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.
As many of you know, I’ve been leading the NetSpot Consulting team (among others) for the last few years, of which the last two have seen a significant upheaval after our acquisition by Blackboard, which has seen a heap of structural, procedural and scope changes in how we operate. This week I sat down to look at performance planning for the team for the second half of 2014 and quickly realised that the amount of change has left us (me included) needing a hit of the reset button to refocus on what exactly it is we’re looking to achieve as what we now are – a regional team representing a range of learning technologies (both open source and proprietary) as part of a much larger organisation which is going through its own huge internal changes.
Yes, you guessed it, I ended up writing a vision statement.