If I find a moment, I’ll write about many of the fun and inspiring things I saw at Mozfest this weekend, but this post is about a single session I had the pleasure of hosting alongside Andrew, Doug and Simon; Learning Analytics for Good in the Age of Big Data.
We had an hour, no idea if anyone else would be interested, or what angle people would come to the session from. And given that, I think it worked out pretty well.
We had about 20 participants, and broke into four groups to talk about Learning Analytics from roughly 3 starting points (though all the discussions overlapped):
- Practical solutions to measuring learning as it happens online
- The ethical complications of tracking (even when you want to optimise for something positive – e.g. Learning)
- The research opportunities for publishing and connecting learning data
But, did anyone learn anything in our Learning Analytics session?
Well, I know for sure the answer is yes… as I personally learned things. But did anyone else?
I spoke to people later in the day who told me they learned things. Is that good enough?
As I watched the group during the session I saw conversations that bounced back and forth in a way that rarely happens without people learning something. But how does anyone else who wasn’t there know if our session had an impact?
How much did people learn?
This is essentially the challenge of Learning Analytics. And I did give this some thought before the session…
As a meta-exercise, everyone who attended the session had a question to answer at the start and end. We also gave them a place to write their email address and to link their ‘learning data’ to them in an identifiable way. It was a little bit silly, but it was something to think about.
This isn’t good science, but it tells a story. And I hope it was a useful cue for the people joining the session.
- We had about 20 participants
- 10 returned the survey (i.e. opted in to ‘tracking’), by answering question 1
- 5 of those answered question 2
- 5 gave their email address (not exactly the same 5 who answered both questions)
Here is our Learning Analytics data from our session
Is that demonstrable impact?
Even though this wasn’t a serious exercise. I think we can confidently argue that some people did learn, in much the same way certain newspapers can make a headline out of two data points…
What, and how much they learned, and if it will be useful later in their life is another matter.
Even with the deliberate choice of question which was almost impossible to not show improvement from start to end of the session, one respondent claims to be less sure what the session was about after attending (but let’s not dwell on that!).
Post-it notes and scribbles
If you were at the session, and want to jog your memory about what we talked about. I kind-of documented the various things we captured on paper.
I’m looking forward to exploring Learning Analytics in the context of Webmaker much more in 2015.
And to think that this was just one hour in a weekend full of the kinds of conversations that repeat in your mind all the way until next Mozfest. It’s exhausting in the best possible way.