Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Marked Benefits of Learning Analytics

I want to bring together three things I've read or heard so far in the #LAK11 course to make a point about letting students see the data we hold on them. In a miracle of joined-up thinking this post picks up the point I was making in the last paragraph of my previous post in which an Amazon in a parallel universe couldn't see the point of letting its customers see the data on their previous purchases.

The first of the three: I liked the depiction of the 'knowledge continuum in Baker (2007):
Data -- Information -- Knowledge -- Wisdom.

I'd like to get as far as wisdom but, as my last post suggests, unless there's a sudden outbreak of common sense I'll struggle to get as far as data. I want data driven decisions for improved educational outcomes but...

The second of the three: "Academic culture favours analysis over action; institutions have placed a high degree of importance on their reputations rather than on improving the academic performance of their students." (Norris, 2008). Oh, how true that is! But in an ideal world...

The third of the three: John Fritz in his Elluminate session talked about using activity analysis as a predictor of success (as opposed to an indicator of success).

All of which brings me to the thought that if we have data, and we have predictors of success, are we not ethically obliged to share those data and patterns with our students?

Here's an analogy. We all know that there was a high correlation between wearing a red shirt on Star trek and coming to a sticky end on an alien planet. Even though it was just a correlation, and there was absolutely no suggestion of causality, did the guys in the transporter room not have an obligation to share this information with the young man in question and perhaps have a few spare mustard-coloured shirts on hand just in case?

I'd like to thank my friend Keith for the pun in the title.

Edited on Sunday 6 Feb: Added link to Analytics According to Captain Kirk

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