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#el30 Notes Week 1

This week in the connectivist course #el30 Stephen Downes spoke to Shelly Blake-Plock, Co-Founder, President and CEO – Yet Analytics. They talked about learning, LMS, experience, users, and data and provided plenty to think about- My blogpost contains 1. My #el30 notes form the hangout, and 2. My thoughts about application and implications as an educator (and I kept them brief! My post from Week 0 is here)

Notes from the hangout:

Shelly began by introducing his company and what it does:

  • Learning analytics use data in an actual way – understand learners, improve instruction and content, manage systems for data learning. ‘data through the pipes’

…and for other programmes and machines to use the data…

  • XAPI experience api. (Tracking data) there was a big study-
  1. Supposed to track learning exp. and performance in the environment – beyond LMS – from physical world, games, outside…
  2. Early – focus on data model to help machines access the data
  3. Questions – how do you implement this data in organisations?

Interesting things about the report:

  1. Bringing together the community to write the report contributed to the IEEE standardising of xapi data. ‘shows a maturity around the data specification’
  2. Companion spec released 1yr+ ago, dealing with profiles
  • Shelly defined and discussed a ‘Learning record store’:
  1. Can understand as ‘server side abstraction’ of the xapi, provides validation of the data, not just a dropbox folder, if data doesn’t meet standards, then rejected.
  2. Stores that data – in an immutable format
    1. Activity over time- and can recreate the processes that occurred
    2. Stored in a machine readable format – can produce automated readouts

Stephen added that ‘activity data can be success data’ – (Stephen is sounding optimistic here)

Shelly agrees and explains that the type of data looked for can be limited. E.g. engagement with a video- how long watched, was it shared, posted elsewhere, rewinded?

What about data governance and privacy?

  1. Anyone who types a URL into their browser should be up to date on data governance. (boom!) <– I added that 🙂
  2. Tech like this in a learning space? –example-  Facebook’s asset is the activity stream of each user that can be turned into trend recognition for advertisers to target and make money. –can be used for good or evil.
    1. Creating a ‘Learner Profile’ – You have to as your start point: what is my appetite for, and what is the stomach of my users around privacy and data? –to do that you have to make certain trade-offs with privacy.

(that goes in bold because it could be a week-long discussion)

  • Current developments:
  1. Using an xapi profile and maps business processes to find alignment between business processes and learning processes.
  2. Stephen asks – Can you input data from different systems (e.g. uni and work)? Answer – The tech exists, it’s a question of agreement/policy. (wow and yikes) Tech requires an ‘identifier’ for the user (like an email address), so it requires the same identifier to build a profile of ‘an’ individual. This also allows for separate patterns/identities to be built.

My thoughts:

So you have to have vision and real understanding to use this data effectively. That’s my takeaway. I wonder how many learning experts in the field these people work with and target for usage. It can be useful. It could be amazing for research. As someone who once did what seemed like a million questionnaires (more like 600) to understand learning, this would be amazing. It would of course need ethical approval to be actually studied. (Do universities need ethical approval to use this stuff all the time??)

I would love it especially as my area of interest (self-efficacy – which is task-specific self-belief about capabilities) is something best measured in the moment, and the live data of usage and engagement would make an amazing study. What do you do? What do you think? How do you engage? How does influence of situation, experience, instruction, materials, situation impact and change… and what where does it take you? (any tech-savvy people want to collaborate? 😉 )

Ohh! Shelly just said that experience is the data and the way forward. I agree, and it makes my previous question/point (typed while watching) more pertinent for me. How do experts in learning and understanding in the field where we are going to develop people (choosing to use the data positively as opposed to monetising people). I’ve been on Advisory Boards in the past for ed-tech developers (and LOVED IT because I do love my tech), and they have really relished the input of someone on the ground to add a different perspective and discuss functional practicalities with real people. The invitation to use various systems that show some of the data (maybe Shelly’s company the one was behind the scenes?) have been extended, and the impediment? Managing time and allocation of energy.

In learning environments, certainly in institutionalised settings, embrace actual change in the way teaching happens very slowly. (that should raise hackles) Where is dedicated time set aside for the learning, understanding, implementation of new practices from a teaching or learning perspective? Time is short, assignments are soon, results are needed. Tracking will show… it can be an unpleasant cycle. For me, it takes a good year to un-learn and re-orient test-taking, answer-seeking students and get them to understand that hoops must be jumped because we exist in society, but that the real answers come from connection, networking, experience, and their own initiative – that is generally beyond ‘for credit’ or the scope of any syllabus or reading list. Perhaps it goes back to that appetite. If there are genuine health benefits will we eat the carrot instead of the cake? I’m sure we can use this for good.

I ask more questions than have answers, but somehow that doesn’t bother me because I’m thinking.



2 thoughts on “#el30 Notes Week 1”

  1. Pingback: Data, personal learning and learning analytics – Jenny Connected

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