Learning Analytics

Time-to-Adoption: Four to Five Years
Learning analytics refers to the interpretation of a wide range of data produced by and gathered on behalf of students in order to assess academic progress, predict future performance, and spot potential issues. Data are collected from explicit student actions, such as completing assignments and taking exams, and from tacit actions, including online social interactions, extracurricular activities, posts on discussion forums, and other activities that are not directly assessed as part of the student’s educational progress. Analysis models that process and display the data assist teachers and school personnel in interpretation. The goal of learning analytics is to enable teachers and schools to tailor educational opportunities to each student’s level of need and ability.

At its heart, learning analytics is about measuring a wealth of information about students in a way that would allow schools to take action. While EDUCAUSE has announced a major program in partnership with the Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and others that identifies learning analytics as one of five key areas for development, it is still very early and most of the work in this area is conceptual. Learning analytics carries with it certain concerns about student privacy and profiling that will need to be addressed as the work moves forward. The potential for learning is clear, but the technology to deliver that potential is still very young.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Inquiry

  • The promise of learning analytics is that when correctly applied and interpreted, they will enable teachers to more precisely identify student learning needs and tailor instruction appropriately.
  • If used effectively, learning analytics can help surface early signals that indicate a student is struggling, allowing teachers and schools to address issues quickly.

Learning Analytics in Practice

For Further Reading

7 Things You Should Know About Analytics
(EDUCAUSE, April 2010.) This brief report explains how analytics are used for teaching, learning and assessing student progress.

Academic Analytics
(John P. Campbell and Diana G. Oblinger, Educause, October 2007.) This paper gives an overview of academic analytics and includes a guide to references and resources.

What are Learning Analytics?
(George Siemens, eLearnspace, 25 August 2010.) This article presents an overview of learning analytics and discusses how they might be applied in learning institutions.