by preventing ‘lock-in,’ and increase freedom on the part of teachers to customize course content. Such standards would also lend themselves powerfully to the development of more versatile learning analytics tools.

December 4, 2014
White House Urges Colleges, Ed Tech Companies To Help Graduate More Students
The White House, during its second “College Opportunity Day of Action,” announces 600 new actions related to college preparation and completion. Important among its commitments is a push toward increasing investment and capability in the areas of predictive analytics and adaptive learning.

Student Privacy and Ethics

November 30, 2014
Whistle Blown on Womb to Workforce Data-Mining Scheme
Two groups, Pennsylvania Against Common Core and Pennsylvanians Restoring Education, are asking Gov. Tom Corbett to place a moratorium on data collection in the Pennsylvania Information Management System or PIMS. The system gathers information on students in all 500 school districts across the state and some schools have started collecting behavioral data that goes beyond testing for academic knowledge, according to the two organizations.

December 1, 2014
New South Wales Schools to Share Information on Expelled Students
Under new rules, struck by NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, mean public, private and Catholic schools will share information about the background and past behavior of transfer students. The decision was justified by a sense of moral responsibility to students and stewardship in the use of tax-payer money. The new rules do not apply to independent schools

Insights

December 1, 2014
3 Lessons From Data on Children’s Reading Habits: Data from Accelerated Reader, a program used in schools, highlights trends in children’s reading habits.
Report on the results of mining data collected by Renaissance Learning on the reading activity of students outside of the classroom. Three major findings include: (1) girls read more than boys, (2) 15 minutes of reading a day is a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of promoting optimum learning gains, and (3) students benefit from taking on the challenge of books above their reading level.

Opinions

Blogs

Learning Analytics and Educational Research — What’s New? by Simon Buckingham Shum
A wonderful exercise in clarifying the distinctions between (1) educational and learning sciences research, (2) learning analytics research, and (3) learning analytics systems. One of the claims here is that learning analytics only begins to take place with the automation of coding and other research processes. When learning analytics is viewed in the tradition inaugurated by the Decision Support System (as, indeed, I am inclined to do), then I am inclined to agree that automation serves as a distinguishing feature.

ascilite 2014: ‘Rhetoric and Reality’ – critical perspectives on educational technology by Richard Walker
This summary of the ascilite 2014 conference opens with a summary of remarks made by Shane Dawson, Cathy Gunn, and Linda Corrin on the topic of learning analytics. Dawson delivered an event keynote, during which he warned of the danger associated with use of vendor-provided solutions without “some form of application to pedagogic interventions that change academic practice and enhance the student learning experience.” Gunn cautioned against the temptation to view data as providing a complete picture of students and their learning. Corrin mentioned that the use of student-facing dashboards raised ethical concerns, as well as concerns about mitigating ‘gaming’ behaviors, and observed that pilot data provided little evidence in support of the effectiveness of such tools in changing student behavior.

Editorials

Online Education Run Amok?” Private Companies Want to Scoop Up your Child’s Data by Caitlin Emma
A compelling piece, reviewing the ways in which government and ed tech working in k-12, higher ed, and MOOCs are working to harvest student data amidst murky federal privacy laws. Citing David Hoffman (Global Privacy Officer, Intel), the piece concludes with the suggestion that next phase of educational data may not be marked by progress in predictive or analytics capabilities, but rather by advances in ethics.

Your Data Lack Value, and What You Can Do About It by Nick Sheltrown
The piece opens with the claim that “When it comes to data use in schools, our rhetoric outpaces reality. Even though many school districts lay claim to data-driven instruction, too often the expression serves only as a convenient slogan for school improvement plans, conference presentations, and accreditation documents.” Conceptually, ‘data-driven ________’ points to a basic misunderstanding about data science, by suggesting that data come first. Rather than start with the data, Sheltrown offers four basic steps that should define work with data: (1) articulate the information need, (2) identify the best measures, (3) develop processes, and (4) monitor data use for the sake of making adjustments as necessary.

What’s Wrong with Using Data to Grade Teachers? by Mercer Hall & Gina Sipley
The authors detail pushback against New York State’s new controversial teacher evaluation system. Value-added models (VAMs) aim to move beyond evaluation strictly based on student test scores, and instead to identify effective and ineffective teaching. whether this is a good idea or not, the implementation of the VAM rankings in New York has not only been reductionist, but also laughably poor in its execution.

Getting Privacy Policies Right…the First Time by Brenda Leong & Jules Polonetsky
Lessons that the education sector can learn from recent blunders from the private business sector: (1) Do not claim that you can simply change your policy at any time, (2) Do not simply say that if your company is sold, student data is an asset that will also be sold to the acquirer, and (3) Don’t disclaim responsibility for any third party code on your site.

Publications

Books

Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education
George D. Kuh, Stanley O. Ikenberry, Natasha Jankowski, Timothy Reese Cain, Peter T. Ewell, Pat Hutchings, Jillian Kinzie

American higher education needs a major reframing of student learning outcomes assessment
Dynamic changes are underway in American higher education. New providers, emerging technologies, cost concerns, student debt, and nagging doubts about quality all call out the need for institutions to show evidence of student learning. From scholars at the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education presents a reframed conception and approach to student learning outcomes assessment. The authors explain why it is counterproductive to view collecting and using evidence of student accomplishment as primarily a compliance activity.

Articles

Educational Data Crossroads: Data Literacy for Data-Driven Decision Making in Postsecondary Education
Carol Camp-Yeakey

This paper discusses how educational policies have shaped the development of large-scale educational data and reviews current practices on the educational data use in selected states. Our purposes are to: (1) analyze the common practice and use of educational data in postsecondary education institutions and identify challenges as the educational crossroads; (2) propose the concept of Data Literacy (DL) for teaching (Mandinach & Gummer, 2013a) and its relevance to researchers and stakeholders in postsecondary education; and (3) provide future implications for practices and research to increase educational DL among administrators, practitioners, and faculty in postsecondary education.

Student Privacy in Learning Analytics: An Information Ethics Perspective
Alan Rubel & Kyle M. L. Jones

In recent years, educational institutions have started using the tools of commercial data analytics in higher education. By gathering information about students as they navigate campus information systems, learning analytics “uses analytic techniques to help target instructional, curricular, and support resources” to examine student learning behaviors and change students’ learning environments. As a result, the information educators and educational institutions have at their disposal is no longer demarcated by course content and assessments, and old boundaries between information used for assessment and information about how students live and work are blurring. Our goal in this paper is to provide a systematic discussion of the ways in which privacy and learning analytics conflict and to provide a framework for understanding those conflicts.

Reports

Code of Practice for Learning Analytics: A literature Review of the Ethical and Legal Issues
Niall Sclater for Joint Information Systems Committee

Consultation by Jisc with representatives from the UK higher and further education sectors has identified a requirement for a code of practice for learning analytics. The complex ethical and legal issues around the collection and processing of student data to enhance educational processes are seen by universities and colleges as barriers to the development and adoption of learning analytics (Sclater 2014a). Consequently a literature review was commissioned by Jisc to document the main challenges likely to be faced by institutions and to provide the background for a sector-wide code of practice. This review incorporates many relevant issues raised in the literature and the legislation though it is not intended to provide definitive legal advice for institutions. It draws from 86 publications, more than a third of them published within the last year, from a wide range of sources

Videos, Presentations, and Webinars

Advancing University Teaching with Analytics: Linking Pedagogical Intent and Student Activity through Data-Based Reflection
Alyssa Wise

Calls for Papers / Participation

Conferences

Workshop: It’s About Time: 4th International Workshop on Temporal Analyses of Learning Data @LAK15 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 11 January 2015)

EDM 2015: 8th International Conference on Education Data Mining Madrid, Spain | 26 – 29 June, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 12 January 2015)
Workshop: Ethics and Privacy in Learning Analytics (#EP4LA) @LAK15 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 15 January 2015)

Workshop: LAK Data Challenge 2015 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 31 January 2015)

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

The Fourth International Conference on Data Analytics Poughkeepsie, NY | 19 – 24 July, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 27 February 2015)

Journals / Book Chapters

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

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

Employment Opportunities

Post-Doctoral

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

Faculty

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

Other

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

This Week in Learning Analytics (November 22 – 28, 2014)

We're Always Watching Pictured left to right: Ty Ty, Poohie, and Pocket
“We’re Watching You”
Pictured left to right: Ty Ty, Poohie, and Pocket

News

Student Privacy and Ethics

November 25, 2014
Seattle Public Schools waited days to tell parents of huge student information leak.
While pursuing an administrative claim agains the Seattle School Board, a man accidentally received two large pdf files containing personal information about nearly all of of the district’s special education students. LESSON: Do not send sensitive student information over email.

November 20, 2014
ClassDojo to Offer Fix for Student Data Privacy Issues.
ClassDojo * a student conduct tracking app) has announced that it will only keep children’s behavioral statistics for one school year. The announcement comes amidst criticism sparked as a result of a recent New York Times Article

Industry Updates

November 28, 2014
Find Your Match: Data Companies Transform College Applications.
Parchment, LinkedIn, and Admittedly offer students college matching tools that predict student interest on the basis of GPA, SAT scores, state, race, and other information. Some worry that such tools will oversimplify college decisions, while others point out that these kinds of recommender systems have the ability to connect students with institutions that would not otherwise be on their radar.

Awards and Accolades

November 24, 2014
Tom Enders Nationally Recognized for Visionary Leadership in Student Success.
Thomas Enders, associate vice president of Enrollment Services at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), has been presented with the Visionary Leadership Award from the Education Advisory Board (EAB), for the work he has done to increase his institution’s first-time freshman six-year graduation rate. Enders results were a consequence of a combination of predictive analytics and the implementation of an ambitious eAdvising initiative.

Blogs

How to prepare a new kind of classroom teacher by Jill Harvieux Pitner
Increased emphasis is being placed upon incorporating data literacy into American teacher training. Existing approaches to fostering data literacy involve training in data literacy as a decontextualized skill. The Urban Teacher Residency United (UTRU) Assessment and Data Literacy Scope and Sequence seeks to embed training in the use of educational data into all pre-service coursework modules, and in a way that is closely aligned with training in content areas and pedagogy.

Principal uncovers flawed data in her state’s official education reports by Carol Burris
Award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York comments on problems associated with making significant ‘data-driven’ policy decisions on the basis on poor-quality and incomplete data. ‘Bigger data’ can lead decision-makers into a false sense of certainty that obscures significant gaps. Where decisions have a real impact on the lives and behaviors of people, it is incumbent upon ‘data-driven’ decision-makers to get their priorities straight, and focus on data quality ahead of quantity. It’s time that ‘Big Data’ became ‘Better Data.’

Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Technology In The Classroom by Andrew Campbell
The author cites privacy and security concerns as the number one reason why teachers should think twice about incorporating edtech into their classrooms: “My intent is not to prevent or dissuade educators from using EdTech, but rather to ensure more do so. “Non-techy” teachers are smarter than EdTech advocates give them credit for. They know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

SOPIPA: A first step towards national standards for student data protection
The author makes a case for federal student privacy standards, along the lines of California’s Student online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA). He identifies several gaps in SOPIPA, but nevertheless upholds the act as an admirable first step, on the road to establishing more universal legislation.

Publications

Articles

Participation-Based Student Final Performance Prediction Model through Interpretable Genetic Programming: Integrating Learning Analytics, Educational Data Mining and Theory
Wanli Xing, Rui Guo, Eva Petakovic, & Sean Goggins

Building a student performance prediction model that is both practical and understandable for users is a challenging task fraught with confounding factors to collect and measure. Most current prediction models are difficult for teachers to interpret. This poses significant problems for model use (e.g. personalizing education and intervention) as well as model evaluation. In this paper, we synthesize learning analytics approaches, educational data mining (EDM) and HCI theory to explore the development of more usable prediction models and prediction model representations using data from a collaborative geometry problem solving environment: Virtual Math Teams with Geogebra (VMTwG). First, based on theory proposed by Hrastinski (2009) establishing online learning as online participation, we operationalized activity theory to holistically quantify students’ participation in the CSCL (Computer-supported Collaborative Learning) course. As a result, 6 variables, Subject, Rules, Tools, Division of Labor, Community, and Object, are constructed. This analysis of variables prior to the application of a model distinguishes our approach from prior approaches (feature selection, Ad-hoc guesswork etc.). The approach described diminishes data dimensionality and systematically contextualizes data in a semantic background. Secondly, an advanced modeling technique, Genetic Programming (GP), underlies the developed prediction model. We demonstrate how connecting the structure of VMTwG trace data to a theoretical framework and processing that data using the GP algorithmic approach outperforms traditional models in prediction rate and interpretability. Theoretical and practical implications are then discussed.

Reports

Learning Analytics: Theoretical Background, Methodology and Expected Results
European Multiple MOOC Aggregator

“Learning analytics in EMMA project will focus on: a) real-time analytics through learning analytics dashboards for instructors and students; b) retrospective analysis of the digital traces in EMMA platform. First approach aims to support participants’ learning activities whereas the second approach is intended for more in-depth analysis of the MOOCs and overall EMMA evaluation. As EMMA is a MOOC platform then calculating the dropout and clustering the participants will be one of the research aims. Additionally uptake of the knowledge, students’ progress and social structures emerging from MOOCs will be analyzed in the pilot phase.

Videos, Presentations, and Webinars

Three Paths for Learning Analytics and Beyond: Moving from Rhetoric to Reality
Colin Beerm Rolley Tickner, & David Jones

Applying Learning Analytics in Serious Games
Baltasar Fernandez-Manjon

Learning Analytics for Holistic Improvement
Ruth Deakin Crick

Calls for Papers / Participation

Conferences

NEW! Workshop: It’s About Time: 4th International Workshop on Temporal Analyses of Learning Data @LAK15 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 11 January 2015)

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

NEW! Workshop: Ethics and Privacy in Learning Analytics (#EP4LA) @LAK15 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 15 January 2015)

NEW! Workshop: LAK Data Challenge 2015 Poughkeepsie, NY | 16 – 20 March, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 31 January 2015)

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

NEW! The Fourth International Conference on Data Analytics Poughkeepsie, NY | 19 – 24 July, 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 27 February 2015)

Journals / Book Chapters

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

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

Employment Opportunities

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

Simon Fraser University (Victoria, BC, Canada)
Tenure Track Position In Educational Technology And Learning Design – The Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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

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

Conferences

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 ( http://leidenuniv.onlinelearninglab.org/ ). 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 (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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

This Week in Learning Analytics (November 8 – 14, 2014)

Beautiful photo taken by my wife, Elisa Wallace at our home, Rock Creek Farms.
Beautiful photo taken by my wife, Elisa Wallace at our home, Rock Creek Farms. Pictured is Hwin, whom Elisa is currently training to compete at the 2015 Mustang Magic competition in Fort Worth, TX.

Latest News

14 November 2014
DeltaDNA makes analytics services free to academia
Scotland-based analytics firm DeltaDNA has creased a new free licence for universities and other academic institutions. The unlimited, non-commercial academic licence gives users access to the firm’s data platform and complete analytics and player relationship management toolset in order to better understand the nature of player behaviour in free-to-play games […]

12 November 2014
STAR Assessments Approved by California Department of Education for Diagnostic Assessment in Grade Two
Renaissance Learning, K12 assessment and learning analytics company, announced today that schools in California will be able to use its STAR Early Learning (consisting of STAR Reading and STAR Early Literacy) and STAR Math to meet requirements for grade two in the state’s newly adopted assessment system. […]

11 November 2014
MRUN and IRU to work together on 3-year research projects starting 2015
Ministry of Higher Education and the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) of Australia have agreed to each allocate RM2 million for a three-year research programme collaboration beginning next year. The programme, which involves Malaysia Research University Network (MRUN) and IRU, aims to improve learning and teaching skills/methods through technology in universities and to undertake in-depth research activites into fields of combined interest. […]

Latest Blogs

From MOOCs to Learning Analytics: Scratching the surface of the ‘visual’ by Jeremy Knox
A thoughtful and well-written piece exploring the common visual element in both MOOCs and learning analytics, and expresses concern about the emphasis on tools over pedagogy, and the extent to which am emphasis on visual elements might co-opt deep engagement and critical reflection on the part of learners and practitioners alike.

Featured Videos, Presentations & Webinars



Recent Publications

Am I doing well? A4Learning as a self-awareness tool to integrate in Learning Management Systems
Luis De La Fuente Valentín & Daniel Burgos

Most current online education scenarios use a Learning Management System (LMS) as the basecamp for the course activities. The LMS offers some centralized services and also integrates functionality from third party services (cloud services). This integration enriches the platform and increases the educational opportunities of the scenario. In such a distance scenario, with the students working in different physical spatial locations, they find difficult to determine if their activity level matches the expectation of the course. A4Learning performs a daily-updated analysis of learners’ activities by establishing the similarity between two given students. That is, finds students that are doing similar things in the Learning Management System. Then, the system finds and represents how similar students have similar achievements in the course. A4Learning can be integrated within the LMS to provide the students with a visual representation their similarity with others as an awareness mechanism, so that the students can determine the achievements of similar students in previous courses and estimate their own performance.

A Survey on the Classification Techniques In Educational Data Mining
Nitya Upadhyay & Vinodini Katiyar

Due to increasing interest in data mining and educational system, educational data mining is the emerging topic for research community. educational data mining means to extract the hidden knowledge from large repositories of data with the use of technique and tools. educational data mining develops new methods to discover knowledge from educational database and used for decision making in educational system. The various techniques of data mining like classification. clustering can be applied to bring out hidden knowledge from the educational data. In this paper, we focus on the educational data mining and classification techniques. In this study we analyze attributes for the prediction of student’s behavior and academic performance by using WEKA open source data mining tool and various classification methods like decision trees, C4.5 algorithm, ID3 algorithm etc.

Proceedings of the 2014 ACM workshop on Multimodal Learning Analytics Workshop and Grand Challenge
Editors: Xavier Ochoa, Marcelo Worsley, Katherine Chiluiza & Saturnino Luz

Learning Analytics is the “middle-space” where Educational Sciences, Computer Science, Learning Technologies and Data Science converge. The main goal of this new field of knowledge is to contribute to new empirical findings, theories, methods, and metrics for understanding how students learn and to use that knowledge to improve those students’ learning. Multimodal Learning Analytics, which emphasizes the analysis of natural rich modalities of communication during situated learning activities, is one of the most challenging but, at time, more promising areas of Learning Analytics. The Third International Workshop on Multimodal Learning Analytics brings together researchers in multimodal interaction and systems, cognitive and learning sciences, educational technologies, and related areas to discuss the recent developments and future opportunities in this sub-field.

Emotion analysis meets learning analytics: online learner profiling beyond numerical data
Calkin Suero Montero & Jarkko Suhonen

Learning analytics is an emerging field of research, which deals with collecting and analysing data about learners and their learning context, as well as developing solutions that utilise the analysed data. Traditionally, learning analytics methods focus on the analysis of learners’ digital trails or numerical big data, e.g., online material access, digital learners’ records, grades, and length of interaction with the learning environment. However, profiling a learner without taking into account the emotional aspects that may hinder the learner’s progress, can only offer an incomplete view of the learning experience. Hence, in this paper, we elaborate on the fusion of emotional aspects (i.e., emotion data) and learning analytics, specifically in online learning settings. We bring an open discussion to the educational technology community regarding the potential of analysing learner’s emotions from pedagogical texts (i.e., non-structured text data) generated during an online course. We also discuss the role of negative emotions during learning, the ethical issues with the use of emotion data and the technology acceptance and reliability.

Calls for Papers / Participation

Conferences

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

NEW! 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)

Employment Opportunities

NEW! Leiden University (Leiden, Netherlands)
Postdoc Data & Learning Analytics for Online Learning – The function involves doing research and conducting experiments within the Online Learning Lab ( http://leidenuniv.onlinelearninglab.org/ ). 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 (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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

This Week in Learning Analytics (October 25 – 31, 2014)

Inspired by Halloween and comments made at the Blackboard Institutional Performance Conference last week | Image by Timothy Harfield Inspired by Halloween and comments made at the Blackboard Institutional Performance Conference last week
Image by Timothy Harfield

Latest News

30 October 2014
Survey Takes Pulse of Civitas Learning Partners’ Work in Analytics and Student Success
Civitas Learning today announced the results of its first “Pulse” survey recently conducted at its Pioneer Summit. More than 70 individuals representing more than 40 higher education institutions and systems participated in the survey. This is the first step in the ongoing effort to benchmark the burgeoning community’s work in predictive analytics focused on student success.

30 October 2014
Learning about Learning Analytics @ #Mozfest
Summary by Adam Lofting of a session he hosted, alongside Andrew Sliwinski, Doug Belshaw, and Simon Knight, on “Learning Analytics for Good in the Age of Big Data.” Lofting reflects upon the learning that took place as a result of this session, through a ‘silly’ meta-exercise.

29 October 2014
Notes from Utrecht Workshop on Ethics and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics
Summary of excellent discussion that took place during the Workshop on Ethics & Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics, an event co-organized by LACE and SURF, and held in Utrecht on 28 October, 2014.

29 October 2014
Statistician explores how faculty can excel in blended learning environments
In a recent lecture sponsored by Emory’s QuanTM, learning analytics expert Chuck Dziuban explained trends about the new learning environment that blends face-to-face and virtual instruction.

Latest Blogs

The Quest for Data that Really Impacts Student Success by Dian Schaffhauser
A really nice review of the field, including 3 learning analytics tips worth knowing (from Josh Baron)

  1. Collaborate with other institutions
  2. Don’t jump into an analytics product willy-nilly
  3. Take care with ethics and data privacy considerations

OPINION: Personalization, Possibilities and Challenges with Learning Analytics by Arthur VanderVeen & Nick Sheltrown
The authors identify two key challenges facing personalized learning through learning analytics:

  1. the need to expand educators’ understanding of what is possible through analytics-driven personalized learning, and
  2. the need to actively engage with practicing educators on how to design and integrate analytics-driven learning experiences

Learning Analytics
Review of Greller and Drachsler article: Translating Learning into Numbers: A Generic Framework for Learning Analytics.

Tribal Student Insight: an interview with Chris Ballard by Niall Sclater
Interview with Chris Ballard, Data Scientist for Student Insight, about a tool that allows customers to build models to predict student risk. The product is currently being developed by Tribal with the University of Wolverhampton.

Recent Publications

Supporting competency-assessment through a learning analytics approach using enriched rubrics
Alex Rayón, Mariluz Guenaga, & Asier Núñez

Universities have increasingly emphasized competencies as central elements of students’ development. However, the assessment of these competencies is not an easy task. The availability of data that learners generate in computer mediated learning offers great potential to study how learning takes place, and thus, to gather evidences for competency-assessment using enriched rubrics. The lack of data interoperability and the decentralization of those educational applications set out a challenge to exploit trace data. To face these problems we have designed and developed SCALA (Scalable Competence Assessment through a Learning Analytics approach), an analytics system that integrates usage -how the user interacts with resources- and social -how students and teachers interact among them-trace data to support competency assessment. The case study of SCALA presents teachers a dashboard with enriched rubrics of blended datasets obtained from six assessment learning activities, performed with a group of 28 students working teamwork competency. In terms of knowledge discovery, we obtain results applying clustering and association rule mining algorithms. Thus, we provide a visual analytics tool ready to support competency-assessment.

Foundations of Big Data and Analytics in Higher Education
Ben Daniel & Russell Butson

This paper contributes to our theoretical understanding of the role Big Data plays in addressing contemporary challenges institutions of higher education face. The paper draws upon emergent literature in Big Data and discusses ways to better utilise the growing data available from various sources within the institutions of higher education, to help understand the complexity of influences on studentͲrelated outcomes, teaching and the ‘what if questions’ for research experimentation. The paper further presents opportunities and challenges associated with the implementation of Big Data analytics in higher education.

Dealing with complexity: educational data and tools for learning analytics
Ángel Hernández-García & Miguel Ángel Conde

The evolution of information technologies and their widespread use have caused an increase in complexity of the educational landscape, as institutions and instructors try to absorb and incorporate these innovations to learning processes. This in turn poses new and countless new challenges to educational research in general, and to new disciplines based on educational data analysis such as learning analytics in particular. In this paper, we introduce the Track on Learning Analytics within the Technological Ecosystems for Enhancing Multiculturality 2014 Conference, a track that aims to present new approaches that allow dealing with this complexity and solving some of these challenges.

The paper provides an overview of the motivations behind the proposal of this track, with a general introduction to learning analytics in this complex context and a presentation of the main challenges in current learning analytics research, both from a data analysis perspective and a tool analysis approach; this introduction is followed by an insight of the submission management and participants’ selection process. Then, a detailed summary of the manuscripts accepted for participation in the conference is presented.

Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining in Practice: A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Evidence

Zacharoula Papamitsiou & Anastasios A. Economides

This paper aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive background for understanding current knowledge on Learning Analytics (LA) and Educational Data Mining (EDM) and its impact on adaptive learning. It constitutes an overview of empirical evidence behind key objectives of the potential adoption of LA/EDM in generic educational strategic planning. We examined the literature on experimental case studies conducted in the domain during the past six years (2008-2013). Search terms identified 209 mature pieces of research work, but inclusion criteria limited the key studies to 40. We analyzed the research questions, methodology and findings of these published papers and categorized them accordingly. We used non-statistical methods to evaluate and interpret findings of the collected studies. The results have highlighted four distinct major directions of the LA/EDM empirical research. We discuss on the emerged added value of LA/EDM research and highlight the significance of further implications. Finally, we set our thoughts on possible uncharted key questions to investigate both from pedagogical and technical considerations.

Assessment of Robust Learning with Educational Data Mining
Ryan S. Baker & Albert T. Corbett

Many university leaders and faculty have the goal of promoting learning that connects across domains and prepares students with skills for their whole lives. However, as assessment emerges in higher education, many assessments focus on knowledge and skills that are specific to a single domain. Reworking assessment in higher education to focus on more robust learning is an important step towards making assessment match the goals of the context where it is being applied. In particular, assessment should focus on whether learning is robust (Koedinger, Corbett, & Perfetti, 2012), whether learning occurs in a way that transfers, prepares students for future learning, and is retained over time; and also on skills and meta–competencies that generalize across domains. By doing so, we can measure the outcomes that we as educators want to create, and increase the chance that our assessments help us to improve the outcomes we wish to create. In this article, we discuss and compare both traditional test–based methods for assessing robust learning, and new ways of inferring robustness of learning while the learning itself is occurring, comparing the methods within the domain of college genetics.

Calls for Papers / Participation

Conferences

Open Learning Analytics Network – Summit Europe Amsterdam | 1 January 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: None, but spaces are limited)

Third International Conference on Data Mining & Knowledge Management Process Dubai, UAE | 23-24 January, 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 31 October 2014)

Learning at Scale 2015 Vancouver, BC (Canada) | 14 – 15 March 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 22 October 2014)

2015 Southeast Educational Data Symposium (SEEDS) Emory University (Atlanta, GA) | 20 Feb 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 14 November 2014)

11th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative
Learning: “Exploring the material conditions of learning: Opportunities and
challenges for CSCL”
 
University of Gothenburg, Sweden | 7 – 11 June 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

28th annual Florida AI Research Symposium (FLAIRS-28) on Intelligent Learning Technologies Hollywood, Florida, USA (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

Journals / Book Chapters

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

Employment Opportunities

Simon Fraser University (Victoria, BC, Canada)
Tenure Track Position In Educational Technology And Learning Design – The Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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 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

This Week in Learning Analytics (October 18 – October 24, 2014)

Chuck Dziuban at Emory University, speaking on the topic of "Teaching and Learning in an Evolving Educational Environment"
Chuck Dziuban at Emory University, speaking on the topic of “Teaching and Learning in an Evolving Educational Environment”

Latest News

19 October 2014
Data, Analytics, and Learning MOOC goes live
The long-awaited edX MOOC on Data, Analytics, and Learning went live this week. The #DALMOOC, which is taught by George Siemens, Carolyn Rosé, Dragan Gasevic, and Ryan Baker, provides an introduction to learning analytics, its tools and methods, and various ways in which it might be deployed in educational environments. It is also an experiment in its own right, allowing for multiple learning pathways: either in a standard edX xMOOC format, or as a social competency-based and self-directed cMOOC.

I have yet to engage much in the course but, at first glance, I have one small (or large, depending on how you look at it) criticism: The DALMOOC course agreement is confusing.

Data from participation in this Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will be used for research purposes in order to gain knowledge for better design of support for student learning in MOOCs. When participants are logged in to this course, the information they enter into the course interface will be logged for analysis. The data will not be shared beyond the researchers who have approval to use this data. Personal identifiers will be replaced by unique identifiers. A possible risk is a breach of confidentiality. Participation is voluntary, and participants may stop participating at any time. There will be no cost to participants for participation in this study, and likewise no financial compensation will be offered. There may be no personal benefit from participation in the study beyond the knowledge received in the area of learning analytics, which is the topic of the course.

On the one hand, the course agreement (note: NOT a research participation agreement) is the first page that the student encounters when clicking the ‘Courseware’ tab (following registration), and implies that participation in the course is contingent upon one’s agreement to participate in a the research project. This implied contingency would seem to contradict the first ‘O’ in MOOC. On the other hand, it states that participation is voluntary and that it may be withdrawn at any time. What is not clear, is whether withdrawal from participation means withdrawal from the study or from the course. The way that this agreement is structured strongly implies that course participation requires participation in the study. As a test, I have not clicked the “I have read the above an consent to participation” button and have, to date, not been limited in my ability to participate in the course. I wonder about the ethics of this approach to gaining consent and, at the very least, wish that the language of the DALMOOC Course Agreement was less equivocal. [Read more]

21 October 2014
Study will Teach Algebra with Student-Authored Stories that Draw on Their Own Interests
A new study by Candace Walkington (Southern Methodist University) will test the effectiveness of teaching algebra by embedding algebraic concepts into students’ day-to-day lives. The study uses a mixed methodology, employing qualitative and data mining to test the effectiveness of personalized instruction on conceptual comprehension and retention, and attitudes toward math.

This is an approach that is often employed (or rather SHOULD often be employed) in the humanities (nothing like using love and sex to make sense out of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic), and resonates with the educational philosophy of John Dewey, for whom learning is a function of a concept’s importance, which, in turn, is a function of past experience, present necessity, and future aspiration. It is also an approach that might also serve to ‘catch’ more humanistically oriented students who do not consider themselves very ‘math’ or ‘science.’ [Read more]

Latest Blogs

Social Learning, Blending xMOOCs & cMOOCs, and Dual Layer MOOCs by Matt Crosslin
A really nice discussion of the design methodology for #DALMOOC. Specifically, Crosslin addresses three primary quetions, of which only two are really interesting (the third involved color selection):

  • Don’t most MOOCs blend elements of xMOOCs and cMOOCs together? The xMOOC/cMOOC distinction is too simple and DALMOOC is not really doing anything different.
  • Isn’t it ironic to have a Google Hangout to discuss an interactive social learning course but not allow questions or interaction?

Learning analytics using business intelligence systems by Niall Sclater
A review of several generic Business Intelligence solutions (including Cognos, Qlikview, and Tableau) which are typically employed for the sake of gaining operational insight, and ways in which they might be leveraged to gain insight into student learning experience as well.

Use of an Early Warning System by Stephen J. Aguilar
Video of a lightening talk version (~5 min) of a talk originally delivered at the 2014 Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference, on “Perception and Use of an Early Warning System During a Higher Education Transition Program.”

Teaching and Learning in an Evolving Educational Environment by Charles Dziuban
Full video of the inaugural lecture in Emory University’s 2014-2015 Learning Analytics Speaker Series. Dziuban uses a variety of metaphors (including the Anna Karenina principle) to offer a perspective on learning analytics through the lens of the scholarship of teaching and learning, and explains the successful support model that he has implemented with faculty at the University of Central Florida.

On the Question of Validity in Learning Analytics by Adam Cooper
Cooper calls for a rethinking of the term ‘validity’ within the context of learning analytics. Although he covers himself by saying that “This post is a personal view, incomplete and lacking academic rigour,” what he nevertheless seems to call for is a conflation of methodological and ethical concerns, and a loosening of conceptual clarity in the name of facilitating practice by non-experts.

At the end of his post, Cooper asks He asks: “what do you think?” When dealing with technologies with the likelihood of significantly affecting human behavior, conceptual sophistication in both ethical and methodological matters is more, not less, important. In the absence of rigor, we run the risk of under-appreciating complexity, and implementing interventions that cause harm. What non-expert practitioners need is not a ‘dumbed-down’ vocabulary (or technology that does the work), but rather a set of expert advisors capable of fully assessing problems and solutions from a wide variety of perspectives in order to arrive at solutions that, even if not perfect, are at least fully informed.

Recent Publications

Learning Analytics as a Metacognitive Tool
Eva Durall & Begoña Gros

The use of learning analytics is entering in the field of research in education as a promising way to support learning. However, in many cases data are not transparent for the learner. In this regard, Educational institutions shouldn’t escape the need of making transparent for the learners how their personal data is being tracked and used in order to build inferences, as well as how its use is going to affect in their learning. In this contribution, we sustain that learning analytics offers opportunities to the students to reflect about learning and develop metacognitive skills. Student-centered analytics are highlighted as a useful approach for reframing learning analytics as a tool for supporting self-directed and self-regulated learning. The article also provides insights about the design of learning analytics and examples of experiences that challenge traditional implementations of learning analytics.

Premise of Learning Analytics for Educational Context: Through Concept to Practice
Yasemin Gülbahar & Hale Ilgaz

The idea of using recorded data for evaluating the effectiveness of teaching-learning process and using the outcomes for improvement and enhancing quality lead to the emergence of the field known as “learning analytics”. Based on the analysis of this data, possible predictions could be reached to make suggestions and give decisions in order to implement interventions for the improvement of the quality of the process. Hence, the concept of “learning analytics” is a promising and important field of study, with its processes and potential to advance e-learning. In this study, learning analytics are defined in two ways – business and e-learning environments. As an e-learning environment, Moodle LMS was chosen and analyzed through SAS (Statistical Analysis System) Level of Analytics. According to the analysis, some practical ideas developed. However learning analytics seem to be mostly based on quantitative data, whereas qualitative insights can also be gained through various approaches which can be used to strengthen the numerical data by providing detailed facts about a phenomenon. Thus, in addition to focusing on the learner, for research studies at the course, program, and institutional level; the research should include instructors and administrators in order to reveal the best practices of instructional design and fulfill the premise of effective teaching.

Calls for Papers / Participation

Conferences

NEW! Open Learning Analytics Network – Summit Europe Amsterdam | 1 January 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: None, but spaces are limited)

Third International Conference on Data Mining & Knowledge Management Process Dubai, UAE | 23-24 January, 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 31 October 2014)

Learning at Scale 2015 Vancouver, BC (Canada) | 14 – 15 March 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 22 October 2014)

2015 Southeast Educational Data Symposium (SEEDS) Emory University (Atlanta, GA) | 20 Feb 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 14 November 2014)

11th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative
Learning: “Exploring the material conditions of learning: Opportunities and
challenges for CSCL”
 
University of Gothenburg, Sweden | 7 – 11 June 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

28th annual Florida AI Research Symposium (FLAIRS-28) on Intelligent Learning Technologies Hollywood, Florida, USA (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

Journals / Book Chapters

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

Employment Opportunities

Simon Fraser University (Victoria, BC, Canada)
Tenure Track Position In Educational Technology And Learning Design – The Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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 of Technology, Sydney (Sydney, AUS)
Research Fellow: Data Scientist – We invite applications from highly motivated data scientists wishing to work in a dynamic team, creating tools to provide insight into diverse datasets within the university and beyond. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds, although knowledge of educational theory and practice will be highly advantageous. You are a great communicator, bringing expertise in some combination of statistics, data mining, machine learning and visualisation, and a readiness to stretch yourself to new challenges. We are ready to consider academic experience from Masters level to several years’ Post-Doctoral research, as well as candidates who have pursued non-academic, more business-focused tracks. 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

This Week in Learning Analytics (October 11 – October 17, 2014)

MyNameIsAshley
Personified Potted Plant Pic | Photograph by Timothy D. Harfield

Latest News

10 October 2014
Online and In Control: Emerging Adaptive Software Puts Faculty Members in Charge of Course Creation
Smart Sparrow, a company that produces customizable adaptive platforms, is one of seven finalists for a $20 Million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop personalized digital courseware. Smart Sparrow has worked recently with Ariel Anbar (Arizona State University) to develop a course called Habitable Worlds, which is about space exploration, climate science, and the search for life beyond earth. Unlike other adaptive learning platforms, which cause concern by seeking to make the teacher superfluous, Smart Sparrow demonstrates that it is possible to create a flexible environment that instructors can use to implement personal visions. [Read more]

10 October 2014
Ed. Data-Mining Research Effort Wins Federal Grant, Raises Privacy Questions
The National Science Foundation recently awarded a $4.8 million grant to a coalition of research universities, led by Carnegie Mellon University. “LearnSphere” will produce a data sharing infrastructure between institutions, and including third-party vendors. Although the infrastructure promises to improve predictive analytics and adaptive learning capabilities, it was also alarmed student privacy advocates, who insist that LearnSphere should be further evaluated before moving forward. [Read more]

13 October 2014
National Study Quantifies Learning Benefits for Students Using Compass Learning® Solutions
Compass Learning, a leader in learning acceleration, released the results of a national study conducted to determine the extent to which the company’s software solutions power student learning. The results conclude that students who used Compass Learning software in the 2013-14 school year were 2.3 times more likely to accelerate academically when compared with their peers, who received regular classroom instruction without the software. In addition, students who used the software grew nearly twice as much as students who did not use the software. [Read more]

14 October 2014
Successful Scandinavian seminar on learning analytics in schools
Jan Hylen provides a summary of events from the one-day seminar on learning analytics organized by LACE, Skolverket, and the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education. [Read more]

Latest Blogs

Look who’s data mining your toddlers by Michelle Malkin
Malkin expresses concern about the profit motives of private companies as they seek to datify more and more of student lives. With special attention to TS Gold, Malkin points to an increase in testing burden placed on teachers and argues that the real benefit of big data collections is not for students, parents, or schools, but for large EdTech companies interested in selling customized learning products.

Keeping Up With… Learning Analytics by Steven J. Bell
Bell weighs the pros and cons of learning analytics, and suggests that educational data be used only to the extent that student data privacy is maximally protected

Why Wearables Are the New Gateways to Human Knowledge by Toni Fuhrman
Interview with Emory Craig (The College of New Rochelle) and Maya Georgieva (New York University’s Stern School of Business) about the future of wearable technologies in the classroom. Craig views wearables and learning analytics as complementarily symptomatic of the progressive move toward personalization. Absent, however, is any comment on the extent to which universities will have the ability to track wearable technology use. Regardless, the biggest challenge facing institutions right now is the ability to support the expanding constellation of such devices.

Using Data to Improve Student Success by Paul Prinsloo
A reprint of a post originally published in World University News. Prinsloo summarizes the state of learning analytics in South African Universities, through a review of various strategies being employed, specific projects, and efforts to ensure that student data are used ethically and transparently.

The Benefits of Learning Analytics by Rebecca Glasgow
Glasgow describes how she uses the built-in analytics found in Google Blogger (including page views, geolocation data, and page referrals) to assess engagement within a distributed online learning environment.

Embracing the chaos of data: Pete Warden on the upside of unstructured data. by Audrey Watters
In conversation with Pete Warden on the quest for perfection through structured data. Structured data is always better, says Warden, but it is in short supply relative to the bounty of unstructured data that surrounds us.

Twitter Archeology of the Learning Analytics Community by Bodong Chen
Fascinating ‘twitter archaeology,’ produced through applying various forms of analysis to twitter archives from past iterations of the Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference (LAK)

Positivism and Big Data by Stephen Downes
Agreeing with the critique of data science as positivism, Downes disagrees with the the ways in which positivism is understood. Downes argues that an accurate understanding of positivism allows for a more damning criticism of data science: “big data is transforming deeply contextual data into context-free data. Any principles derived from such data are thereby impacted.”

Recent Publications

Group Learning Assessment: Developing a Theory-Informed Analytics
Xing, W; Wadholm, R; Petakovic, E; Goggins, S

Assessment in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is an implicit issue, and most assessments are summative in nature. Process-oriented methods of assessment can vary significantly in their indicators and typically only partially address the complexity of group learning. Moreover, the majority of these assessment methods require time-intensive coding of qualitative data. Our study explores the operationalization of activity theory to frame group activity in a CSCL context by breaking group work into six dimensions. We map log data generated by a collaborative software, Virtual Math Teams with Geogebra, with these dimensions and construct six measures. This step lays the groundwork for automating CSCL assessment. Next, we move beyond identification and analysis of those measures to infer group learning using human judgment and employ a clustering algorithm to categorize groups with similar performance, allowing us to consider the six indicators simultaneously and to step further toward assessment automation. Last, in terms of the complexity of group learning in a socio-technical context, we discuss a web-based tool that not only shows group-level assessment but also integrates with our previous work on individual assessment, thus providing teachers with a diverse of group learning.

Where is Research on Massive Open Online Courses Headed? A data analysis of the MOOC Research Initiative
Dragan Gašević, Vitomir Kovanović, Srećko Joksimović, George Siemens

This paper reports on the results of an analysis of the research proposals submitted to
the MOOC Research Initiative (MRI) funded by the Gates Foundation and administered by Athabasca University. The goal of MRI was to mobilize researchers to engage into critical interrogation of MOOCs. The submissions – 266 in Phase 1, out of which 78 were recommended for resubmission in the extended form in Phase 2, and finally, 28 funded – were analyzed by applying conventional and automated content analysis methods as well as citation network analysis methods. The results revealed the main research themes that could form a framework of the future MOOC research: i) student engagement and learning success, ii) MOOC design and curriculum, iii) self – regulated learning and social learning, iv) social network analysis and networked learning, and v) motivation, attitude and success criteria. The theme of social learning received the greatest interest and had the highest success in attracting funding. The submissions that planned on using learning analytics methods were more successful. The use of mixed methods was by far the most popular. Design – based research methods were also suggested commonly, but the questions about their applicability arose regarding the feasibility to perform multiple iterations in the MOOC context and rather a limited focus on technological support for interventions. The submissions were dominated by the researchers from the field of education (75% of the accepted proposals). Not only was this a possible cause of a complete lack of success of the educational technology innovation theme, but it could be a worrying sign of the fragmentation in the research community and the need to increased efforts towards enhancing interdisciplinarity.

Digital Engagement: Driving Student Success
Rosemary Hayes

Poor retention and completion rates symptomize the challenges colleges and universities face in their attempts to meet the needs and aspirations of diverse student populations. Early models of student attrition identified numerous student factors and characteristics that increase the likelihood a student will not complete college (i.e., at-risk characteristics). Institutions have used this information to develop programs and implement technology to target these specific factors and to mitigate risks. The functional units that provide the services and manage the data typically operate within organizational silos, however, with all the complications this separation of efforts can introduce.

Despite the benefits these risk-mitigation programs offer students, they have not significantly improved student retention and completion rates. According to Vincent Tinto and Brian Pusser, this failure indicates that we must rethink our focus on student attributes and examine how the whole organization can better engage in promoting student success. This article explores the problems underlying the college student success challenge, limitations of the current approaches, and a digital engagement strategy that institutions can implement to support improvements in student outcomes.

Calls for Papers / Participation

NEW! Third International Conference on Data Mining & Knowledge Management Process Dubai, UAE | 23-24 January, 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 31 October 2014)

Learning at Scale 2015 Vancouver, BC (Canada) | 14 – 15 March 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 22 October 2014)

2015 Southeast Educational Data Symposium (SEEDS) Emory University (Atlanta, GA) | 20 Feb 2015 (APPLICATION DEADLINE: 14 November 2014)

11th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative
Learning: “Exploring the material conditions of learning: Opportunities and
challenges for CSCL”
 
University of Gothenburg, Sweden | 7 – 11 June 2015 (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

28th annual Florida AI Research Symposium (FLAIRS-28) on Intelligent Learning Technologies Hollywood, Florida, USA (SUBMISSION DEADLINE: 17 November 2014)

Upcoming Global Events

20 October 2014
Data, Analytics and Learning: An introduction to the logic and methods of analysis of data to improve teaching and learning

University of Texas Arlington | EdX

Employment Opportunities

Simon Fraser University (Palo Alto, California)
Tenure Track Position In Educational Technology And Learning Design – The Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University (http://www.sfu.ca/education.html) 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 of Technology, Sydney (Sydney, AUS)
Research Fellow: Data Scientist – We invite applications from highly motivated data scientists wishing to work in a dynamic team, creating tools to provide insight into diverse datasets within the university and beyond. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds, although knowledge of educational theory and practice will be highly advantageous. You are a great communicator, bringing expertise in some combination of statistics, data mining, machine learning and visualisation, and a readiness to stretch yourself to new challenges. We are ready to consider academic experience from Masters level to several years’ Post-Doctoral research, as well as candidates who have pursued non-academic, more business-focused tracks. 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