Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learning Analytics - Imagine the Possibilities

Several years ago I ran across a phrase that intrigued me: Learning Concierge.  I wrote it on a tiny post-it and it has been stuck to my monitor for quite some time now.  It spoke to me. I think the teacher’s role is going to morph – if not happening already – into something more akin to a learning expediter, information manager, a learning concierge.  Yes, we already do that, but this is different. The student is a little more in charge. Think about what a hotel concierge does . . .  makes your experience excellent and totally worth your while. That person has access to information and resources that the average person does not. The concierge in a good hotel knows stuff that improves the customer’s (student’s) experience.

Twice now, today, I have run across the term learning analytics in respect to future trends.  Learning analytics takes the idea of a learning concierge to a whole new level.  Stay with me here – this is pretty cool. It’s like personal demographics on steroids.

Wikipedia defines analytics as
Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance. Analytics often favors data visualization to communicate insight.”

Imagine if there were a record of all the information you have researched, learned, seen, shared, created, communities you have influenced or have influenced you, essentially every keystroke – all in one place and it was analyzed for  patterns.  Imagine the patterns: thought, strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, you name it .  Imagine if schools could capture every action of every user and provide real time data on that student - prescribe learning. 

Will Richardson discusses this idea well in his blog post, Future of Learning (?).  It’s the idea of a “learning assistant.”
“As students age, data-driven, virtual “learning assistants” take on much of the job of providing resources and content based on individual interests, and needs, throughout school and beyond. As learners begin to explore topics through searches, these “assistants”, working off of a life’s worth of keystrokes, deliver the most “appropriate” content and connections within a few moments. If asked, they instantly plan a “curriculum” to learn whatever the student is interested in learning, and suggest the most relevant communities to join and experts to interact with. These virtual assistants are networked as well, easily able to find other leaners with similar interests or needs from anywhere to connect them and create spaces for collaboration and further study. Throughout the process, students earn badges of expertise and automatically publish an online, transparent portfolio of artifacts and contributions in order to earn their influence as experts.”

I am just fascinated by this possibility. Do you think this is the way education is going?

Just thinkin’
Lee Anne