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27.09.2019 - 4 min. Read

5 questions about eCampusOntario’s province-wide learning analytics initiative

eCampusOntario’s EdTech Sandbox is a testbed where member institutions can co-design, pilot, report on, and share their experiences with emerging digital tools and technologies. One of the technologies addressed in the forthcoming Sandbox will be learning analytics, a technology that Ontario colleges and universities have identified as being of interest. Emily Carlisle, eCampusOntario’s Digital Program Lead, sheds light on what’s planned for learning analytics in this iteration of the sandbox.

How would you describe learning analytics?

Through collection, measurement, analysis, and reporting of data, learning analytics reveal learner interactions in online educational environments. They can, for example, show whether a student watched a video or downloaded a file in an LMS. Using this data, educators, institutions, and learners have sought to encourage self-directed learning, predict performance, increase retention rates, and consider ways in which to improve teaching and learning environments.

Ultimately, grades only tell one part of the learning story, while learning analytics have the potential to broaden understandings of learner behaviours and learning environments.

Why is there an interest in learning analytics now?

eCampusOntario sent out the Educational Technology Shared Services Survey in 2018 for post-secondary professionals to consider a variety of potential shared educational technology services. Learning analytics were identified as something that most respondents were really interested in but weren’t currently deploying. The high interest from Ontario colleges and universities is what led us to focus on learning analytics in this second round of our EdTech Sandbox.

What makes eCampusOntario’s learning analytics pilot different?

Our EdTech Sandbox – the program we’re offering the pilot through – allows room for experimentation and for collaboration among institutions. Given that most respondents to our 2018 Educational Technology Shared Services Survey were interested in but not yet deploying learning analytics, we thought, why not co-design a potential solution for learning analytics with institutions? That way we’re not only able to get a better sense of what our institutions want and are equipped to do with learning analytics, but we’re also then able to design a tool accordingly.

In this round of our sandbox, we’re simply focused on co-designing the blueprint for a learning analytics tool. This approach will allow for multiple rounds of feedback during and after the design of the blueprint, to ensure that the proposed design meets institutional needs before potentially moving forward with developing the blueprinted learning analytics tool.

Another reason we are taking this route is to ensure that values of privacy, transparency and consent remain at the forefront of the project, while experimenting with what it might look like to design a learning analytics tool that is learner-facing, but still useful to educators and administrators.

What are your goals for the blueprint?

As mentioned, we’re planning to co-design the blueprint for a learning analytics tool in collaboration with representatives from our member institutions. In addition to involving an expert in learning analytics to bring the technical perspective, we want to bring to the table the voices of representatives from varied institutions and positions – including students. Through this conversation, we will build a set of requirements that the group determines necessary for a learning analytics tool. Ideally, we will then be able to send the blueprint out to a larger audience, collecting feedback on the proposed tool before possibly moving forward with its development.

Anybody participating in the co-design project will benefit from collaboration with people in different roles at different colleges and universities, while also thinking more deeply about whether and how learner-facing learning analytics can benefit learners, educators and administrators. 

What can individuals do if they want to be involved in the learning analytics pilot?

Stay tuned for a call for expressions of interest. We’ll be posting it on our website and social media, so make sure you’re following our channels.

Stay tuned to Twitter for updates.