Diagnosing student ‘risk’: categorising learning analytics to precent early withdrawal

Universities are awash with data about students that could function as early warning signs that a student may need help. These data sources range from the highly personal, for example tutors observing that a student appears to be having a bad day, to the highly systematised, for example automatic early warnings based on a metric …

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Big data/AI: examples of concerning practice unintended consequences

I'm not apocalyptic about the role of big data in society generally and education specifically, but I do feel strongly that we all have a responsibility to stand back and think about how we accept and use technology. The brilliant writer Yuval Noah Harari has written a great piece on the philosophical challenges of what …

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Excellence from Analytics: Panel Discussion at Digifest, 12th March 2019

I have just taken part in a panel discussion at the Jisc Digifest 2019 event. The session was called Excellence from Analytics. I  know that, as a panel, we all worried about whether we'd been informative (or excellent), but I found it really interesting to listen to the other panellists talk (perhaps not the point). …

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Favourite big data proving nothing story #1 (yes we’re doing shaggy dog stories now)

A few years ago a colleague attended an event with a company of data specialists. The company was experimenting with personalised learning for professionals. As I understand it they had lots of interesting ideas about personalising online learning. For example, if you got an answer wrong about marketing, you'd be routed to an easier set …

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Issues using data-based alerts in learning analytics

One of the benefits of learning analytics is the capacity to not just automatically analyse data, but also to automate some or all of the next steps. I'm primarily interested in learning analytics for student success, for me the automatic alert when a student is potentially at risk of failure is key. Whether red flags …

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Submission to the All-Party Group on Data Ethics

In November 2018, the UK Parliamentary All Party Group on Data Ethics launched a call for evidence about the use of data and machine learning in four areas: Education Healthcare Autonomous vehicles Policing With the help of some excellent colleagues, I submitted a paper on behalf of the institution (Nottingham Trent University) outlining our great …

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