As learning analytics has emerged as a discipline over the last few years, several organisations have been founded with the aim of conducting research in the field as well as bringing together professionals to discus the latest developments. Some of them are listed below:
- Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR): organises the annual International Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference (now in its fifth year) and publishes the Journal of Learning Analytics.
- LINK (Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge) Research Lab: based at the University of Texas, Arlington, this group has data analytics as one of its research areas.
- ascilite: “ascilite is an incorporated not-for-profit professional association for those engaged in the educational use of technologies in tertiary education”. The 2014 ascilite conference had a full-day workshop on learning analytics, and there were several papers presented on the topic throughout the conference.
- EDUCAUSE: “EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology.” The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative conference in 2015 has learning analytics as one of its “content anchors”.
Overall I found the DALMOOC interesting, and I was certainly introduced to tools and ideas that I can use during my research project. Here is my first ever attempt a concept map for what was covered in the course:
I didn’t really engage with the social learning aspects of the course – I preferred to work through the edX platform in the traditional way. I’ve always been a bit wary and nervous of putting my work out there for my peers to assess, so that’s why I stuck with edX. As far as the structure is concerned, I did find it a little disorienting in the first week, but soon got the hang of it. I didn’t really get much out of the Hangouts – I was expecting that they were going to be a bit more interactive and allow some participation from students, rather than only having the instructors involved.
As a complete newbie to learning analytics I found the content manageable and fairly easy to understand. The exception to this was the unit on prediction modeling and behaviour detection in weeks 5 and 6. I found it all quite technical and confusing, and I didn’t complete any of the assessments during those weeks. It was nice to be exposed to it, but I don’t think it’s an area that I’ll be using in my small research project. The tools that we were introduced to in the DALMOOC were pretty easy to use, and I can see that I’ll find Tableau, Gephi and LightSide useful in my Twitter research, at least at a basic level. On a side note, it was nice to see the work of researchers at other Australian universities was mentioned during the course e.g. Shane Dawson and Lori Lockyer.
The DALMOOC has given me a taste of what’s involved in working with learning analytics, and the tools and techniques that are available. There are certainly opportunities for libraries to get involved and make use of the data that our systems produce.