To Master Big Data, Start Small: A Moodle Learning Analytics Talk

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Peter Dobinson is a Solutions Architect for Moodle Partner Leo Learning in the UK. Reaching a local audience, he spoke at length about their in-house approach to analytics as they inform a learning practice. A post on moodle.com provides excerpts of Dobinson’s talk at the latest MoodleMoot UK & Ireland 2017.

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Before the audience got carried away with the hype of yet another buzzword, Dobinson made sure the audience understood what the complete proposition of analytics entails. Analytics describes a process and the tools used to systematically collect, analyze, and report data for a defined goal (or a series of goals). In Moodle’s case, the goals are related to optimizing learning outcomes. This framework not only helps bring everyone to a common understanding about what analytics are and are not, but it allows us frame it in terms of a final product, which has advantages in many dimensions, such as institutional innovation or professionalization.

On that second item, Dobinson reflects the views of many thinkers regarding the need for professional approaches to quantitative methods to support learning and educational practices. Analytics must be conducted in a way that offers evidence as to what works and which practices we can feel confident in removing from classrooms. This also means that analytics data should be gathered in a standard way that makes it possible to compare across scenarios.

Leo Learning’s model to develop and deploy an analytics component to a learning intervention goes as follows:

  • Set goals (Work out what you want to do.)
  • Define rule-compliant steps (Get buy-in at all levels of the business.)
  • Gather (Get the data.)
  • Analyze and test assumptions (Measure your impact and try to disprove your hypothesis.)
  • Synthesize results (Communicate your findings.)
  • Learn (Use the findings to improve what you do.)

Read the post on Dobinson’s talk and check out the tools he recommends for Leo Learning’s Analytics Model.


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