When I skimmed this infographic on learning analytics (embedded below), at first glance the teacher in me felt reservations at the thought of running analytics on student learning. Running numbers on how students learn? How do you quantify something so unique to each child?
In full Ms. Doyle mode, I huffily concluded that numbers can’t measure a student’s learning in the way educators can — why would I need a computer to tell me little Sally isn’t getting the concept of transitive verbs when I can see her perplexed look on her face myself? I initially dismissed learning analytics as another offending, overly-futuristic tech tool trying to remove teachers from the education equation.
But then I started reading more about how learning analytics work and I quickly realized that learning analytics aren’t really trying to do the job of teachers, but rather could provide teachers with unbiased data that would ultimately help teachers customize students’ learning experience. In analyzing data measured by student interaction on online education platforms, learning analytics could help teachers detect performance difficulties and even detect when students are guessing versus actually knowing the answers to the questions.
The infographic predicts that learning analytics probably won’t be used for at least another two-three years as we wait for analytics technology to advance. In order for learning analytics to be successful, sites would have to collect large amounts of data on online learning, social, mobile, and even gaming platforms to provide a holistic idea of how students are learning and retaining information. Right now, the technology’s not nearly advanced enough to achieve such results. But if companies figure out a way to collect this data, the information collected could be extremely valuable in helping teachers personalize each individual student’s learning environment.
Of course, privacy is a huge concern and is of the utmost importance. How would these sites capture student data in ways that ensures a student’s privacy is completely protected? Students and parents would likely have a lot of questions about sites collecting so much information — Big Brother concerns are certainly valid. Schools would have to ensure that student data could only be collected from school-sponsored learning platforms.
Now, learning analytics obviously won’t apply in a traditional classroom setting — educators will continue to rely on their intuition to tell them if their students are truly understanding and retaining concepts and lessons. But learning analytics could potentially work wonders in online education and flipped classroom settings, which is a direction education seems to be heading. If analytics were run on work done at home on an online educational platform, the data collected could potentially prove invaluable to teachers.
Take a look at the infographic, embedded below — it explains the concept better than I could. (For those of you with bad eyes like me, here’s a link to the original — it’s a bit larger and the text is easier to read.)
Readers, what are your thoughts on learning analytics? Share your opinion in the comments below!