Learning Analytics: Are You Motivated?

My current block in the H817 Openness and Innovation in E-Learning is on learning analytics and word up, after my operation I am super behind on my readings and studies but, I did want to share a few thoughts here.

Firstly, just the term learning analytics makes me shuffle in my chair uncomfortable. I think this is a fear that I can going to be drowned in data. That data savvy and intense number people are going to bury me in terminology and programs that make my headache, and make me feel like a bit of an idiot. I think this comes from something many of us may have experienced in the past, the lost in translation discussions that happen between different groups in companies or institutions. Ask a learning designer to describe a fruit bowl and then get a data analysis to describe the same thing, you will get two very different viewpoints. So analytics probably scare me a bit – not the information itself but the extraction and delivery of that information.

Learning analytics is already in action but it is still in it’s infancy, we are seeing the tip of a possibly very large iceberg. LA will inform educators, learning, and administrators. Yet are we using them effectively? How many times do we still hear of the analytics being presented not going beyond bums on seats? Or here’s a pass rate for an assessment and here endeth the story?

Summed Up Beautifully – Data Isn’t In a Vacuum

We have the ability to collect simple data so often, even before the scary analysis experts step in, yet we don’t. Why is that? Because we don’t have the time, the confidence, we know the stakeholders don’t or won’t want to hear it, all of the above? How many of us will hold our hands up and be honest, sometimes we don’t follow the learning analytics because we have a gut feeling, a gut feeling we have grown to trust and has often served us well. Let’s be honest again, how many times do some of us say “hey the learning analytics are only going to tell us what we (I) already know, we’ll get them but just as ‘proof'”

Ahern (2019) discusses the use of data in in her blog post Compassionate Pedagogy in Practice and notes the need for motivation amongst educators to implement learning design changes based on learner data.

“…data can be collated for different purposes; automated actions (e.g. email triggers) or as data for humans (e.g. tutors or students themselves) to interpret…However, this does not mean that actionable insights will necessarily be drawn or that action will take place. Motivation is required at institutional and practitioner level to make meaningful use of the data, returning us back to our notion of compassionate pedagogy and a motivation to criticize institutional and classroom practices for the benefit of students.” Ahern (2019)

Ed Foster’s blog Living Learning Analytics Blog is a great blog to review on all things Learning Analytical and Higher Education. As he says in his About Me section ” I am not a data scientist or statistician, but a humanities graduate who has worked in an education setting. My role is not about fixing algorithms, but asking questions about how people can best use the technology to support student success.” I feel this is very reflective of many who work in education, training, learning and development whether in educational institutions, corporate or public sector training.


Ahern, S. (2019). Compassionate Pedagogy in Practice. [Blog] Digital Education Team Blog – UCL. Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/category/learning-analytics/ [Accessed 30 Jul. 2019].

Foster, E. (2019). [Blog] Living Learning Analytics Blog. Available at: https://livinglearninganalytics.blog/ [Accessed 30 Jul. 2019].

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