(THUNDER BAY) Contact North | Contact Nord, Ontario’s Distance Education and Training Network, recently hosted an international exchange between the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada on the future of learning analytics.
The two sessions, which took place on March 21 and 27, 2013, used Contact North | Contact Nord’s videoconference platform to connect leading practitioners of online learning, learning analytics and research together to discuss the best practices, challenges, and opportunities of learning analytics.
Learning analytics uses data generated at every stage of a student’s journey – from seeking admission, through registration, to their activities in class – to look at best practices and to deepen the understanding of what makes students successful, where they are struggling, and what works in terms of support and assistance.
The data analysis allows for intervention and customization at the level of an individual student, a program or course, a department or faculty so as to improve the experience of learners, increase learning outcomes, or pursue more effective means of teaching and learning.
“There are ethical and policy issues yet to be resolved in the use of learning analytics in many institutions,” observed Maxim Jean-Louis, President – Chief Executive Officer, Contact North | Contact Nord. “But we do have an opportunity to significantly improve the quality of the student’s experience, the relevance of the learning in which they are engaged and their ultimate success through the use of analytic tools.”
The ten participants in the virtual exchange included researchers and practitioners from the leading US network of educational colleges and universities involved with technology known as Educause (US), the University of Strathclyde (UK), SURF (a Dutch network for universities), and JISC (a UK network for universities).
Online learning is in growing demand. A 2013 Sloan Consortium report shows that demand for online learning is growing at almost 10% per annum, with total enrolment growth stable. With the continued growth in online learning, the goal of many working on learning analytics is to personalize the learning experience of students studying online and improve overall student success.