What does a good grade say about a student? It can indicate that he has understood algebraic functions. Or that she has correctly applied the rules of punctuation and capitalisation. By implementing a metrics and grading based system, schools assess the skills and knowledge that they can measure, and ignore other valuable life skills that can influence students' future success. Learning analytics can change this traditional approach and help students cultivate skills beyond those deemed most important.
Learning analytics combines the patterns gleaned from large datasets with a theoretical and empirical understanding of teaching, learning and student assessment. This is achieved by using the digital footprints of students in an online learning environment.
The emergence of massive open online courses or MOOCS – characterized by open access to online courses via the web, unlimited participation, open licensing of content, reuse of resources and interactive user forums – sparked an interest in learning analytics. The massive learning scale and student groups generate vast sets of data that can be analysed to gain important insights.
What are its benefits?
Already, the General Aptitude Test (GAT), Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) offer an understanding of how well students have learned and applied basic, critical concepts of Math, language, comprehension, critical thinking and reasoning. However, students are tested on a limited number of subjects and a specific curriculum, with no scope to measure their scientific, technological or artistic abilities.
Learning analytics doesn't restrict assessment to a few choice subjects. It encompasses learners' specialist subject(s) as well as the skills they need to continue learning and developing effectively throughout their lives. Learning analytics helps students develop reasoning, reflective and networking skills, which are essential across various aspects of life.
Signalsis an example of a learning analytics program by Purdue University that uses colours to help students measure and respond to problems. A coloured display tells students if everything is going fine (green), if some concern has been detected (amber) or the issue is a high-risk one (red).
The colours are associated with advice that students can use to solve their problem. In this way, it encourages them to take ownership and responsibility for their problems, as well as reflect upon challenges to overcome them successfully.
Brightspace integrated learning platform
Last year, Singapore Management University (SMU) announced that it had successfully implemented learning technology company D2L's Brightspace integrated learning platform (used by K-12 school districts and higher education institutions) for personalized student experiences.
The platform has enabled the creation of a blended learning model and tailored learning journeys to the needs of individual students. SMU is now using it in the arena of predictive analytics to glean insights into learning behaviors in order to tweak learning strategies and improve learning outcomes.