Guiding educational change in Europe

Learning analytics make use of educational data, particularly data generated online, to improve learning and teaching. In the Institute of Educational Technology (IET), we have used data since our foundation in 1970 to support the hundreds of thousands of students at The Open University. As a result of these decades of experience, we have always been at the forefront of learning analytics research. The LAEP project is a study we carried out for the European Commision, which examined the Implications and Opportunities of Learning Analytics for European Educational Policy. The studydocumented evidence on the implementation of learning analytics for education and training in order to understand their implications and opportunities for European educational policy. The intention was to inform, guide and inspire practitioners, researchers and policy makers at all levels in the implementation of learning analytics.

Evidence shows that the use of learning analytics to improve, and to innovate, learning and teaching in Europe is still in its infancy. High expectations, for example that ‘through learning analytics, new and more learner-centred teaching methods can emerge’ have not yet been realised. Early adopters are already taking a lead in research and development but the evidence on practice and successful implementation is still scarce. Furthermore, even though work across Europe in this area is potentially promising, it is currently fragmented.

This underlines the need for a careful build-up of research and experimentation with both practice and policies that should have a unified European vision. The study suggests that work is needed to make links between learning analytics, the beliefs and values that underpin the area, and European priority areas for education and training. A key outcome of the study is the Action List for Learning Analytics, which focuses on seven areas of activity. It outlines a set of actions for educators, researchers, developers and policymakers so that learning analytics are used to drive work in Europe’s priority areas for education and training. Strategic work needs to take place to ensure that each area is covered, that there is no duplication of effort, that teams are working on all actions and that work proceeds in parallel.

Action List for Learning Analytics

Policy Leadership and Governance practices

  • Develop common visions of learning analytics that address strategic objectives and priorities
  • Develop a roadmap for learning analytics within Europe
  • Align learning analytics work with different sectors of education Develop frameworks that enable development of analytics Assign responsibility for development of learning analytics within Europe
  • Continuously work on reaching common understanding and developing new priorities
Institutional Leadership and Governance practices
  • Create organisational structures to support use of learning analytics and help educational leaders to implement these changes
  • Develop practices that are appropriate to different contexts
  • Develop and employ ethical standards, including data protection
Collaboration and Networking
  • Identify and build on work in related areas and other countries
  • Engage stakeholders throughout the process to create learning analytics that have useful features
  • Support collaboration with commercial organisations
Teaching and Learning practices
  • Develop learning analytics that makes good use of pedagogy
  • Align analytics with assessment practices
Quality assessment and assurance practices
  • Develop a robust quality assurance process for the validity and reliability of tools
  • Develop evaluation checklists for learning analytics tools
Capacity building
  • Identify the skills required in different areas
  • Train and support researchers and developers to work in this field
  • Train and support educators to use analytics to support achievement
  • Develop technologies that enable development of analytics
  • Adapt and employ interoperability standards

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