Why read “Using Analytics at UMBC”?

I really enjoyed reading the Educase Research Bulletin, Using Analytics at UMBC (Fritz, 2013), and thought how might I get others to read it? I also thought, umm … should I be really enjoying reading an article on Learning Analytics (!!!)

Anyway, the question is, if I’ve read it (a person looking for a rationale to use Learning Analytics, who has worked a long time in UK Higher Education, and marked far too many student assignments), how might I encourage you to devote twenty precious minutes to reading it?

I’d suggest from a quality assurance perspective it mirrors many discussions in the literature. So, what is being suggested is within emerging good practice.

However, more importantly, I really enjoyed the narrative which gives a sense of discovery, and a cycle of improvement as they moved from relatively unsophisticated approaches to using it in ways they’s not originally thought about. In fact, when they started they didn’t have perfect analysis or even a prediction they could test. However, the unfolding story creates an obvious set of phases or stages, which encourages me to transfer this model to the institutions where I’d worked.

If you are not sure what to predict, a good starting point would be to see if you can replicate their findings of a positive correlation between LMS (VLE) access stats (clicks, time online etc) and end of semester / year grades

The above pilot would create tangible conversations and outcomes which you’d need to have within your institution. For instance, UMBC applied enhanced reporting (dashboard) and self-directed intervention strategies to “nudge” students to take ownership over their learning. This raised questions around ethics, the processes and policies around interventions, and the need to improve staff and curriculum development to ensure there is accurate and timely data to action?

I would also encourage you to read it as they used Learning Analytics to discover examples of effective practice, which had long term impacts on student learning and performance in other modules. I often reflected that my knowledge network around which people are using innovative TEL within the institution, was very much like an iceberg. The way knowledge was shared, I saw a fraction of what was going on in those hundreds of silos. Lots of effective and innovative practice was going on under the waterline. However, at UMBC they used Learning Analytics to open up the silos and expose the part of the iceberg under the waterline. The outcome being the possible for improving TEL practice as we more effectively share our understanding of our educational effectiveness of TEL activities. If that isn’t a great (and appropriate) usage for learning analytics (and a key reason to read the article) I’m not sure what is.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did ….

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Image – with thanks – https://andyramsden.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/53d9a-6a0120a5c713bd970c0120a5f3234f970b-pi.jpg

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