Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference, April 29-May 2, 2012: http://lak12.sites.olt.ubc.ca
- Full Paper submission: October 16, 2011
- All other submissions: November 13, 2011
- Katy Börner, George Siemens, Barry Wellman
Challenges & Opportunities
We are experiencing an unprecedented explosion in the quantity and quality of information available not only to us, but about us. We must adapt individually, institutionally and culturally to the transition in technologies and social norms that makes this possible, and question their impacts. What are the implications of such data availability for learning and knowledge building — not only in established contexts, but also in the emerging landscape of free, open, social learning online?
Within the learning technologies research and development community, this question has catalyzed the International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference, now in its second year. Learning Analytics is concerned with the collection, analysis and reporting of data about learning in a range of contexts, including informal learning, academic institutions, and the workplace. It informs and provides input for action to support and enhance learning experiences, and the success of learners. Learning and Knowledge Analytics 2012 supports the emerging academic field by connecting the community of researchers and developers, creating and disseminating new developments and practices, studying transformations, and providing ongoing evaluation and critique of the conceptual, technical, and practice outcomes.
Educational institutions are under intense pressure to make improvements and savings, while still delivering on their mission to support learners using all possible means. The effective use of information about learners can be part of the solution to this dilemma. Analytics seeks to provide rapid, real time answers to questions such as:
- Who is at risk of failing?
- What kinds of interventions make most difference to learners?
- How am I doing compared to my peers?
- How effective is this course?
- Who are the key people in this community?
- Are there quality learning conversations in this forum?
- What is or can be different about learning and learning experiences when combined with learning analytics?
Social media, open data, web analytics, semantic web, data mining and recommendation engines may hold the answers, but they also combine to create a powerful but complex data deluge, which surpasses the ability of organizations to make sense of it. What is needed to tame this technical complexity for learners, educators and administrators?
While ‘business intelligence’ infrastructure is well established for certain kinds of performance indicator, is there an equivalent for tracking the rather more complex processes of authentic learning and knowledge sharing? Is there the risk that learning analytics will damage learning and knowledge flows by monitoring and measuring them inappropriately?
These technical, pedagogical, policy and social domains must be brought into dialogue with each other to ensure that interventions and organizational systems serve the needs of all stakeholders.