Learning Analytics: The New Burden of Knowledge

Last week in Galway, I introduced the recently created Irish INSIGHT Centre for Data Analytics to analytics developments as they are playing out in the education sector…

Thanks Stefan Decker and everyone else for an enjoyable visit and stimulating conversations 🙂


Data and analytics are transforming how organisations work in all sectors. While there are clearly ethical issues around big data and privacy, there may also be an argument that educational institutions have a moral obligation to use all the information they have to maximize the learner’s progress. So, assuming education can’t (arguably shouldn’t) resist this revolution, the question is how to harness this new capability intelligently. Learning Analytics is an exploding research field and startup market: do leaders know what to ask when the vendors roll up with dazzling dashboards? In this talk I’ll provide an overview of developments, and consider some of the key questions we should be asking. Like any modelling technology and accounting system, analytics are not neutral, and do not passively describe sociotechnical reality: they begin to shape it. Moreover, they start with the things that are easiest to count, which doesn’t necessarily equate to the things we value in learning. Given the crisis in education at many levels, what realities do we want analytics to perpetuate, or bring into being?

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