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Announcing a new technical report, The State of Learning Analytics in 2012: A Review and Future Challenges.

‘The State of Learning Analytics’ reviews the emergence of the field over the past decade, tracing its roots in other disciplines and setting out current trends and future lines of work. In the process, it identifies the focus of and drivers behind related types of analytic – particularly academic analytics and action analytics.

The development of the field is set out in a broadly chronological structure, which demonstrates the increasingly rapid pattern of development as new drivers emerge, new fields are appropriated and new tools developed. Tracing the development of learning analytics over time highlights a gradual shift away from a technological focus towards an educational focus, and the introduction of tools, initiatives and methods that are significant in the field today.

The report draws on two main sources. The first is the list of resources provided by the online course associated with the LAK 2012 conference. The second is the literature cited in over 70 submissions to that conference. The 20 most-cited works and the 20 most‐cited authors are all included in the report.

Ferguson, R. (2012). The State Of Learning Analytics in 2012: A Review and Future Challenges. Technical Report KMI-12-01, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK.

For these initially short placements we’re anticipating internal Open University staff as the most likely candidates, but get in touch whoever you are if this interests you…

The SocialLearn Project

The SocialLearn Project is a strategic university initiative under the “Freemium” priority, investigating the intersection of social networking, collective intelligence, adaptive platforms and web business models to connect people with resources for learning (covering informal<->formal) and sensemaking in epistemic communities (covering amateurs<->pros).

The closed beta test version of the platform will be live shortly, with public launch end of the year. The public beta signup/blog/twitter is available at


We have several short term positions available as consultancies or secondments over some/all of the period Jul-Oct, with the possibility that they may be extended. These are ideal for highly motivated staff looking to contribute and learn from one of the most exciting projects in the University.

* Research Associate (Learning and Pedagogy)
* Research Associate (Web Analytics/Recommendation Engines/Semantic Web)
* Developer (Web Analytics/Recommendation Engines/Semantic Web)

Research Associate: Learning and Pedagogy

Research associated with the Closed Beta test will address the question: ‘Is this a pedagogically sound, enjoyable and achievable model for social learning?’ Relevant data will include system analytics (including Google Analytics), questionnaires, interviews and records of participant observation. The research associate will focus on analysis of the quantitative data provided by the system analytics. More broadly, the role will include consideration of how in future this data can be selected, combined and presented in order to benefit users of the SocialLearn system. The post therefore requires experience of quantitative analysis as well as some familiarity with social networking and learning theory. It will be of particular interest to researchers who enjoy developing creative approaches to the use of system analytics.

Research Associate/Fellow and Technical Developer (Web Analytics/Recommendation Engines/Semantic Web)

These two posts are designed to build the university’s capacity in areas critical to the future of socio-semantic computing. As the platform generates vast amounts of data on user activities, interests and social networks, we will need to mine these both for business purposes, and to provide a coherent user experience through very large social and resource networks.  You will bring doctoral/postdoc level research expertise and/or technical development skills to help develop this capability, which might include the fields of data mining, social recommendation algorithms, and semantic learning technology.

Please contact Simon Buckingham-Shum or Joel Greenberg (Technical Director: j.greenberg at with a CV and cover letter to discuss consultancy, or secondment from an OU department (which will of course need to be in agreement with your manager).

Just got back from the annual 2500-strong CHI 2008 conference in Florence last week. A great piece of work presented by the IBM Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Research group reporting on the use of their Beehive social networking system (their intranet equivalent to Facebook). They thought they’d try to move from purely social media sharing a la Flickr, to promote more “knowledge sharing” by introducing a new widget called the “hive5”:

Users can create top-five lists, called “hive fives,” to share their thoughts on any topic they are passionate about. For example, they can add a “hive five” list that outlines their ideas about their project, and then invite their team members to “reuse” the list and voice their opinions. Hive fives cover a lot of territory, from clearly work-related subjects to the kinds of personal exchanges that might only happen among collocated team members at the water cooler. Hive fives are a light-weight way to share ideas and a great way to keep in touch with remote team members.

Werner Geyer, Casey Dugan, Joan DiMicco, David R. Millen, Beth Brownholtz, Michael Muller. (2008) Use and Reuse of Shared Lists as a Social Content Type. SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing system. Florence, Italy, April 5-10.

It turned out in fact that initially the hive5’s were used by people to… tell others more about themselves socially! But the more ‘serious’ kinds of lists also emerged. Beehive tracks and displays who has reused a list, providing a way to make a social connection through paying tribute to the originator of the idea, thus providing a measure of social reputation as well. A nice piece of research, and many other interesting papers by this group.

Food for thought as we develop our tools for managing and sharing personal “To Learn” lists…

April 17th, 2008FlatWorld Knowledge

David Wiley is part of a startup called FlatWorld Knowledge. Their aim is to publish textbooks free of charge online, with users paying for the printed version if they want it. But it goes beyond this and really gets at the role of the textbook in education. For a start the educator can edit the text book, so their students get the version relevant to their course. And then there are tools for working with other students around the text. People can sell content (and services I guess) also in a marketplace.

There could be some good synergy with the social, multiple tools approach of socialearn here.

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