Tom Ingram most recently presented Closing the Gap: Data Analytics at the FETC Executive Summit in January, 2015.

The most recent Horizon Report (NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition) includes Learning Analytics as an important development in technology for schools within the next two to three years. Several schools have experienced improved student learning through the limited use of learning analytics (see Closing the Gap: Turning Data into Action at incorporating data from selected learning systems.

Imagine that data reflecting all of a student’s learning could be gathered and analyzed by a system designed to improve student learning. Every piece of digital content that a student consumed (read, heard, or viewed), every learning activity that a student completed (online learning objects, teacher interactions, and peer interactions), and every assessment (online objective assessments, projects scored using teacher and peer rubric scores, etc.) incorporated into a learning system designed to guide students to improved learning.

A learning system like this would be a powerful teacher tool. Good teachers have been doing this for years but assisted by a learning system like this they could do it much better. What are the standards that each individual student needs to master? What’s the most effective learning activity for each of my student’s individual learning styles? How could I organize cooperative learning activities for my students to address their individual needs and interests? Teachers could use a comprehensive learning system for all of these questions.

A critical component in personalized learning is student choice. A system like this would empower students to improve their own learning as well by suggesting a variety of content, activities, etc. targeted to meet individual student’s needs.If we had options like this, would students use them? There’s no way that all students would use options like this. However, we have started changing our classroom culture to encourage students to be responsible for their learning by using data walls for students to see their performance. We encourage our teachers to ensure that students know what they should be learning in understandable language. Choice of digital learning content would be a natural extension of the culture change we are seeking.

The use of learning analytics would also provide educational leaders with better data for planning at the system level. Today, we make these plans by analyzing summative data from the prior year and formative data from the current year. However, these limited data points do not provide the rich data that we need to support a personalized learning environment. Learning analytics could reduce or eliminate the need for separate formative assessment that frequently interrupts the learning in our classrooms.

How do we build a learning system like this?

IMS Global Learning Consortium –

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