Learning Analytics comes from a report about the impact of emerging technologies for practitioners in a field. That sounds like the title of a report that NTEN might produce that surveys the technology landscape and nonprofit usage and provides an overview of what technologies nonprofits should be looking at in the next 1-5 years. And, NTEN is the first stop for nonprofits to go for this type of field level of research and coverage. For those of us who also focused on training, instruction, and professional learning for nonprofits, the New Media Consortium, has been charting the landscape of emerging technologies in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry on a global scale for the past ten years.
The NMC’s annual reports that highlight emerging technologies and their impact on the education sector over the next five years include NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition and the NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition and were published this spring. The specific technologies highlighted in the reports are place along a continuum of near-term, mid-term, and far-term field adoption:
- One year or less to adoption: Cloud Computing (K-12), Mobile Learning (K-12), MOOC (Higher Ed), Tablet Computing (Higher Ed)
- Two or three years to adoption: Learning Analytics (K-12/Higher Ed), Open Content (K-12), Games and Gamification (Higher Ed)
- Four or five years to adoption: 3D Printing (K-12/Higher Ed), Remote/Virtual Labs (K-12), Wearable Technology (Higher Ed)
The report methodology models the open content technology identified in the report. To create the report, an international body of experts in education, technology, and other fields convene on a wiki to review research, practice, and significant trends. Their inquiry adds great richness to the reports which includes an overview of the technology, case studies of how early adopters are using it, and synthesis of current research. It also creates a resource called the Horizon Navigator an online, open-content database of free research on emerging technologies, is a dynamic social media platform overlying an innovative set of intelligent search tools and a comprehensive collection of resources.
Not only does the report cover emerging technologies, but they are using some of the technologies to produce and distribute the report. This report is not just your father’s PDF file!
The technology trend that caught my eye was “Learning Analytics,” which is big data applied to the field of education. Learning analytics is an emergent field of research that aspires to use data analysis to inform decisions made on every area education, from understanding student data to build better pedagogies, target at-risk students, and to assess whether programs designed have been effective and should be sustained. As a practitioner, what interests me most using the data to gain insights about student interaction with material and courseware and tracking results of training. It also has benefits to students themselves who can use the data to customize their participation in the class.
Learning analytics is not brand new and first identified in the education area in about 2008 according to this excellent primer on Learning Analytics that found by searching the Project Navigator on the topic. It is identified as mid-term adoption technology – as learning analytics continues to be an emerging field, one that is growing quickly, but is still just out of reach for most educators. It is particularly relevant to those who are using online learning environments. This year, the rise of big data was the subject of discussions across many disciplines, including the nonprofit sector. Data scientists all over the world are beginning to look at vast sets of data through analytical methods pioneered by businesses to predict consumer behaviors. The future of those who do training or teaching for professionals may be that we rely on data to make carefully calculated adjustments and suggestions to keep learners motivated as they master concepts or encounter the challenge of transferring knowledge into practice.
The report offers examples of learning anlaytics in higher education as well as a curated list of articles to get up to speed. Here’s a few that I found most informative:
- Best Practices for Big Data: Learning from the Past While Looking to the Future
- The State of Learning Analytics in 2012: A Review and Future Challenges
- Learning and Knowledge Analytics
If you design and deliver training for professional development, what technologies are impacting your practice? Have you explored or are using learning analytics?