From Bricks to Clicks: the potential of data and analytics in Higher Education

Philip Norton, Sarah Porter, The Higher Education Commission, Jan 22, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is a reasonably detailed view (76 page PDF) of learning analytics from a policy perspective and contains a series of recommendations pertaining to data ownership and use, ethical issues, the nature of the data collected, and implementation issues. There is similar work, including some of the same charts, in this presentation from Barbara Newland. I read in this report a push toward centralization and central ownership of data, citing "a body of work to rationalise current data collections and modernise the HESA returns process," and against open data, based on the idea that "the more marketised HE landscape is making institutions more reluctant to share data." In the response from JISC we read, "We are working with 50 UK universities to set up a national learning analytics service – this will be the first time learning analytics has been introduced on a national scale anywhere in the world." I think large centralized data stores used to manage systems are fraught with difficulties and dangers, and make it difficult for the system to adapt to changing circumstances.

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