Ghosts in the machine? #edcmooc

Following on from last week’s post on the #edcmooc, the course itself has turned to explore the notion of MOOCs in the context of utopian/dystopian views of technology and education. The questions I raised in the post are still running through my mind. However they were at a much more holistic than personal level.

This week, I’ve been really trying to think about things from my student (or learner) point of view. Are MOOCs really changing the way I engage with formal education systems? On the one hand yes, as they are allowing me (and thousands of others) to get a taste of courses from well established institutions. At a very surface level who doesn’t want to say they’ve studied at MIT/Stanford/Edinburgh? As I said last week, there’s no fee so less pressure in one sense to explore new areas and if they don’t suit you, there’s no issue in dropping out – well not for the student at this stage anyway. Perhaps in the future, through various analytical methods, serial drop outs will be recognised by “the system” and not be allowed to join courses, or have to start paying to be allowed in.

But on the other hand, is what I’m actually doing really different than what I did at school and when I was an undergraduate or was a student on “traditional’ on line, distance courses. Well no, not really. I’m reading selected papers and articles, watching videos, contributing to discussion forums – nothing I’ve not done before, or presented to me in a way that I’ve not seen before. The “go to class” button on the Coursera site does make me giggle tho’ as it’s just soo American and every time I see it I hear a disembodied American voice. But I digress.

The element of peer review for the final assignment for #edcmooc is something I’ve not done as a student, but it’s not a new concept to me. Despite more information on the site and from the team this week I’m still not sure how this will actually work, and if I’ll get my certificate of completion for just posting something online or if there is a minimum number of reviews I need to get. Like many other fellow students the final assessment is something we have been concerned about from day 1, which seemed to come as a surprise to some of the course team. During the end of week 1 google hang out, the team did try to reassure people, but surely they must have expected that we were going to go look at week 5 and “final assessment” almost before anything else? Students are very pragmatic, if there’s an assessment we want to know as soon as possible the where,when, what, why, who,how, as soon as possible. That’s how we’ve been trained (and I use that word very deliberately). Like thousands of others, my whole education career from primary school onwards centred around final grades and exams – so I want to know as much as I can so I know what to do so I can pass and get that certificate.

That overriding response to any kind of assessment can very easily over-ride any of the other softer (but just as worthy) reasons for participation and over-ride the potential of social media to connect and share on an unprecedented level.

As I’ve been reading and watching more dystopian than utopian material, and observing the general MOOC debate taking another turn with the pulling of the Georgia Tech course, I’ve been thinking a lot of the whole experimental nature of MOOCs. We are all just part of a huge experiment just now, students and course teams alike. But we’re not putting very many new elements into the mix, and our pre-determined behaviours are driving our activity. We are in a sense all just ghosts in the machine. When we do try and do something different then participation can drop dramatically. I know that I, and lots of my fellow students on #oldsmooc have struggled to actually complete project based activities.

The community element of MOOCs can be fascinating, and the use of social network analysis can help to give some insights into activity, patterns of behaviour and connections. But with so many people on a course is it really possible to make and sustain meaningful connections? From a selfish point of view, having my blog picked up by the #edcmooc news feed has greatly increased my readership and more importantly I’m getting comments which is more meaningful to me than hits. I’ve tried read other posts too, but in the first week it was really difficult to keep up, so I’ve fallen back to a very pragmatic, reciprocal approach. But with so much going on you need to have strategies to cope, and there is quite a bit of activity around developing a MOOC survival kit which has come from fellow students.

As the course develops the initial euphoria and social web activity may well be slowing down. Looking at the twitter activity it does look like it is on a downwards trend.

#edcmooc Twitter activity diagram
#edcmooc Twitter activity diagram

Monitoring this level of activity is still a challenge for the course team and students alike. This morning my colleague Martin Hawskey and I were talking about this, and speculating that maybe there are valuable lessons we in the education sector can learn from the commercial sector about managing “massive” online campaigns. Martin has also done a huge amount of work aggregating data and I’d recommend looking at his blogs. This post is a good starting point.

Listening to the google hang out session run by the #edcmooc team they again seemed to have under estimated the time sink reality of having 41,000 students in a course. Despite being upfront about not being everywhere, the temptation to look must be overwhelming. This was also echoed in the first couple of weeks of #oldsmooc. Interestingly this week there are teaching assistants and students from the MSc course actively involved in the #edcmooc.

I’ve also been having a play with the data from the Facebook group. I’ve had a bit of interaction there, but not a lot. So despite it being a huge group I don’t get the impression, that apart from posting links to blogs for newsfeed, there is a lot of activity or connections. Which seems to be reflected in the graphs created from the data.

#edc Facebook group friends connections
#edc Facebook group friends connections

This is a view based on friends connections. NB it was very difficult for a data novice like me to get any meaningful view of this group, but I hope that this gives the impression of the massive number of people and relative lack of connections.

There are a few more connections which can be drawn from the interactions data, and my colleagye David Sherlock manage create a view where some clusters are emerging – but with such a huge group it is difficult to read that much into the visualisation – apart from the fact that there are lots of nodes (people).

#edcmooc Facebook group interactions
#edcmooc Facebook group interactions

I don’t think any of this is unique to #edcmooc. We’re all just learning how to design/run and participate at this level. Technology is allowing us to connect and share at a scale unimaginable even 10 years ago, if we have access to it. NB there was a very interesting comment on my blog about us all being digital slaves.

Despite the potential affordances of access at scale it seems to me we are increasingly just perpetuating an existing system if we don’t take more time to understand the context and consequences of our online connections and communities. I don’t need to connect with 40,000 people but I do want to understand more about how, why and how I could/do. That would be a really new element to add to any course, not just MOOCs (and not something that’s just left to a course specifically about analytics). Unless that happens my primary driver will be that “completion certificate”. In this instance, and many others, to get that I don’t really need to make use of the course community. So I’m just perpetuating an existing where I know how to play the game, even if it’s appearance is somewhat disguised.

Quick review of the Larnaca Learning Design Declaration

Late last month the Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design was published. Being “that time of year” I didn’t get round to blogging about it at the time. However as it’s the new year and as the OLDS mooc is starting this week, I thought it would be timely to have a quick review of the declaration.

The wordle gives a flavour of the emphasis of the text.

Wordle of Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design
Wordle of Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design

First off, it’s actually more of a descriptive paper on the development of research into learning design, rather than a set of statements declaring intent or a call for action. As such, it is quite a substantial document. Setting the context and sharing the outcomes of over 10 years worth of research is very useful and for anyone interested in this area I would say it is definitely worth taking the time to read it. And even for an “old hand” like me it was useful to recap on some of the background and core concepts. It states:

“This paper describes how ongoing work to develop a descriptive language for teaching and learning activities (often including the use of technology) is changing the way educators think about planning and facilitating educational activities. The ultimate goal of Learning Design is to convey great teaching ideas among educators in order to improve student learning.”

One of my main areas of involvement with learning design has been around interoperability, and the sharing of designs. Although the IMS Learning Design specification offered great promise of technical interoperability, there were a number of barriers to implementation of the full potential of the specification. And indeed expectations of what the spec actually did were somewhat over-inflated. Something I reflected on way back in 2009. However sharing of design practice and designs themselves has developed and this is something at CETIS we’ve tried to promote and move forward through our work in the JISC Design for Learning Programme, in particular with our mapping of designs report, the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery Programmes and in our Design bashes: 2009, 2010, 2011. I was very pleased to see the Design Bashes included in the timeline of developments in the paper.

James Dalziel and the LAMS team have continually shown how designs can be easily built, run, shared and adapted. However having one language or notation system is a still goal in the field. During the past few years tho, much of the work has been concentrated on understanding the design process and how to help teachers find effective tools (online and offline) to develop new(er) approaches to teaching practice, and share those with the wider community. Viewpoints, LDSE and the OULDI projects are all good examples of this work.

The declaration uses the analogy of the development of musical notation to explain the need and aspirations of a design language which can be used to share and reproduce ideas, or in this case lessons. Whilst still a conceptual idea, this maybe one of the closest analogies with universal understanding. Developing such a notation system, is still a challenge as the paper highlights.

The declaration also introduces a Learning Design Conceptual Map which tries to “capture the broader education landscape and how it relates to the core concepts of Learning Design“.

Learning Design Conceptual Map
Learning Design Conceptual Map

These concepts including pedagogic neutrality, pedagogic approaches/theories and methodologies, teaching lifecycle, granularity of designs, guidance and sharing. The paper puts forward these core concepts as providing the foundations of a framework for learning design which combined with the conceptual map and actual practice provides a “new synthesis for for the field of learning design” and future developments.

Components of the field of Learning Design
Components of the field of Learning Design

So what next? The link between learning analytics and learning design was highlighted at the recent UK SoLAR Flare meeting. Will having more data about interaction/networks be able to help develop design processes and ultimately improving the learning experience for students? What about the link with OERs? Content always needs context and using OERs effectively intrinsically means having effective learning designs, so maybe now is a good time for OER community to engage more with the learning design community.

The Declaration is a very useful summary of where the Learning Design community is to date, but what is always needed is more time for practising teachers to engage with these ideas to allow them to start engaging with the research community and the tools and methodologies which they have been developing. The Declaration alone cannot do this, but it might act as a stimulus for exisiting and future developments. I’d also be up for running another Design Bash if there is enough interest – let me know in the comments if you are interested.

The OLDS MOOC is a another great opportunity for future development too and I’m looking forward to engaging with it over the next few weeks.

Some other useful resources
*Learning Design Network Facebook page
*PDF version of the Declaration
*CETIS resources on curriculum and learning design
*JISC Design Studio

Institutional Readiness for Analytics – practice and policy

So far in our Analytics Series we have been setting out the background, history and context of analytics in education at fairly broad and high levels. Developing policy and getting strategic buy-in is critical for any successful project (analytics based or not), so we have tried to highlight issues which will be of use to senior management in terms of the broader context and value of analytics approaches.

Simon Buckingham Schum at the OU (a key figure in the world of learning analytics) has also just produced Learning Analytics Policy Brief for the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education. Specifically focussing on learning analytics Simon’s paper highlights a number of key issues around “the limits of computational modelling, the ethics of analytics, and the educational paradigms that learning analytics promote”, and is another welcome addition to the growing literature on learning analytics; and is a useful complementary resource to to the CETIS series. I would recommend it to anyone interested in this area.

Moving from the policy to practicalities is the focus of our next paper, Institutional Readiness for Analytics. Written by Stephen Powell (with a little bit of input from me), this paper drills down from policy level decisions to the more pragmatic issues faced by staff in institutions who want to start to make some sense of their data through analytics based techniques. It presents two short cases studies (from the University of Bolton and the Open University) outlining the different approaches each institution has taken to try and make more sense of the data they have access to and how that can begin to make an impact on key decisions around teaching, learning and administrative processes.

The OU is probably slightly “ahead of the game” in terms of data collection and provisioning and so their case study focuses more on staff development issues through their Data Wrangler Project, whereas the University of Bolton case study looks more at how they are approaching data provisioning issues. As the paper states, although the two approaches are very different “they should be considered as interrelated with each informing the work of the other in a process of experimentation leading to the development of practices and techniques that meet the needs of the organisation.”

As ever if you have thoughts or any experiences of using analytics approaches in your institution, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The paper is available for download here, and the other papers in the series from are available here.

UK SoLAR meeting feedback

Last month in collaboration with the colleagues at the OU we co-hosted the inaugural UK SoLAR Flare. A number of blogs, pictures and videos of the day are available on the SoLAR website.

This was the first meeting in the UK focusing on learning analytics and as such we had quite a broad cross section of attendees. We’ve issued a small survey to get some feedback from delegates, and many thanks to all the attendees who completed it. We had 20 responses in total and you can access collated results of the survey from here.

Overall, 100% of respondents found the day either very useful or useful, which is always a good sign, and bodes well for the beginnings of a new community of practice and future meetings

The need for staff development and a range of new skills is something that is being increasingly identified for successful analytics projects and is an underlying theme our current Analtyics Series. The role of the Data Scientist is being increasingly recognised as a key role both in the “real” world and in academia. So what roles did our attendees have? Well, we did have one data scientist, but perhaps not that surprisingly the most common role was that of Learning Technologist with 5 people. The full results were as follows:

learning technologist 5
manager 3
lecturer 3
developer 3
researcher 3
data scientist 1
other 2
(other answers; “director/agile manager” “sort of learning technologist but also training”

So a fair spread of roles which again bodes well for the development of teams with the skill needed to develop successful analytics projects.

We also asked attendees to share the main idea that they took away from the day. Below is a selection of responses.

“That people are in the early stages of discussion.”

“Learning analytics needs to reach out end-users”

“The overall idea was how many people are in the same position and that the field is in a very experimental stage. This improves the motivation to be experimental.”

“more a better understanding of the current status than a particular idea. But if I had to chose one idea it is the importance of engaging students in the process.”

“Early thoughts on how learning analytics could be used in the development of teaching staff.”

“That HE is on the cusp of something very exciting and possibly very enlightening regarding understanding the way students learn. BUT the institution as a whole needs to be commited to the process, and that meaningful analysis of the mass of potential data that is ‘out there’, is going to be critical. There is also the very important issues of ethics and who is going to do what with the data………I could go on, and on, and on…….”

Suggestions for further meetings included:

“It would be great to involve more academic teaching staff and students in future meetings.”

“I think bringing together the different stakeholders (technologists, teachers, students, data scientists, statisticians) is a great feature for this group. It is easy to break into silos and forget the real end-user. Having more students involved would be great.”

“An international project exchange. Have, say, 10 – 15 lightning talks. Then organise a poster session with posters corresponding to the lightning talks. People whose interest was drawn by one project or another will have the chance to follow up on that project for further information. Also maybe an expert panel (with people that have experience with putting learning analytics into educational practice) that can answer questions sent in beforehand by people wanting to set up a learning analytics project/activity. This can also be done Virtually”

“Would really welcome the opportunity to have a ‘hands on’ session possibly focussing upon the various dashboards that are out there.”

You can access the full results at the SoLAR website.

Analytics for Understanding Research

After a bit of exploration of the history, meanings and definitions of analytics from Adam Cooper, today our Analytics Series continues with the Analytics for Understanding Research paper (by Mark Van Harmelen).

Research and research management are key concerns for Higher Education, and indeed the wider economy. The sector needs to to ensure it is developing, managing, and sharing research capacity, capabilities, reputation and impact as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The use of analytics platforms has the potential to impact all aspects of research practice from the individual researcher in sharing and measuring their performance, to institutional management and planning of research projects, to funders in terms of decision making about funding areas.

The “Analytics for Understanding Research” paper focuses on analytics as applied to “the process of research, to research results and to the measurement of research.” The paper highlights exemplar systems, metrics and analytic techniques backed by evidence in academic research, the challenges in using them and future directions for research. It points to the need for the support and development of high quality, timely data for researchers to experiment with in terms of measuring and sharing their reputation and impact, and the wider adoption of platforms which utilise publicly available (and funded) data to inform and justify research investment.

Some key risks involved in the use of analytics to understand research highlighted in the paper are:

*Use of bibliometric indicators as the sole measure of research impact or over-reliance on metrics without any understanding of the context and nature of the research.
*Lack of understanding of analytics and advantages and disadvantages of different indicators on the part of users of those indicators. Managers and decision makers may lack the background needed to interpret existing analytics sensitively.
*The suitability of target-based assessment based on analytics is unproven. A wider assessment approach was tentatively recommended above (in most detail on page 29).
*There is a danger of one or a few vendors supplying systems that impose a particular view of analytics on research management data.

However it also points to some key opportunities including:

*Access to high-quality timely analytics may enable professionals to gauge their short-term performance, and use experimentation to discover new and novel ways to boost their impact.
*Adoption of CERIF-based CRIS across UK HE institutions and research institutes, with automatic retrieval of public data by UK Research Councils may help motivate increases in public funding of scientific and other scholarly activity; vitally important to the UK economy and national economic growth.
*Training as to the advantages, limitations and applicability of analytics may assist in the effective use of analytics its lay users, including researchers, research managers, and those responsible for policy and direction in institutions and beyond.

As ever, if you have any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

The paper is available to download here .

The papers published to date in the series are all available here.

Legal, Risk and Ethical Aspects of Analytics in Education

After some initial feedback on the CETIS Analytics Series, we’ve had a wee re-think of our publication schedule and today we launch the “Legal, Risk and Ethcial Aspects of Analytics in Education” written by David Kay (Sero Consulting), Naomi Korn and Professor Charles Oppenheim.

As all researchers are only too well aware, any practice involving data collection and reuse has inherent ethical and legal implications of which institutions must be cognisant. Most institutions have guidelines and policies in place for the collection and use of research data in place. However, the gathering of usage data primarily from internal systems, is an area where it is less commonplace for institutions to have legal and ethical guidelines in place. As with a number of developments in technology, current laws have not developed at a similar pace.

The “Legal, Risk and Ethical Aspects of Analytics in Higher Education” paper provides a concise overview of legal and ethical concerns in relation to analytics in education. It outlines a number of legal actors which impinge on analytics for education, in particular:

* Data Protection
* Confidentiality & Consent
* Freedom of Information
* Intellectual Property Rights
* Licensing for Reuse.

The paper also recommends a set of common principles which have universal application.

*Clarity; open definition of purpose, scope and boundaries, even if that is broad and in some respects extent open-ended,

*Comfort & care; consideration for both the interests and the feelings of the data subject and vigilance regarding exceptional cases,

*Choice & consent; informed individual opportunity to opt-out or opt-in,

*Consequence & complaint; recognition that there may be unforeseen consequences and therefore provision of mechanisms for redress.

Being aware of the legal and ethical implications of any activity requiring data collection is fundamental before undertaking any form of data analysis activity, and we hope this paper will be of use in helping inform and develop practice. As ever, if you have any comments/ examples please use the comments section to share them with us.

The paper is available to download here.

The papers published so far in the series are:

*Analytics, What is Changing and Why does it Matter?
*Analytics for the Whole Institution; Balancing Strategy and Tactics
*Analytics for Learning and Teaching

Analytics for Teaching and Learning

It’s all been about learning analytics for me this week. Following the SoLAR UK meeting on Monday, I’m delighted to announced that next paper in the CETIS Analytics Series, “Analytics for Teaching and Learning” launches today.

Building on from “Analytics for the Whole Institution, balancing strategy and tactics“, this paper (written by Mark Van Harmelen and David Workman) takes a more in-depth look at issues specifically related to applying analytics in teaching and learning.

The Analytics for Teaching and Learning paper examines:

” the use of analytics in education with a bias towards providing information that may help decision makers in thinking about analytics in their institutions. Our focus is pragmatic in providing a guide for this purpose: we concentrate on illustrating uses of analytics in education and on the process of adoption, including a short guide to risks associated with analytics.”

Learning analytics is an emerging field of research and holds many promises of improving engagement and learning. I’ve been following developments with interest and I hope a healthy level of scepticism and optimism. A number of VLEs (or LMSs if you’re in North America) are now shipping with built in analytics features aka dashboards. However, as I pointed out in the “Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter?” paper, there really isn’t a “magic analytics” button which will suddenly create instantly engaged students and better results. Effective use and sense making of any data requires lots of considerations. You need to think very carefully about the question(s) you want the data help you to answer and then ensure that results are shared with staff and students in ways that allow them to gain “actionable insights”. Inevitably the more data you gather, the more questions you will ask. As Adam summarised in his “how to do analytics right” post a simple start can be best. This view was echoed at discussions during the SoLAR meeting on Monday.

Starting at small scale, developing teams, sharing data in meaningful ways, developing staff/student skills and literacies are all crucial to successful analytics projects. The need for people with both data handling, interpretation and within education, pedagogic understanding is becoming more apparent. As the paper points out,

“There are a variety of success factors for analytics adoption. Many of them are more human and organisational in nature than technical. Leadership and organisational culture and skills matter a lot.”

Again if you have any thoughts/experiences to share, please feel free to leave a comment here.

The paper can be downloaded from here.

Quick links from SoLAR Flare meeting

So we lit the UK SoLAR Flare in Milton Keynes yesterday, and I think it is going to burn brightly for some time. This post is just a quick round up of some links to discussions/blogs/tweets and pics produced over the day.

Overviews of the presentations and discussions were captured by some live blogging from Myles Danson (JISC Programme Manager for our Analytics Series)

and Doug (master of the live blog) Clow of the OU.

Great overview of the day – thanks guys!

And our course we have some twitter analytics thanks to our very own Martin Hawksey’s TAGs archive for #FlareUK and the obligitory network diagram of the twitter stream (click the image to see larger, interactive version)

#FlareUK hashtag user community network

Slides from the morning presentations and subsequent group discussions are available from the the SoLAR website, and videos of the morning presentations will be available from there soon too.

As a taster of the day – here’s a little video of what went on.

Analytics for the Whole Institution; Balancing Strategy and Tactics

Following on from last week’s introductory and overview briefing paper, Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter?, this week we start to publish the rest of our series, beginning with “Analytics for the Whole Institution; Balancing Strategy and Tactics” (by David Kay and Mark van Harmelen)

Institutional data collection and analysis is not new to institutions, and most Higher Education Institutions and Further Education Colleges do routinely utilise collect data for a range of purposes, and many are using Business Intelligence (BI) as part of their IT infrastructure.

This paper takes an in-depth look as some of the issues which “pose questions about how business intelligence and the science of analytics should be put to use in customer facing enterprises”.

The focus is not on specific technologies, rather on how best to act upon the potential of analytics and new ways of thinking about collecting, sharing and reusing data to enable high value gains in terms of business objectives across an organisation.

There a number of additional considerations when trying to align BI solutions with some of the newer approaches now available for applying analytics across an organisiation.  For example, it is not uncommon for there to be a disconnect between gathering data from centrally managed systems and specific teaching and learning systems such as VLEs. So at a strategic level, decisions need to be taken about overall data management, sharing and re-use e.g. what sytems hold the most useful/ valuable data? What formats is avaiable in? Who has access to the data and how can it be used to develop actional insights? To paraphrase from a presentation I gave with my colleague Adam Cooper last week “how data ready and capabile is your organisation?”, both in terms of people and systems.

As well as data considerations, policies (both internally and externally) need to be developed in terms of ethical use of data, and also in terms of developing staff and the wider organisational culture to developed data informed practices. Of course, part of the answers to these issues lie in sharing in the sharing and development of practice through organisations suchs as JISC. The paper highlights a number of examples of JISC funded projects.  

Although the paper concentrates mainly on HEIs, many of the same considerations are relevant to the Further Education colleges. Again we see this paper as a step in widening participation and identifying areas for further work. 

At an overview level the paper aims to:

*Characterise the educational data ecosystem, taking account of both institutional and individual needs
*Recognise the range of stakeholders and actors – institutions, services (including shared above-campus and contracted out), agencies, vendors
*Balance strategic policy approaches with tactical advances
*Highlight data that may or may not be collected
*Identify opportunities, issues and concerns arising

As ever we’d welcome feedback on any of the issues raised in the paper, and sharing of any experiences and thoughts in the comments.

The paper is available to download from here.

Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter?

A couple of tricky questions in that title, but hopefully some answers are are provided in a series of papers we are launching today.

The CETIS Analytics Series consists of 11 papers, written by a range of our staff (and some commissioned pieces) looking at a range of topics relevant to Analytics in education. The series is intended to provide a broad landscape of the history, context, issues and technologies of Analytics in post 16 education, and in particular the UK context.

As this diagram below illustrates, the series covers four main areas: “big issues” which consists of in depth reports on issues relating to the whole institution including ethical and legal, learning and teaching, research management; “history and context” which looks at the history and development of analytics in more generally; “practice” which looks some of the issues around implementing analytics particularly in HE institutions; and “technology” which reviews a number of technologies and tools available just now.

The Cetis Analytics Series Graphic
(click graphic to see larger image)

The series provides a background, critique and pointers to current and future developments to help managers and early adopters develop their thinking and practice around the use of analytics. As Adam Cooper highlights

“Analytics is the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data.”

We hope that the papers will help people in developing processes to not only identify actionable insights, but also how to develop processes, and more importantly, the staff/student skills and literacies, to produce measurable impacts across the range of activities undertaken in educational organisations such as universities and colleges. As Nate Silver demonstrated in the recent US election, it’s not just about having the data, it’s being able make sense of it and communicate findings effectively that makes the difference.

Given the that this is a rapidly developing field, it is impossible to cover every everything, but we hope that the papers will provide a solid basis for discussion and pointers for further work. Of course as well as the papers, we continue to report on our work and thoughts around data and analytics. For example, over the past month or so, Sharon Perry has been summarising a number of significant outputs and findings from the JISC Relationship Management Programme on her blog. Next week we co-host the inaugural UK SoLAR Flare with colleges from the OU (UK) which will provide another opportunity to help identify key areas for further research and collaboration.

We’ll be publishing the papers between now and early January, and each will have an accompanying blog post providing bit more context for each and the opportunity for feedback and discussion. Below is a list of titles with the week of its publication.

* Analytics for the Whole Institution; Balancing Strategy and Tactics (19th November)
* Analytics for Learning and Teaching (22 November)
* Analytics for Understanding Research (22 November)
* What is Analytics? Definition and Essential Characteristics (4 December)
* Legal, Risk and Ethical Aspects of Analytics in Higher Education (4 December)
* A Framework of Characteristics for Analytics (18 December)
* Institutional Readiness for Analytics (19 December)
* A Brief History of Analytics (8 January)
* The Implications of Analytics for Teaching Practice in Higher Education (8 January)
* Infrastructure and Tools for Analytics (15 January)

Today we start with an overview briefing paper which provides and overview and sets the context for the series. You can download the paper from the link below.

*Analytics, what is changing and why does it matter ? briefing paper.

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