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?
The possibilities of learning data are great, but what do you need to arrange technically in order to use learning analytics in your educational practice?
Combining data from different systems
Students do not learn in a single environment. In order to gain a good understanding of study progress, it is necessary to combine data from different systems. These include learning management systems, student information systems, and assessment systems. By combining these data and analysing them together, a more complete picture is created of the quality of the curriculum, for example, or of a student's study progress. This is often not possible now.
Developing a secure and reliable infrastructure
SURF is therefore developing a secure and reliable infrastructure for learning analytics that prioritises student privacy. By managing the data itself, the higher education sector will be able to take control of the ownership of the data and analyses. SURF and its members are investigating various scenarios: from fully centralised storage (for example by SURF) to fully decentralised storage (by the institution itself). The ability to easily link data from different systems is a prerequisite for all scenarios; exchange standards will therefore play a crucial role.
Technology foresight for learning analytics infrastructure
SURF is conducting a survey of learning analytics infrastructures and services that are currently used nationally and internationally. We are working with institutions to determine what requirements they place on an infrastructure and whether existing infrastructures meet those requirements. On the basis of the technology survey, we will assess what is necessary and possible to provide an infrastructure for Dutch institutions.
We encourage careful handling of student data and the privacy of users. We formulate guidelines for an infrastructure based on the fundamental principles of privacy, security and important public values that we apply and test in practice. This will ultimately serve as an assessment framework for institutions in talks with suppliers.
What is the current range of market and technology providers of learning analytics? Verdonck, Klooster and Associates (VKA) carried out a market and technology survey and on this basis we have formulated ambitions. Read more about the study in the report Market and technology foresight learning analytics.
All about the learning analytics experiment 2016-2017
Together with a number of institutions, SURF developed an infrastructure (in Dutch) that allows data from different sources to be linked easily and securely, and that provides insight into study progress based on analyses, for both students and instructors. SURF arranged for knowledge to be shared via the wiki (in Dutch) and for standards to be laid down. SURF carried out experiments with 12 instructors from 6 institutions and is publishing the lessons learned.
- Infographic on the design and approach (4 steps) of the learning-analytics experiment
- Read the blog with detailed explanation of the design of the learning-analytics experiment (in Dutch)
- Read the documentation about the learning-analytic experiment (in Dutch)
- Sample permission letter for the learning-analytic-experiment, made in co-operation with Arnoud Engelfriet of ITRecht (PDF, in Dutch)
Read more about Lessons learned: institutions experimenting with learning analytics