Architecting Organisationally for Learning Analytics

I got to know Tim McKay in Vancouver at LAK17 (watch his outstanding keynote), and then at greater length when University of Michigan hosted LASI17. As I explained to him what we are doing at UTS with CIC, and learnt more about UM’s Office of Academic Innovation and in particular, the Digital Innovation Greenhouse, it became clear I had lots to learn from Tim and the UM model. So began a conversation which I’m very pleased has crystallised in this article, as we compare and contrast where we’ve got to on the road. We hope that it’s a conversation opener.

Buckingham Shum, S.J. and McKay, T.A. (2018), Architecting for Learning Analytics: Innovating for Sustainable Impact. EDUCAUSE Review, March/April 2018, pp. 25-37. Open Access:

Abstract: In light of the significant investments that some colleges and universities are making in their analytics infrastructures, how can an institution architect itself to tackle substantial, strategically important teaching and learning challenges? How can an institution innovate learning analytics for sustainable impact?

From the article:

“Our focus here is on organizational architectures that a college or university’s leadership can consider in order to advance innovative analytics for its own mission and context. We are seeking to open a dialogue on organizational architectures and processes as a way to address educational challenges that often require systemic thinking and change. Such challenges may be faced by many colleges and universities, opening up collaboration opportunities. Moreover, if the innovation-diffusion challenges facing one institution can be taken as a microcosm for the challenges facing the learning analytics field as a whole, organization-level insights may scale to consortia or more open networks.

Surveying the current landscape, we see three broad organizational models that are being used to deliver learning analytics. These three models are largely role-aligned: (1) the IT Service Center model (primarily professional services staff); (2) the Faculty Academics model (primarily faculty researchers); and (3) the hybrid Innovation Center model (a mix of professional services staff and faculty researchers).

To what extent can these three different organizational models deliver both production-grade services and innovation with sustainable impact? We will start by discussing the two “standard” models before moving on to the much less common third model.”


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