Using learning analytics in personal tutorials: breaking into students’ consciousness

The last post was about some of the psychological hurdles that we need to overcome in order for students to realise that they need to change and the one before about the importance for tutors of relationship building and setting short term goals. This short piece is about how the use of learning analytics data …

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Five questions about learning analytics ethics

In the first term of my first year, I skipped a seminar on DH Lawrence. My tutor, Dr Mara Kalnins, pulled me up at the start of the next seminar and politely expressed her disappointment. She also asked me to make up what I'd missed by reading about Carl Jung. I'm not sure that 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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“Protect us from Newton’s single vision”: or why is a humanities graduate working in big data?

I'm most of the way through Nate Silver's "The Signal and the Noise: the art and science of prediction" I'm really struck by the fact that as I'm reading, I'm learning new tools and reference points to critique our learning analytics work. It's quite possible that if I'd a background in social sciences, mathematics or computer …

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Weapons of Math Destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy

Like the last post ('Everybody Lies'), Weapons of Math Destruction is written by a data scientist. However, there is a significant difference between the tone of the two texts. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is clearly a bright guy, still fascinated with the potential of big data (although make no mistake, he can see the flaws and potential …

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Everybody lies: what the internet can tell us about who we really are

In the UK, 2018 might come to be seen as an important year in our appreciation of just how significantly data is playing a role in our shaping our lives in ways that are surprising, horrifying and certainly without meaningful consent. We can be grateful of the actions of journalists in the Guardian and Channel …

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Should there be a data science equivalent of the Hippocratic oath?

Yes I'm going to follow up with a couple of book reviews, but I think the following taken from Cathy O'Neil's brilliant Weapons of Math Destruction deserves sharing widely. I will remember that I didn't make the world, and it doesn't satisfy my equations. Though I will use models to estimate value, I will not …

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Are We Building Algorithms of Oppression?

How ideological are the algorithms used in learning analytics? At the core of any learning analytics process is the algorithm. Algorithms are just computational lines of code, so they're neutral, objective, unproblematic. Of course we have to take into account the legal GDPR requirements for privacy and destroying old data etc., but surely we don't …

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