Saturday, January 15, 2011

Learning/Academic Analytics - Some more reading

Last night I finally got around to reading some of the reading material for the Learning and Knowledge Analytics course that I am doing. The papers - Academic Analytics (Goldstein) and Learning Analytics (Elias).

These papers were basic introductions into the area and the use of analytics in academia. The Goldstein paper was from 2005, but gives a nice snapshot of where analytics where and possibly still now. The most important part of the paper was the introduction to the 5 stages of academic analytics (which was also covered in John Fritz's talk on Tuesday):

  • Stage 1 - Extraction and reporting
  • Stage 2 - Analysis and monitoring of operational performance
  • Stage 3 - What-if Decision Support
  • Stage 4 - Predictive modelling and simulation
  • Stage 5 - Automatic triggers 
Most organisation cluster around stages 1-3 and from John Fritz's poll during his presentation I think that most organisations are still at these stages. 

Elias asks some good questions about the technology we are using. A question about the data captured on a LMS was brought up - is it good enough or should we consider a redesigned for learning analytics. This is probably going to become even more an issue and a challenge as a learners data gets more distributed with Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). How can we capture all this data and co-relate it together for the purposes of learning analytics (this was also a question brought up by George Siemens during John Fritz's presentation). 

Two tools that I now need to go and have a look at from reading these papers is to look up CourseVis - a visualisation of web log data generated by WebCT and the Purdue University's Signals Project which gives real-time course progress in an intuitive format.

Okay with that done - I now need to start looking at what's going on in the forums!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So whats going on in Educational Data Mining

To start my Learning and Knowledge Analytics (LAK11) course I have just read through "The State of Educational Data Mining in 2009: A review and Future Visions" by Ryan Baker. The paper begins with the obvious question looking at what exactly is Educational Data Mining is. The definition describes it as an emerging discipline examining data generated from an educational setting to better understand students and the settings that they learn in.

Obviously Educational Data Mining (EDM) has a lot in common with with main stream data mining looking at prediction, clustering and relationship mining. Two items that may not be seen in main stream data mining literture is the distillation of data for human judgement and discovery with model and discovery with models. I am still not sure what this is really about but I believe it is using models such as ontologies to drive the mining strategy.

The paper outlines the key application areas of EDM:

  • Improvement of student models - differences in students, how people are learning , who is gaming the system, who is bored or frustrated
  • Improve domains knowledge structure
  • Used to validate pedagogical support - what pedagogy works and in what circumstances - get a best fit
The paper also discussed public data collections that can now be used to test EDM methods and technologies. 

The most popular papers in the area look at relationship mining but in recent years this has not been as popular. The research in vogue in EDM at the moment is prediction - representing 42% of EDM2008 papers.

This paper is a good introduction to the area. It gives good pointers to important papers in the area. It is not particularly thought provoking but I suppose its not meant to be. The next step is to start looking at some of the more important citations make n the paper.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting started with Learning and Knowledge Analytics 2010 #LAK11

Finally got started on the my new course LAK11 (Learning and Knowledge Analytics 2011) tonight. This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) run by some of my favourite e-learning researchers.

This is the first time I have decided to commit myself to a MOOC, in the past I have done a bit of lurking around Connectivism and Connective Knowledge CCK, run by Stephen Downes and George Siemens (who also one of the main guys who runs LAK11) but never really committed to it. Tonight I read the first of, I think, five readings (which I will blog about later). I found this paper interesting but I couldn't believe how easy it was to get distracted from it. When you know there is no exam, no incentive except your own will power, your will power can easily dessert you! I think I need to get more involved in the social element of the course to keep me interested and involved.

We all know that e-learning courses have a problem with retention - this is largely due to the lack of community and comadre felt by students in an e-learning course, but this is the first time I have experienced this first hand - its a lonely place. I know I need to reach out to my fellow students but where to start? I will keep you posted.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year - New Start

Its January 1st 2011 - a brand new year. This is a time to think about the year that has just gone by and the new year ahead.

So what about 2010. For many 2010 was a terrible year with natural disasters in Haiti and Pakistan and a European banking crisis. Although there was plenty of doom and gloom, especially here in Ireland where 2010 left the country effectively bankrupt, there was glimmers of hope and of human spirit conquering all. I think above all else this was found in the rescue of the Chillean miners, what a great good news story that was, one that was sorely needed by the world.

For myself, this year was a real year of change. I started the year working in a start-up company in Toronto. Unfortunately the company hit cash-flow problems and I ended the year back in Ireland. In saying that I think all things happen for a reason. I got back to Ireland and found two great jobs - one working as a analyst in an open source elearning company and the other lecturing in the National College of Ireland. I learned so much in Canada and now back in Ireland I hope to use what I have learned.

I am very hopeful for 2011 - it can only get better for Ireland economically. I think we must have hit rock bottom at this stage and now its time for us to build the country up again. Personally I have lots of goals, but thats for another post.

Just to finish up by wishing you a very Happy New Year, here's hoping for a good one!