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Interviews with experts in Learning Analytics

 

During the First International Summit in “New Metrics for Evaluation: Towards innovation in learning” held earlier this year, internationally renowned experts in the field as Rebecca Ferguson (The Open University, England), Dragan Gasevic  (University of Edinburgh, Scotland), Neil Selwyn (Monash University, Australia) and Xavier Ochoa  (Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Ecuador), were interviewed and provided their views on the challenges and opportunities provided by the use of Learning Analytics.

This article provides a summary of the major concepts and insights provided at the interviews.  Click here to access the full interviews.

Currently, data generation is becoming particularly relevant due to the growing influence of ICT in education. Learning analytics relating to the application of these large datasets (Big Data) in education systems aims to identifying and promoting the improvement of the teaching and learning processes. Rebecca Ferguson has established specific methodologies to identify relevant behaviors and processes such as the level of permanence in the courses, the success of educational practices or the level of satisfaction of the students themselves, ways of interaction between students and between students and teachers.

Despite its potentialities, Learning Analytics involve several challenges for educational systems. Not only they require to work on the technological development of tools and methodologies, but also in educational policies in an ethical way; a way that ensures the responsible use of information. To this end, it is essential the participation of all educational actors from the beginning of the process (families, teachers, educators, public and private sector, among others). This involvement permits to identify needs and capacities and increases the empowerment of all actors involved in the process. The greatest  challenge has to do with the proper and responsible use of information and its quality.From this perspective, Neil Selwyn emphasizes the importance of understanding that the Learning Analytics are initial guidelines that although allow to develop a global vision of educational systems, they also require the exchange between the different actors.

While the development of Learning Analytics is currently underway, there are interesting and successful cases including the distance education model of The Open University (England), the Course Signals (USA) model and E2Couch (England). Finally, Uruguay stands out as a model country in Latin America in terms of its potential to develop such initiatives. Currently, the work is focused in the design of a common platform between different institutions with the scope of promoting the development of Analytics for the national context.