Research · Editorial

Bart Rienties announced as President of SoLAR

Image of Jennie Lee Building at The Open University Campus

Congratulations to IET's Professor Bart Rienties who in March 2023 was announced as the new President of the Society for Learning Analytics Research.

The Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) is an inter-disciplinary network of leading international researchers who explore the role and impact of analytics on learning, teaching, training and development. As one of the founding members of the research society, The Open University have been a long-term supporter of SoLAR as it continues to foster the highest standards of academic research in learning analytics.

Prof Bart Rienties, Professor of Learning Analytics at The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology (IET), was formally announced as the President of SoLAR during the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference in March 2023, becoming the first person from The Open University to hold this position.

Image of Bart Rienties
Prof Rienties joined IET in 2014. Alongside his role as Professor of Learning Analytics, Prof Rienties leads the Learning Analytics and Learning Design research programme at IET.

Commenting on his selection, Bart said:

"I am so pleased that I can serve as President for the Society of Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and support Professor Maren Scheffel with implementing the strategic plan."

"As the leading organisation for learning analytics in Europe we are particularly keen to create opportunities for the diverse stakeholders in learning analytics to communicate, collaborate, debate and support the implementation and adoption of learning analytics."

“With the rise of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT we need to critically reflect how we can help and support our students and teachers, and how AI and learning analytics can help to provide personalised learning opportunities for our diverse students at The Open University."

Prof Rienties attended the 13th International Learning Analytics Conference, SoLAR's first in-person event since 2019, alongside IET's Prof Rebecca Ferguson, Professor of Learning Futures, and Prof Christothea Herodotou, Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Justice, each contributing to the conference.

Prof Rienties welcomed attendees in the conference opening, SoLAR's organising committee and program chairs. Prof Ferguson and Prof Herodotou each submitted full research papers to the conference, alongside academic colleagues. Prof Ferguson was one of the authors of a paper titled 'Towards more replicable content analysis for learning analytics', and Prof Herodotou presented a research paper titled 'Predictive Learning Analytics and University Teachers: Usage and perceptions three years post implementation'.

The conference also featured its first debate-style keynote, titled 'Predictive learning analytics do more harm than good', with Prof Herodotou participating and debating in favour of the use of predictive learning analytics in education, alongside colleagues from other universities as shown in the tweet below.

Additionally, Prof Ferguson, who is actively engaged in the society in addition to her duties as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Learning Analytics, the official publication of SoLAR, received the award of Best Senior Reviewer at the LAK 2023 conference. See the moment when Prof Ferguson was announced as the award winner below.

What's happening next in SoLAR?

SoLAR run two major events annually which provide insightful forums for all stakeholders to explore, shape and debate topics that are central to learning analytics. The Learning Analytics Summer Institute will take place in June 2023, in Singapore, with Prof Ferguson attending as a keynote speaker. The Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) conference took place in March 2023, hosted by the University of Texas, in Arlington, USA.

The society also runs a new Early-Career Researcher grant, of $10,000, to support Inclusive Learning with Learning Analytics. If you are interested, visit the SoLAR scholarship page for more information.

If you would like to find out more about SoLAR's strategic plan, access the 2021-2022 plan here. If you're interested in becoming more involved, contact SoLAR here.