I am sure you already know about ‘analytics’. This term has been creating a lot of buzz for the past few years. It’s the process of collecting data, discovering meaningful patterns from it and transforming it into fact-based insights. Application of analytics is typically perceived as an aid for marketing and business decisions. Then does it have any relevance to eLearning? Well, yes. Analytics can be used not only for businesses but in many other fields that impact our daily lives including eLearning.
So what really is learning analytics?
‘Learning Analytics and Knowledge’, defines it as, “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.” [LAK2011]
Learning analytics is the ‘in-thing’ today due to growing popularity of ‘Technology Enabled Learning’ and a constant pursuit for aligning the learning experience with learners’ needs.
How does it work for eLearning?
When learners interact with an eLearning course, they leave behind digital traces of their activities. These activities are tracked and stored through the learning platform. This data could be about learner’s clicks, time spent on various pages and various other data points that are not directly evaluated as a part of learners’ progress. This type of data can be interpreted through learning analytics.
Is it useful?
Yes it is. Learning analytics techniques can help us understand how learners learn. This in turn can help in creating a ‘learner-centric’ learning experience and environment. This whole approach is not just limited to tracking learners’ scores, but making sense of their behavior and figuring out how to improve their success. You can find out learner preferences and problems and identify the scope to improve design and delivery of eLearning using learning analytics.
Are there any challenges?
Well, along with many exciting benefits there are challenges too. For example, the incapability of learning platforms to capture learning experiences, accurately and meaningfully is one big hindrance. Another important concern is finding the exact correlation between the data patterns and learner behavior. Managing data privacy, security and associated cost is also a challenge. Learner profiling could be another one.
All in all, learning analytics holds many opportunities and challenges for both educational and corporate eLearning worlds. Instructional designers and eLearning course creators can derive meaning from complex data and take relevant actions to create more effective learning experiences, by making judicious use of learning analytics.