Handbook of learning analytics

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Learning analytics has emerged as an important new field of Technology Enhanced Learning and has grown quickly since the first Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) conference held in Banff, Canada in 2011. The Society for Learning Analytics Research (SOLAR) website provides a useful overview of the field. It also hosts a learning analytics journal and runs various conferences and events. A new edited collection ‘A Handbook of Learning Analytics’  has just been published, with chapter contributions from key researchers in the field. It is divided into four sections:

  • Foundational concepts
  • Techniques and approaches
  • Applications
  • Institutional strategies and systems approaches

The tools and techniques associated with learning analytics can help identify students at risk, as well as help improve learning and teaching processes.  Together the chapters represent a rich overview of the state of the art in learning analytics research. Chapters explore different facets of learning analytics, such as: a focus on predictive as opposed to explanatory modeling to measure learning and teaching. content analytics, discourse analytics and emotional analytics. There is an interesting chapter on learning analytics dashboards that can help visualise learning traces to give users insights into the learning process. These dashboards can:

  • provide feedback on learning activities,
  • support reflection and decision making,
  • increase engagement and motivation,
  • reduce dropout.

Of particular note is the chapter that focussed on the use of learning analytics for professional development to make both formal and informal learning processes traceable and visible to support professionals with their learning. The final section looks at institutional strategies. The first chapter in this section looks at the challenges of institutional adoption. One of the chapters in this section begins with the following powerful statement which is at the heart of the vision associated with this exciting new research field:

 

Learning analytics holds the potential to transform the way we learn, work, and live our lives. To achieve its potential, learning analytics must be clearly defined, embedded in institutional processes and practices, and incorporated into institutional student success strategies

 

 

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