Using learning analytics

Learning analytics can help improve the quality of education, enhance study success and prevent study delays or drop-outs. It seems to hold great promise for education. But how can you best utilise the potential of learning analytics, and what are the benefits?

Student wordt begeleid in zijn werk

Learning analytics key concepts

Key concepts around study data and learning analytics help institutions to speak the same language.

Learning analytics

Learning analytics is the collection, analysis and reporting of data from learning environments to improve the learning process of students. This information can then be made available to students, instructors or programme management.

Learning analytics architecture

Architecture showing how the various layers within a learning analytics system - input, data storage, analysis and presentation - are connected.

Learning analytics processor

The learning analytics processor (LAP) is the software programme that organises and analyses the learning analytics data from the LRS.

Learning record store

A learning record store (LRS) is a system in which all data from the various online (learning) environments used by students are stored. Alternative name: Learning Record Warehouse

Personal data locker

A personal data locker (PDL) is a service that enables a learner (or other user) to manage, maintain, and, if desired, share their personal information with others.

Authentication and authorisation infrastructure

The infrastructure that controls access to digital systems, for example access to the digital learning environment. This access is organised by means of identification (who are you), authentication (are you who you say you are) and authorisation (what information can you see).

Enterprise service bus

An enterprise service bus (ESB) is a software programme that handles the exchange, transformation and routing of data between applications. The ESB simplifies communication between sending and receiving applications and contributes to system integration.

Higher Education Reference Architecture (HORA)

The Higher Education Reference Architecture (HORA) is a collection of instruments for designing the organisation and information management of universities of applied sciences. The HORA consists of three parts: architecture vision, reference models and implementation tools.

Identity management

Identity management (also known as user management) comprises the processes that focus on the administration and management of users of a system, including access control and access rights. Based on identity, group or role, (groups of) persons are granted access and rights in certain parts of the learning or collaboration environment.

IMS Caliper

The IMS Caliper is a standard and provides an ecosystem for recording and presenting learning activities. It includes a common language for labelling learning data and provides a standard method for measuring learning activities.

Alternative names: IMS Caliper Analytics, Caliper Framework

Integration infrastructure

An integration infrastructure is the information facility (data, processes, tools and services) that makes it possible to exchange data between applications. An integration infrastructure can allow a collection of separate systems to function as a single system. We distinguish between visual integration (does the digital learning environment look like a single entity in terms of design), data integration and system integration.


Interoperability means that different applications and IT systems connect and work together. This is very important within the digital learning environment, which combines various components (e.g. tests, communication and timetabling). Interoperability requires common standards, protocols, and procedures.

Open Education API

The Open Education API is a set of definitions that ensures that educational data from various applications are standardised and can therefore be reused in other (mobile) applications. The Open Education API is an initiative of SURF and a number of higher education institutions.

LTI: Learning Tools Interoperability

LTI is a standard for integrating tools and exchanging data. Tools are integrated within a "tool consumer", for example an LMS. An LMS can thus unambiguously expand its functionalities with the functionalities of various tools (from other providers). Data is also exchanged between the LMS and the tool to share context, for example personal data and/or course information.

SAML: Security Assertion Markup Language

SAML is an XML-based framework for communicating user authentication, rights, and attribute information. SAML enables organisations to securely disclose the identity, attributes and rights of its users to applications that users of the organisation wish to use. The applications send users who wish to log in to the organisation to verify their identity and then receive attributes of the organisation's logged-in users, such as name and e-mail address, back. Users are thus authenticated in the same way for different applications, providing a secure and uniform login method.

VOOT: Virtual Organisation Orthogonal Technology

VOOT is a protocol for exchanging group and authorisation data. Where SAML is used for authentication, VOOT can be used for authorisation. Applications that users are logged into can use the VOOT protocol to retrieve group-related information, such as the groups a user is a member of or the members of a group. This group information is typically used to determine a user's rights or for user collaboration in the provided groups.


xAPI, also known as the Experience API, is an educational technology standard that allows for the collection of data about various types of learning activities and experiences.

Alternative names: Experience API, Tin Can

For more information about this and other education standards, see the SURF standards website (in Dutch).