Jisc have a broad definition of learning analytics. They say:
Every time a student interacts with their university – be that going to the library, logging into their virtual learning environment or submitting assessments online – they leave behind a digital footprint. Learning analytics is the process of using this data to improve learning and teaching.
Learning analytics refers to the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the progress of learners and the contexts in which learning takes place. Using the increased availability of big datasets around learner activity and digital footprints left by student activity in learning environments, learning analytics take us further than data currently available can.
HEIs are increasingly using learning analytics to augment the information available to both staff and students. Jisc are working with over 50 HEIs on learning analytics.
The benefits of learning analytics accrue at many levels as shown in this figure:
For example, learners can benefit from real-time information on their progress and automated alerts about their performance. Tutors can benefit from information on all the students taking their unit and how they are performing. Both of these benefits allow early intervention, allowing action to be taken before a more serious situation develops. This highlights two of the reasons that HEIs are using learning analytics, to improve student performance and retention. Moving from the micro level, programme leaders can view information aggregated at the programme level and the same process enables information to be used to inform decision making at department, faculty and institution levels.
Learning analytics typically uses large data sets from multiple sources. This is often presented to the user in a graphical format using visualisation software which aids comprehension of the information. This is an example of how Brightspace could display performance information to a student:
A project team has just been established to work out how BU can make best use of this new functionality in the coming 24 months. The team includes representation from IT, LLS and CEL. We are seeking more academic representation so, if this is something of interest, please contact David Biggins.
Image sources: https://councilcommunity.com/2015/05/23/learning-analytics-benefits-and-challenges-for-higher-education/ and https://www.d2l.com/topics/learning-analytics/