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Recent blogs from IET staff

Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy

The final report on our study of learning analytics for European educational policy (LAEP) is now out.

Research Evidence on the Use of Learning Analytics: Implications for Education Policy brings together the findings of a literature review; case studies; an inventory of tools, policies and practices; and an expert workshop.

The report also provides an Action List for policymakers, practitioners, researchers and industry members to guide work in Europe.

Learning Analytics: Action List

Policy leadership and governance practices

  • Develop common visions of learning analytics that address strategic objectives and priorities
  • Develop a roadmap for learning analytics within Europe
  • Align learning analytics work with different sectors of education
  • Develop frameworks that enable the development of analytics
  • Assign responsibility for the development of learning analytics within Europe
  • Continuously work on reaching common understanding and developing new priorities

Institutional leadership and governance practices

  • Create organisational structures to support the use of learning analytics and help educational leaders to implement these changes
  • Develop practices that are appropriate to different contexts
  • Develop and employ ethical standards, including data protection

Collaboration and networking

  • Identify and build on work in related areas and other countries
  • Engage stakeholders throughout the process to create learning analytics that have useful features
  • Support collaboration with commercial organisations

Teaching and learning practices

  • Develop learning analytics that makes good use of pedagogy
  • Align analytics with assessment practices

Quality assessment and assurance practices

  • Develop a robust quality assurance process to ensure the validity and reliability of tools
  • Develop evaluation checklists for learning analytics tools

Capacity building

  • Identify the skills required in different areas
  • Train and support researchers and developers to work in this field
  • Train and support educators to use analytics to support achievement

Infrastructure

  • Develop technologies that enable development of analytics
  • Adapt and employ interoperability standards

Other resources related to the LAEP project – including the LAEP Inventory of learning analytics tools, policies and practices – are available on Cloudworks.


Tweeting in 2016

Twitter identifies my top tweet, my top mention and my top media tweet. My followers appear to be most interested in globalised online learning.


Developing a strategic approach to MOOCs

Our introductory article for the JIME special issue on MOOCs focused on the research work carried out in the area by UK universities who are FutureLearn partners.

‘Developing a strategic approach to MOOCs’ uses the work carried out at these universities to identify nine priority areas for MOOC research and how these can be developed in the future:

  1. Develop a strategic approach to MOOCs.
  2. Expand the benefits of teaching and learning in MOOCs.
  3. Offer well-designed assessment and accreditation.
  4. Widen participation and extend access.
  5. Develop and make effective use of appropriate pedagogies.
  6. Support the development of educators.
  7. Make effective use of learning design.
  8. Develop methods of quality assurance.
  9. Address issues related to privacy and ethics.

Ferguson, Rebecca; Scanlon, Eileen and Harris, Lisa (2016). Developing a strategic approach to MOOCs. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2016(1), article no. 21.

Abstract

During the last eight years, interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs) has grown fast and continuously worldwide. Universities that had never engaged with open or online learning have begun to run courses in these new environments. Millions of learners have joined these courses, many of them new to learning at this level. Amid all this learning and teaching activity, researchers have been busy investigating different aspects of this new phenomenon. In this contribution we look at one substantial body of work, publications on MOOCs that were produced at the 29 UK universities connected to the FutureLearn MOOC platform. Bringing these papers together, and considering them as a body of related work, reveals a set of nine priority areas for MOOC research and development. We suggest that these priority areas could be used to develop a strategic approach to learning at scale. We also show how the papers in this special issue align with these priority areas, forming a basis for future work.

Researching MOOCs: JIME special issue

I was one of the editors of a special issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) on Researching MOOCs. The special issue draws on the work of the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN), which is made up of academics st universities that are FutureLearn partners.

Other editors were Eileen Scanlon (The Open University) and Lisa Harris (University of Southampton).

The special issue contains five papers.

 


Dr Bektik: Duygu’s viva

On 14th December, Duygu Bektik defended her thesis successfully, and now only minor corrections stand between her and her doctorate.

Learning Analytics for Academic Writing through Automatic Identification of Meta-Discourse

When assessing student writing, tutors look for ability to present well-reasoned arguments, signalled by elements of meta-discourse. Some natural language processing systems can detect rhetorical moves in scholarly texts, but no previous work has investigated whether these tools can analyse student writing reliably. Duygu’s thesis evaluates the Xerox Incremental Parser (XIP), sets out ways in which it could be changed to support the analysis of student writing and proposes how its output could be delivered to tutors. It also investigates how tutors define the quality of undergraduate writing and identifies key elements that can be used to identify good student writing in the social sciences.

Duygu was supervised by me and by Denise Whitelock, Anna De Liddo and Simon Buckingham Shum (now at .

Her viva examiners were Paul Mulholland and Gary Wills (University of Southampton). The viva was chaired by John Richardson.


European research and innovation priorities

On 13 December, I joined a Foresight Workshop on Learning Technologies in Luxembourg. The workshop was designed to help the European Commission to set and define future European strategic research and innovation priorities.

The workshop began with a series of ‘Moonshots’. Individual experts presented ambitious, yet realistic, targets for EU-funded learning technology research and innovation up to 2025. For each of these, we considered: What is the problem? How is it dealt with now? What difference would it make if this problem were addressed successfully?

We went on to merge our individual Moonshots into Constellations and then into Galaxies. We made links between the different ideas, linking them with other international activities and trends, as well as to previous EU-funded work. I was interested to see that many of the experts from across Europe presented ideas associated with blockchain for learning, a pedagogy that was picked up in our recent Innovating Pedagogy report.

My moonshot focused on a series of problems: access to tertiary education is unequal, most people in Europe do not complete tertiary education and many people in Europe need to develop new skills. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a potential solution, but these new approaches to learning require new approaches to teaching. Teachers need training and support to work effectively in these new environments. They also need proven models of good practice. Improving educator effectiveness on these courses has the potential to increase Europe’s capacity to respond to its priority areas. It also has the potential to open up education for millions by developing and sharing knowledge of how to teach at scale.

 


‘Me Time’ at the OU H818 ‘The Networked Practitioner’ Online Conference 2017

As an MAODE alumni, I received an email invitation to attend this online conference. I was just about to delete it as I went through my regular morning email triage, but it looked interesting so I followed the link to Cloudworks. I used to use Cloudworks extensively in 2009/2010 but have fallen out of the habit.

What an interesting conference this looks to be. As an alumni and as an IET staff member, I am entitled to attend so I have registered. Browsing the presentations in Cloudworks, some look really fascinating. I found myself starting to wonder how I could integrate cloudworks and some of the cutting-edge material there into my current role orchestrating Knowledge Exchange through Evidence Cafes for police officers, partners and staff on behalf of the Centre for Policing Research and Learning. There is also an interesting looking presentation by Andy Brooks entitled How can a social network be used to increase dissemination of research. I’ve made a note to be sure to attend that one.

This only took about 15 minutes, but made me realise that of late, I have been far too deeply focused on work and only the work. I’ve stopped serendipitous browsing. I’ve stopped following up links to interesting websites sent by colleagues. I’m spending little time looking outwards and too much time focusing inwards, on getting the job done. Browsing around some of the presentations on Cloudworks did not take very long. It was intellectually stimulating and this will feed back into my current role, so I’m going to make a point of doing this again. In the current climate of cut-backs and excessive workload, it is all too easy to forget that spending some ‘me time’ following your interests. This not only helps keep you up-to-date, but can also really benefit your work by helping you think outside the box, and bring in fresh new ideas.

 

 

Stories and models

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Fri, 06/01/2017 - 13:48

I like the posts Sheila and Audrey do which are a round up of their weeks. I’m not sure I’ll do it every week but I thought I’d give it a go, and try to weave together some of the personal and professional things I’ve done this week.

I’m actually on leave this week, but have spent most of it working. This raises the whole work-life balance issue of course, but I don’t mind it. I have a generous leave allowance, and being what I suppose is called a knowledge worker, it’s often difficult to exactly allocate work. Also, if I’m honest, there are days when I am officially working, where I’m not very productive – my writing mojo is lacking, I’m distracted, or whatever. So I feel less guilty about these knowing that I worked during some of my holiday. But it is important to ensure you have some breaks where you really do switch off, and I was much stricter about that over the Christmas period than I am usually.

The two things that came up this week which meant that I had to work partly during leave were a meeting on a research project and putting together my HEA fellowship application. The first arose because the other partner was in the UK visiting parents, so we got together for a productive day. We are looking at models of online education, and in doing so the problem with models came to the fore. A model is necessarily a generalisation, and for any generalisation you can immediately think of specific examples that don’t sit well within the model. I prefer to think of it as stereotypes (in a cognitive, not social, sense). For instance, we have a stereotype of a ‘dog’ in our mind, and any particular instance of ‘dog’ is measured by its similarity to the mental stereotype we develop.

The second involved working with an OU colleague, because we have both postponed it for ages and decided to crack on with it in the New Year. It’s an interesting process as you reflect on your career and construct a narrative around it. I’m very aware that a narrative imposes order and logic to a sequence that was often haphazard and driven by chance. But we are story telling animals and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are how we construct our identity. The pitch I’ve started to make is the philosophy (which is definitely imposing more on my approach than actually exists) I’ve adopted is iterate practice and research, and to do this in the open. So, I have used teaching opportunities as chances to experiment with technology or pedagogy, and this as the basis for research, or researched application of technology and then drawn that into practice. Since the mid-2000s I’ve done this in the open as well, often through this blog. Sounds convincing enough?

I’ve watched a ton of films this week, including Argentinian rainforest Western Ardor. In this tobacco farmers are besieged by bandits burning their crops. “We’ve had this before, but not like this” one character says. “They want it all” the hero observes. That struck me as the philosophy of Trump, Putin and the rampant capitalism now – we had it before, but now they want it all. I read Carrie Fisher’s autobiography Wishful Drinking and her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge also this week. In both of these you can see Fisher using the books as a means to construct a narrative about herself that she can live with. Here she talks about being bipolar: “Imagine having a mood system that functions essentially like the weather – independently of whatever’s going on in your life”

Lastly, it was my birthday this week, and that is a time when you definitely reflect and consider the story of your life. So stories and models has been the theme of my week. McCloskey suggests that these are the two methods by which people come to understand a topic – by metaphor or narrative (or models and histories) and that different fields tend to be dominated by one mode, for instance metaphors dominate physics whilst narrative dominates biology. So I guess that’s a decent thing for someone in education to spend their week doing.

Edtechie review

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Thu, 29/12/2016 - 17:39

After books and films, here is my look back at my year of blogging. As with last year, I set out to average one blog post a week. This post makes 51, so only one short. This year also saw 10 years of blogging for Edtechie, and so still blogging at a reasonable rate is testament to how much blogging forms part of my work and social environment. And one thing that has been shown this year is that it is as vibrant a community as ever, despite all the recurring pronouncements of the death of blogging. On a couple of occasions my blog became host to what Maha Bali called a comments party. These illustrate for me the best of the academic blogging community – my initial posts weren’t particularly well crafted or thought through pieces, but they allowed for more intelligent and insightful comments.

Politics came front and centre a lot this year, sometimes in how it relates to open ed, but other times just because it dominated everything else. As I’ve already written, this is going to be a theme that will continue next year, and working out how this blog responds to the new context we find ourselves in is likely to be something I’ll be reflecting on in this post next year. One thing I came to understand this year was that I hadn’t appreciated just how right Audrey Watters had been. I mean, I didn’t disagree with her, but I don’t think I fully understood the broader social implications of Silicon Valley politics until I saw the alt-right and Trump in action. If Audrey’s Hack Education motto is be less pigeon, then next year I need to make mine Be More Audrey.

As MOOCs faded this year we saw a scrabble to find the next big ed tech thing. Pokemon Go for Education. Uber For education. Etc, etc. It became increasingly clear to me that Next Big Thingism is the attitude we need to push against in ed tech, and instead focus on improvement and experimentation (fun even).

On the positive side I met a lot of people face to face for the first time this year, and I found the following conferences engaging, thought provoking and enjoyable: OER16, OpenEd, OEGlobal, ALT-C.

But I’ll end on a non-EdTech note. My best day of the year? My daughter and I went to Chicago in February for holiday. One day we walked to the Cloud, went around the Art Institute, visited the Blackhawks shop, and then saw the Hawks beat the Leafs. Now that is a good day. Cherish them.

2016 Film review

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Thu, 22/12/2016 - 13:32

Continuing my not-edtech related end of year roundup, as well as trying to read a book a week, I tried to see a new film weekly. This was largely successful, but they weren’t all cinema trips so the film may have been delayed somewhat from release, and I didn’t get around to seeing lots of films I should have (eg Nocturnal Animals).

In general terms, like most years but even more so, this was a crap sandwich, with good stuff at the start and end, but a real mess in the middle. Even the blockbusters were exceptionally awful. Batman vs Superman, Independence Day 2, Suicide Squad – these were like Donald Trump’s toilet, flashy, expensive and full of shit. But if comic book movies continued to be devoid of any value, there were some other genres that fared quite well: horror saw some atmospheric, taut, films with secondary interpretations (The VVitch, Blackcoat’s Daughter, Don’t Breathe, Green Room). Animation began to emerge from Pixar domination, and quirky, whimsical indie movies provided blessed relief (Captain Fantastic, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sing Street).

Because I’m not adverse to an end of year list, here’s my top ten:

Hateful 8
The VVitch
The Big Short
10 Cloverfield Lane
Eye in the Sky
Son of Saul
Hell or High Water
Captain Fantastic
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Rogue One

You’ll probably have seen most of these, but the Blackcoat’s Daughter (aka February) may have passed you by. I loved it – moody, brooding horror with an amazing score, it deserves to be better known. A special mention for turkey of the year, the truly, truly, awful Zoolander 2.

Increasingly I found it difficult to watch films in isolation of the context of the rest of 2016. I couldn’t get behind the “the best of New York came together” message of Sully in a year of Trump and Black Lives Matter. I couldn’t pretend Eddie the Eagle represented a version of Britain I could identify with after Brexit. And I couldn’t watch Son of Saul and flatter myself that it could never happen now. Even Rogue One had some people rooting for the Empire. I get the feeling this will be a recurrent theme in 2017.

Books & pointless charts revisited

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Fri, 16/12/2016 - 10:06

I challenged myself to read a book a week again this year. I haven’t quite managed it, up to 48 with a couple of weeks to go. As with last year, I thought I’d generate some pointless charts (pinching Jane Bryony Rawson’s idea).

If you twisted my arm to make a list, I’d say my favourites that I’ve read this year are:

Mendeleyev’s dream – Paul Strathern
We have always lived in a castle – Shirley Jackson
Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver
Ruby – Cynthia Bond
Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner
North Water – Ian McGuire
His Bloody Project – Graeme Burnet
The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
Another Day in the Death of America – Gary Younge

I read a bit of non-fiction this year, but my range has been mostly literary fiction with a smattering of crime.:

I tend to use the Kindle for convenience, but also this year I hurt my eye at one point, so reading was difficult so listened to a couple of audio books:

An even split between male and female authors this year:

Were these books newly published (say in the last 2-3 years) or older? Mainly older, but the Booker and Bailey’s prize provided a useful way into some new fiction:

The full list is as follows:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
David Bowie’s Low – Hugh Wicken
Agatha Christie – Murder in Mesopotamia
Mendeleyev’s dream – Paul Strathern
Napoleon’s Buttons – Penny Le Couteur & Jay Burreson
Madame Curie Complex – Julie des Jardins
Strangers on a Train – Patricia Highsmith
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
The Museum Guard – Howard Norman
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
We Have Always Lived in a Castle – Shirley Jackson
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
The Code – Ross Bernstein
The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
Paradoxical Undressing – Kristin Hersh
Butterfield 8 – John O’Hara
Gwen John – Sue Roe
Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver
The Cornish Coast Mystery – John Bude
It’s All in Your Head – Suzanne O’Sullivan
Zukeina Dobson – Max Beerbohm
Night Watch – Patrick Modiano
Ruby – Cynthia Bond
Sussex Downs Murder – John Bude
Vinyl Detective – Andrew Cartmel
101 albums you should die before you hear – Everett True
The Glorious Heresies – Lisa McInerney
Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner
The Betrayal – Helen dunmore
Freakonomics – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
North Water – Ian McGuire
Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan
Gut Symmetries – Jeanette Winterson
The Many – Wyl Menmuir
A Mind to Murder – PD James
Strangers – Anita Brookner
Nancy Mitford – The Pursuit of Love
Another Day in the Death of America – Gary Younge
His Bloody Project – Graeme Burnet
The Dinner – Herman Koch
The Blue Room – Georges Simenon
The Improbability of Love – Hannah Rothschild
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing
100 Prized Poems – William Sieghart (ed)
Eileen – Otessa Moshfegh
Reading the Silver Screen – Thomas Foster

The paradoxes of open scholarship

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Tue, 13/12/2016 - 17:15


(Photo by Andrew Branch – CC0)

I was asked to do a webinar presentation on open scholarship for the ExplOERer project. I started pulling together some slides from previous presentations but when I looked at them they just seemed from a different era. Over the years I have talked about blogging, digital scholarship, open practice, etc. My take on it has become gradually more nuanced – back in the mid-2000s it was all “OMG this stuff is awesome!” But I’ve balanced that with negatives and caveats as its gone on. But it has largely remained a pro-piece.

However, in a post-truth context, in which aspects of openness have played a part, and also in which education itself is seen as part of the conspiracy, this no longer seemed appropriate. And yet, I still see all those positive aspects of open practice around me. So, instead of being pro or anti I think the way to view it is as a set of contradictions, or paradoxes. We have to get used to holding conflicting views simultaneously in our head. We have to be both a dog person AND a cat person. The presentation is below, but I think the final paradox is the key one: It has never been more risky to operate in the open and yet it has never been more vital to operate in the open.

Innovating Pedagogy 2016

Great to see this year’s Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report out. This report, which I co-author with others at The Open University, highlights ten trends that will impact education over the next decade. These include Design Thinking, Productive Failure, Formative Analytics and Translanguaging. The report also presents evidence to inform decisions about which pedagogies to adopt. The pedagogies range from ones already being tested in classrooms, such as learning through video games, to ideas for the future, like adapting blockchain technology for trading educational reputation.

This year, the report has been written in collaboration with the Learning Sciences Lab, National Institute of Education, Singapore.

The ten trends covered this year are:

  1. Learning through social media: Using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
  2. Productive failure: Drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
  3. Teachback: Learning by explaining what we have been taught
  4. Design thinking: Applying design methods in order to solve problems
  5. Learning from the crowd: Using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
  6. Learning through video games: Making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
  7. Formative analytics: Developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
  8. Learning for the future: Preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
  9. Translanguaging: Enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
  10. Blockchain for learning: Storing, validating and trading educational reputation

Policies for using Big Data

The PELARS project (Practice-based Experiential Learning Analytics Research And Support) invited me to Brussels for their Policies for using Big Data event on 9 November. The aim of the  workshop was to raise awareness about the potential of analysis of data produced by learning technologies to catalyze the effective design of adaptive teaching, learning and assessment at scale. The aim was to bring together people interested in exploring the state-of-the-art of learning analytics, as well as to be informed about opportunities and barriers for adoption.

I chaired the panel discussion at the event, and was also able to talk to participants about the LACE project, following a presentation on LACE by Hendrik Drachsler.


JISC effective learning analytics

Following my visit to Korea, it was great to see Il-Hyun Jo at the 8th UK Learning Analytics event, which was organised at The Open University by JISC.

Il-Hyun talked about the problems associated with learning analytics in a country where grades are allocated in relation to a normal distribution curve – so if one student’s grades go up, another student’s grades will go do – and where competition to enter universities is so intense that retention is not viewed as a problem.

 


MOOCs and Open Education around the World

The book MOOCS and Open Education Around the World, to which I contributed a chapter, has been very successful. Most recently, it won a DDL Distance Education Book Award. This award is presented in recognition of a print or digital book published within the last three years that describes important theoretical or practical aspects of distance education that can help others involved in distance education or those researching an important aspect of distance education. The primary focus of the book must be directly related to distance education.

AECT Division of Distance Learning (DDL) Distance Education Book Award. 2016 – First Place. MOOCs and Open Education around the World, Editors: Curtis J. Bonk, Mimi M. Lee, Thomas C. Reeves and Thomas H. Reynolds. NY: Routledge. Presented at the 2016 Conference of the Association for Educational Technology and Communications, Las Vegas.


LASI Asia

While I was in Seoul in September, I took part in the Asian Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI Asia). I was joined there by members of the LACE team, who included the event as part of the LACE tour of Asia, which also took in Japan and Korea.

During LASI Asia, I gave a talk about what is on the horizon for learning analytics. This went into more detail, and was aimed at a more specialist audience, than my talk at e-Learning Korea. I also took part in a couple of panel discussions. The first was on how to build an international community on learning analytics research, and the second was on the achievements of learning analytics research and next steps.

Abstract

There is general agreement that the importance of learning analytics is likely to increase in the coming decade. However, little guidance for policy makers has been forthcoming from the technologists, educationalists and teachers who are driving the development of learning analytics. The Visions of the Future study was carried out by the LACE project in to order to provide some perspectives that could feed into the policy process.
The study took the form of a ‘policy Delphi’, which is to say that it was not concerned with certainty about the future, but rather focused on understanding the trends issues which will be driving the field forward in the coming years. The project partners developed eight visions of the future of learning analytics in 2025. These visions were shared with invited experts and LACE contacts through an online questionnaire, and consultation with stakeholders was carried out at events. Respondents were asked to rate the visions in terms of their feasibility and desirability, and the actions which should be taken in the light of their judgements. 487 responses to visions were received from 133 people. The views of the respondents on how the future may evolve are both interesting and entertaining. More significantly, analysis of the ratings and free text responses showed that for the experts and practitioners who engaged in the study, there was a consensus around a number of points which are shaping the future of learning analytics.

1. There is a lot of enthusiasm for Learning Analytics, but concern that its potential will not be fulfilled. It is therefore appropriate for policy makers to take a role.
2. Policies and infrastructure are necessary to strengthen the rights of the data subject.
3. Interoperability specifications and open infrastructures are an essential enabling technology. These can support the rights of the data subject, and ensure control of analytics processes at the appropriate level.
4. Learning analytics should not imply automation of teaching and learning.

The full results of the study are published in a report at http://www.laceproject.eu/deliverables/d3-2-visions-of-the-future-2/.

In this session the visions explored by the LACE study will be presented, the conclusions discussed, and the audience will take part in an impromtu mapping of the most desirable and feasible vision of the future for learning analytics in Asia.


Learning analytics in Korea

I was invited to speak at e-Learning Korea 2016 in Seoul on 21-22 September. My presentation focused on the visions of the future work that I had carried out as part of the LACE project.

Abstract

Learning analytics involve the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, in order to understand and optimise learning and the environments in which it occurs. Since emerging as a distinct field in 2011, learning analytics has grown rapidly, and early adopters around the world are already developing and deploying these new tools. However, it is not enough for us to develop analytics for our educational systems as they are now – we need to take into account how teaching and learning will take place in the future. The current fast pace of change means that if, in April 2006, we had begun developing learning analytics for 2016, we might not have planned specifically for learning with and through social networks (Twitter was launched in July 2006), with smartphones (the first iPhone was released in 2007), or learning at scale (the term MOOC was coined in 2008). By thinking ahead and by consulting with experts, though, we might have come pretty close by taking into account existing work on networked learning, mobile learning and connectivism. In this talk, Rebecca will introduce a range of different scenarios that explore different ways in which learning analytics could develop in the future. She will share the results of an international Policy Delphi study, which was designed for the systematic solicitation and collation of informed judgments on visions of learning analytics in 2025. The study explored underlying assumptions and information leading to differing judgments on learning analytics, and brought together informed judgments about the field. The findings of the Policy Delphi, together with other studies, are now being used to develop action plans that will help us to develop analytics to support learners and educators in the future.


MOOCs: what the research tells us

MOOCs: What the Open University research tells us recommends priority areas for activity in relation to massive open online courses (MOOCs). It does this by bringing together all The Open University’s published research work in this area from the launch of the first MOOC in 2008 until February 2016.

The report provides brief summaries of, and links to, all publications stored in the university’s Open Research Online (ORO) repository that use the word ‘MOOC’ in their title or abstract. Full references for all studies are provided in the bibliography.

Studies are divided thematically, and the report contains sections on the pedagogy of MOOCs, MOOCs and open education, MOOC retention and motivation, working together in MOOCs, MOOC assessment, accessibility, privacy and ethics, quality and other areas of MOOC research.

The report identifies ten priority areas for future work:

  1. Influence the direction of open education globally 
  2. Develop and accredit learning journeys 
  3. Extend the relationship between learners and the university
  4. Make effective use of learning design
  5. Make use of effective distance learning pedagogies
  6. Widen participation
  7. Offer well-designed assessment 
  8. Pay attention to quality assurance 
  9. Pay attention to privacy and ethics
  10. Expand the benefits of learning from MOOCs

It’s not just a story

Professor Martin Weller's Blog - Mon, 05/12/2016 - 13:59

Since the BAD day in the US I have set up three direct debits. I didn’t plan to, they just arose (and to be frank, they’re for small amounts). They are to Hack Education (sorry Audrey, should have done it ages ago), The New York Times and Stand Up to Racism. As I said, it wasn’t part of a plan, they were individual responses to prompts, but now I look at them they all have something in common, which is that they offer a counter narrative: to the Silicon Valley technodeterminism; to Trump’s post-truth approach; to the dominant anti-migrant story in the UK.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about education’s response to all this. Bonnie Stewart argues we need to start being proactive, in a way, creating a digital literacy narrative. This is true of education itself I think. When we have populist MPs like Jacob Rees Mogg declaring that experts are similar to astrologers, there is an urgent case for education to have a strong narrative about its purpose.

Experts, soothsayers, astrologers are all in much the same category – Jacob Rees-Mogg #AutumnStatement #Newsnight https://t.co/TbCm1HV2jz

— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) November 23, 2016

This falls on all of us in education, but particularly those in positions of authority. For many years now we have seen Vice-Chancellors appointed on their ability to make universities behave like businesses, to develop radical new models of higher education. What we need now from Vice Chancellors (and Chancellors, Pro Vice Chancellors, eminent Profs, public intellectuals, etc) is an ability to articulate clearly, and with passion, the importance of higher education to society and to individuals. And not just in a return on investment, monetised manner but in terms of preserving democracy, cultural values and social cohesion. Because narrative, more than facts, is important – it used to be said that the victor writes history, but now more than ever it seems the one who writes the version of history they want, becomes the victor.

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