Academic vs learning analytics and the point of trust

Second week in LAK12 was slightly less intense for me than the first. It might be because I didn’t attend neither of the live sessions which are, I think, emotionally the most significant activities of the course.

I was happy to receive clarifications about the difference between academic and learning analytics in comments. It helped me to further think about this domains. I kind of came to the conclusion that in a knowledge economy, with the individual having the main responsibility for developing skills and competences, while there perfectly might be learning analytics without academic analytics, the other way round would be problematic and serve only the survival of institutions.

I found it interesting to encounter the Penetrating the fog article among the course content, as I already read it some months ago. I bookmarked it then highlighting the sentence

Learning analytics can penetrate the fog of uncertainty around how to allocate resources, develop competitive advantages, and most important, improve the quality and value of the learning experience.

This time, I bookmarked it highlighting

Since we risk a return to behaviorism as a learning theory if we confine analytics to behavioral data, how can we account for more than behavioral data?

I also fully share Dr. Sharon Slades’ concern when she says

In trying to adapt and change our teaching and support models for the better, are we in danger of simply replacing one inappropriate design for another?

The other two course materials I have read this week were Bakers’ Data mining for education, and the SOLAR groups’ Open Learning Analytics: an integrated & modularized platform. The two showed useful applications of academic and learning analytics. The latter definitely clarifies the difference between the domains.

The SOLAR document outlines a very interesting approach to learning analytics based on interoperability, opennes and collaboration, in line with the free software movements’ philosophy. One thing I still miss —in this document and all the others— is the question about the ownership of the data. Again, because of the individual bearing the main responsability for the learning process, each person should have an owner attitude regarding their data and, whenever possible, the physical ownership of it. This would incentivate institutions to build the trust necessary to have individuals share their data. This kind of —disintermediated— trust is very different from the one that involves working with data from centralized web platforms, like Facebook, G+, Twitter or LMSs.

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