Introduction to Learning Analytics

Learning Analytics as both a research topic and emerging marketplace has recently garnered the attention of faculty, educational researchers and administrators, policy makers, data scientists and learning technology entrepreneurs. Unprecedented quantity of, and access to, learner-generated data has opened up new opportunities, for instance, for researchers to better understand how learners learn, for educators to assess the impact of teaching activities and interventions, and for learners to receive personalized, real-time, automated support for their learning advancements.

Learning Analytics (LA) as a field is related to disciplines such as educational data mining, machine learning, various branches of psychology, learning sciences, psychometrics, and systems theory. LA aspires to integrate cognitive, social, pedagogical, technical, and organizational components to advance a holistic view of learners and the cognitive, social, organizational contributions to their learning processes. Cross-disciplinary research, publications, and specific documented socio-technical systems and their associated designs and algorithms are important for advancing these goals.

For the past three years, the Society for Learning Analytics Research has hosted open online courses, the international LAK conference and national meetups, initiated a distributed research lab for PhD students, and established the Journal of Learning Analytics. During this timeframe, researchers from learning sciences, computer supported collaborative learning, and related disciplines have found research affinity with the emerging LA field.

Leading international universities have initiated programs and enacted strategies to use LA to improve learner success and improve organizational effeciency. Numerous schools have adopted personalization and adaptive learning systems to support learners. Corporations and startups have also turned their focus to learning analytics, resulting in numerous entrants into the LA field to promote increased learner success and more efficient learning practices.

This bricolage of research, intersecting fields of study, and corporate activity has created an exciting, albeit sometimes confusing, landscape for academics, PhD students, and the diverse users of LA products and projects.

For more information on Learning Analytics, please visit The Society of Learning Analytics Research Organisation 

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