Monthly Archives: April 2014

Learning analytics in teacher education

The rising trend of learning analytics is quite surprising. It is surprising that it is still that popular and no signs of.. subsiding. Being the PC in two the TEL-related international conferences, I can say that most of the ongoing research seems to be related with the learning analytic: general frameworks, small developments, learning analytics in higher education, at the workplace, offline and online analytics and so on. Researchers, learning designers, learning technologists, educational technologists, practitioners at school, university or workplace seems to be still interested in it. But what can I say, it is interesting and fascinating field of research.

Last time I wrote that in EMMA project we are developing the learning analytics methodology for the MOOCs. Such task is challenging, because so far our learning analytics experiences are related with the formal higher education courses and we’ve already faced that the learning practices and learning experience in MOOC is significantly different than traditional e-learning course at the small Estonian university. But the work is in the progress and as it is in the large European projects – lot of intensive discussions and negotiations.

Our local development project – web-based learning environment for teacher education eDidaktikum – is also in the phase where we have focused on learning analytics. eDidaktikum can be used as repository of the learning resources, learning environment for conducting the courses or collaboration space. But additionally the idea of the eDidaktikum supports the development of lifelong learning e-portfolio from the initial studies till the end of the professional activities. Meanwhile the role of the user just changes from the pre-service teacher to in-service teacher or teacher educator or any other. The first idea of our learning analytics framework..

.. We use the xAPI, which is a new specification that is part of the ADL Training and Learning Infrastructure. The objective, according to the Glahn (2013), of the XAPI is to express, store and exchange statements about learning experiences, which has two primary parts: a) focus on the syntax of the data format; b) the second part defines the characteristics of “learning record stores” (LRS). At the core of the xAPI are the statements about learning experience.

Learning record store (LRS) in our development is planned to be Learning Locker. Learning Locker is the closest to our needs and although they are developing it, we have managed to get the current version working. eDidaktikum sends the learning interactions in accordance with the xAPI standard to the Learning Locker. Learning Locker presents the list of the learning interactions performed during specific time. In the nearest future the Learning Locker should push the visualized data back to students’ or facilitators’ dashboards in our learning environment.

This is the technical point of view of the learning analytics in eDidaktikum. But what is the aim for implementing learning analytics? Would it be the rise of the motivation of students? To improve the course design? To prevent the fall-outs in courses? Any other? In general there are at the moment two broad aims: to analyze progress of the students with the aim to raise awareness of their learning and overview of the course design with the aim to continuously keep them updated based on the collected feedback. Additionally I’ve came to conclusion in my PhD research the knowledge accumulated in the system is acting like scaffold of teachers’ learning. Therefore, as step further, I’d like to investigate in which way the accumulated knowledge could act as part of the learning analytics by supporting teachers’ professional development.

One of the characteristics of eDidaktikum is that it supports competence-based learning. Different objects in the system and practices can be associated with the competencies from teachers’ qualification standard. Therefor the first step is to use those competencies and to provide the overview about what kind of competencies are covered by different courses in teacher education curricula based on different courses; what kind of competencies are covered in one course; which is the competency profile of the individual student and how does it evolves during the teacher education studies. The figure here illustrates the first idea how to present the competency profile of the student together with the evidences.

ed_learning_analytics

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve found myself playing with the idea that our competence-based learning and assessment has some similarities with the Open Badges (OB). Open Badge (OB) is a digital recognition of one’s achievements or status. In eDidaktikum we follow the achievements of one’s competences as well, but it is not awarded process. Typically OB is awarded by a learning provider or an employer for accomplishing tasks or attaining goals. Different authors have considered the OB to be used as a motivational mechanism – badge for accomplishing the task. More interesting seems the approach to use the OB when rewarding students for improvement instead of their performance and it can be assumed that feedback they receive through digital badges tends to influence their motivation. OB as a recognition mechanism can be used for as an additional element in current prevailing paper-based job application, validation, appraisal processes.

Lets imagine a teacher, who would like to raise the qualification and apply for the next career rank. Teacher presents instead of the paper-based CV + evidences the link to the competency-based e-portfolio and OBs in it. It enables the assessment board to immediately check the evidence and make their own judgments. But sure there are some hesitations related with the badges – who should award badges in informal learning? What does the badge actually says about the learner? And is this visual badge also needed and maybe it is enough that system visualizes how pre-service teacher have developed the competences during some period of time?

These are the first quick ideas that I’ve been playing with. This week I have two presentation about eDidaktikum in our local Estonian e-learning conference. One of my presentations is about competency-based learning and professional development portfolio and I’m quite sure that the idea of analytics is here impossible to avoid.

Reference:

Glahn, C. (2013). “Using the ADL Experience API for Mobile Learning, Sensing, Informing, Encouraging, Orchestrating.” Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Next Generation Mobile Apps, Services and Technologies (NGMAST). Prague, Czech Republic, 25-27 Sep. 2013. (CPCI)

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