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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The HERE Project (2008 – 2011)

Connecting Learning Analytics with earlier work on Student Retention Between 2008 and 2011, we led a small research consortium looking at those factors that caused students to consider leaving early and those factors that helped them to stay for the Higher Education Funding Council/ Paul Hamlyn-funded "What Works? Student Retention and Success"(1) programme. The work …

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Student ‘Success’

Why use learning analytics? There are a number of potential reasons for Universities to invest in learning analytics (1): curriculum design, testing marketing effectiveness, insights into service provision etc, but for most institutions interest appears to be primarily about some form of student success. This may be about raising students' awareness of their own learning, …

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Am I using analytics in my own life?

Am I walking the learning analytics walk or just talking about it? Certainly stumbling. And given this lovely blog piece on the pedometer by @audreywatters measuring my steps might be a good place to start.  Keeping fit I am a fitbit wearer. I like wearing a watch. I also quite like receiving alerts about meetings, texts and …

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Data: almost useless as an agent of change?

The comedian Mae Martin makes a great point in her BBC Radio 4 NOW show routine on addiction (30/03/2018). "Give me a cheer if you've ever read how your smartphone might be bad for you." And of course the audience cheers "We know, we've read the articles, we know there's potentially harmful radiation, our attention spans …

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Making the Dashboard less accurate: probably the best decision we made about learning analytics

In 2013 we worked closely with the (then) tech start-up Solutionpath to build the pilot version of the Student Dashboard. Over a few months in the summer we went through a developmental process. Solutionpath built their proof-of-concept algorithm We shared multiple years of anonymised data and they used this data to see if the algorithm …

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Learning analytics: you should only have to think once

We've recently faced a difficult meeting with academics. Earlier in the year, we had a technical problem (a big reliability one) and now our academics are understandably far more critical of all aspects of the Dashboard. There were a number of overarching themes: There were too many different data points each requiring a decision There …

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Nobody cares about your project

Our University has been really successful at piloting and then implementing learning analytics across the entire institution. However, we're far from perfect, we have a small team working on the project, our institutional systems were never built with learning analytics in mind and this is genuinely complicated stuff. Consequently: We have made mistakes in the …

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Learning analytics: averages, actionability, granularity

The learning analytics resource we use (StREAM by Solutionpath) measures students' engagement with their course using the proxy of their electronic footprint. Whilst we can't measure what's going on in their heads, we can measure whether or not they have attended classes, logged in to the VLE, taken out a library book etc. The data …

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