From live web analytics to… live learning analytics!

Learning analytics written on a blackboard.We have discussed in earlier posts about personalized learning could affect students with disabilities.

A keystone need for personalized learning systems and curriculum differentiation has to do with assessment of learners’ progress. Assessment has to take under account specific factor for each student and adapt accordingly. Using technologies to assess students’ progress can have a series of benefits but most importantly it can support easier the adaptations needed for assessment for students with disabilities. Designing assessments for students with disabilities has to take under account various factors such as time, place, objectives etc. in order to be in equal terms with other peers.

Modern solutions of personalized learning presented earlier already employ a set of assessment techniques usually through online tests, quizzes and games that allow the systems to understand the learners’ progress and adapt the rest of his curriculum accordingly. Using online tests, quizzes, games etc. for assessing daily progress of students can also lead to one of the first steps for achieving what is presented in “Horizon 2011” report as learning analytics. Similar to Web analytics such as Google analytics which can capture a web-site’s users’ interactions, preferences, visits, times etc. and produce graphs that visualize the use of a web site online assessments can also be used to analyse and produce similar reports for a learner, his progress, his strengths and weaknesses etc.

Since much of the assessment and teaching material is in digital form in online courses, tests, quizzes etc. there are already existing analytics tools aimed mainly for web-site usability testing and evaluation that could also be used in the direction of gathering learning analytics data. Solutions such as Mixpanel analytics and Userfly are already used in commercial sites for usability evaluation d could also be used in learning analytics situation easily. An example of tool developed especially for learning analytics is Socrato which can generate diagnostic and performance reports for students. Loco-analyst can also provide feedback for educators on how a web-based course is used in order to improve it and ROLE is a platform that also enables students to get the feedback from their learning analytics.

Having said that, the future might change the school into a wired school model where student complete various learning activities such as following classes, working in groups for projects and problem solving, working with teachers in small groups for specialized training and teaching in subjects that are difficult for them, consult with teachers on their assessments, projects, lessons, resources etc. All this action and interaction with various devices and interfaces will be recorded and analysed so that it is easy for teachers to point out the potential problems for each kid, adapt their teaching methods and teaching material in order to improve the learning outcomes from the whole school education/learning experience. Coupled with modern profiling systems the systems itself could suggest and support decision making for teachers giving them additional information such as what kind of disability the kid has, how they should work with him to achieve the most from its education, what kind of AT tools are best suited for him etc.

Such kind of systems could become the teachers’ right hand in the future and help make learning even more fun and engaging and effective for all.

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