Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
I have said this before (see illustration), that we (ought to) evaluate our learning not though the performance of specific tasks (such as answering test questions) but rather through a wider range of non-specific activities described collectively as (something like) 'performance in a social network'.

Heli Nurmi captures this bit of theory nicely in her summary of some of David Wiley's comments to the Learning Analytics conference that took place recently in Banff. She writes: "Behaviour in context, social practice. How do we observe behaviour in online environments? We need
- Structural equation modeling
- Multilevel data structures
- Continuous, longitudinal measures
- Tasks nested within practice."

From my perspective, learning analytics is an evaluative activity (Nurmi says it's an "ethical" idea, but I totally don't get her meaning here). And because it's an evaluative activity, it must not focus on specific quantifiables (like counting lines of code written, or number of posts read, which unfortunately is 90 percent of learning analytics) but in assessing a person's degree of alignment within a network.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 11:09 a.m.