First up, I’d like to thank Simon Buckingham-Shum for his recent post on learning analytics. Rarely do I read a blog post which not only considers an ‘entry level’ question, but also then follows through multiple steps in the analysis of the topic in the way this post did. When I read the post I had the unnerving sense that the author had already thought through every question I might have considered, and answered it before I could pause to take a breath and even form the question properly in my head. I’ve been mulling the post over for the last week, and I decided that I really needed to put his post in context alongside some of my own thoughts (even if this is, in academic terms, like parking a Bugatti Veyron ‘in context alongside’ a Toyota Corolla, but never mind).
I was fortunate this week to travel to Dunedin on the South island of New Zealand to attend the ascilite 2014 conference, and one of the notable aspects of the program for me this year was the number of papers relating to learning/learner analytics in some shape or form. While there have been papers relating to this field dating back as far as the 1999 ascilite conference, this year for me was the year that analytics really emerged as one of the dominant topics of conversation. The most encouraging thing for me though was that the analytics conversations appeared to be shifting away from the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of analytics to the ‘why’, which is where the real interest in analytics (and most other things) really lies.