I had a pleasure to listen to Ustream of LAK11 conference. It was cold weather there but I sat in my warm room at home. I recognized that I have always (online teacher ten years) been interested in the analytical possibilities of the learning platforms which I used in facilitating learning. I used to offer group reflections and feedback to my students all the time. And now was first conference about these topics. Doug Clow blogged almost all, never seen so perfect conference blog, thanks to him.
David Wiley grasped key questions, I appreciate it. Are we “Letting the data tail wag the theory dog” ?
- Interpretation != science?
- Confusion of science with positivism: Social scientists have “physics envy”, quantity > quality
- Educational measurement: what does he/she know? Research that is mediated by observation – can’t crack open the learner’s head … People engage in behaviours, and we take those behaviours.
- Observable behaviour online is expressed in restricted vocabulary to key presses and mouse clicks.
- Westerman’s argument: Quantitative inquiry is interpretive.
- Can we call it success, if we can predict, but we don’t understand why?
- If not positivism… then what? Hermeneutics – meaning and interpretation
- Problems with metaphor – information processing model – only works when the brain is operating like a computer. Breaks down when creativity is involved
- Reductionism – “nothing more to be said when neurophysiology has had it’s say”
Behaviour in context, social practice: How do we observe behaviour in online environments? We need
- Structural equation modeling
- Multilevel data structures
- Continuous, longitudinal measures
- Tasks nested within practice
Using Learning analytics is an ethical activity .
David said what I wanted to hear. After his presentation we heard many reports which tried to proceed in describing network (mathematical) models and many quantitative measurements. I could not follow all because I don’t know enough .. know only psychological and educational sciences. Modeling behavior is collaborative work, very challenging. Some examples here:
Xavier Ochoa is a Principal Professor at the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Guayaquil Ecuador. Learnometrics was the theme and he pondered how to proceed from empirical rugularities to mathematical models. How to understand influence, produce useful metrics? Learning repositories are not working because growth is linear, not exponential like youtube, why so?. Slides here. Data mining <analytics < research, what are the chains from one to other? Similarities and differences between LA and educational measurement, image.
Dan Suthers – Unified Framework for Multi-Level Analysis of Distributed Learning. Slides here. Interesting concepts and questions: Networked individualism? Ties, sequential analysis of interactions? How people live through processes to insight?
Second day of LAK11 conference was more practical. It was women’s day, first was men’s 🙂 . But of course there was a man as a key lecturer: Erik Duval, Attention please! Attention metadata and interaction. Program says:
Attention metadata capture how people interact with resources and with one another. We can make use of the patterns in attention metadata to help learners and teachers cope with the abundance of learning resources through recommendation techniques. By visualizing the patterns, we can make teachers and learners more aware of what they do. An important concern is openness, so that we can detect patterns across the boundaries of technical and organizational systems and ensure data portability that prevents system lock-in.
Erik Duval is a professor of computer science at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. His research focuses on management of and access to data and content. Typical applications come from the fields of technology- enhanced learning, music information retrieval, and “Science2.0.” It possible to follow so much about our living that it is dangerous. How to work for benefit of people, not to spy or control. It is an ethical question really. Awareness about one’s learning is the key. Slides here.
Caroline Haythornthwaite from University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Her theme was Learning networks, crowds and communities. A copy of the program:
Who we learn from, where and when is dramatically affected by the reach of the Internet. From learning for formal education to learning for pleasure, we now look to the web early and often for our data and knowledge needs, but also for places and spaces where we can collaborate, contribute to, and create learning and knowledge communities. This talk explores the emerging landscape of online learning with attention to the structure and dynamics of online learning networks, crowds and communities. With reference to social network informed studies of learning, the talk explores the different ways learning emerges from social interaction, how structures and motivators differ across ‘lightweight’ (crowd-based) and ‘heavyweight’ (community-based) peer productions, and where an analytics perspective can be used to follow, support or enhance learning outcomes.
Many research projects were presented about learning in social contexts. I am too tired now to continue, have already surpassed myself and need a break. It was fine to hear from many research projects which are going on in Europe and other continents. If you are interested in learner analytics, please read the program. No sense in copying more here 😉
I will write about the presentation of Rita Kop and Helene Fournier in another post. It is the only one I know as a student in Plenk2010 course.