Volume 16, Issue 3 - June 2012

Introduction to the Special Issue on Learning Analytics

Karen Swan, University of Illinois Springfield

We have passed from an industrial to an information age. One consequence of this move is the information overload envisioned by Vannevar Bush over a half century ago. The growth of data often seems to threaten the ability of organizations to make sense of it. However, the gargantuan amount of available data also has enabled the development of new techniques that have changed the very ways businesses are managed, doctors make diagnoses, and baseball managers recruit and coach players. Advances in knowledge modeling and representation, data mining, and analytics are creating a foundation for new models of knowledge development and analysis. Perhaps nowhere are these new models more needed than in education.

The Evolution of Big Data and Learning Analytics in American Higher Education

Anthony G. Picciano, City University of New York (CUNY)

Data-driven decision making, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s, is evolving into a vastly more sophisticated concept known as big data that relies on software approaches generally referred to as analytics. Big data and analytics for instructional applications are in their infancy and will take a few years to mature,...

Analytics that Inform the University: Using Data You Already Have

Charles Dziuban, University of Central Florida
Patsy Moskal, University of Central Florida
Thomas Cavanagh, University of Central Florida
Andre Watts, University of Central Florida

The authors describe the top-down / bottom-up action analytics approach to using data to inform decision-making at the University of Central Florida. The top-down approach utilizes information about programs, modalities, and college implementation of Web initiatives. The bottom-up approach continuously monitors outcomes attributable to distributed learning, including student ratings and...

Learning Analytics: A Case Study of the Process of Design of Visualizations

Martin Olmos, University of Wollongong
Linda Corrin, University of Wollongong

Producing a visualization from a given dataset which brings light to specific questions involves a difficult process of design. As the field of learning analytics is still in its relative infancy, a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities afforded by the creation of visualizations of complex datasets is needed...

Predictive Modeling to Forecast Student Outcomes and Drive Effective Interventions in Online Community College Courses

Vernon C. Smith, Ph.D., MyCollege Foundation
Adam Lange, Ellucian
Daniel R. Huston, M.A., Rio Salado College

Community colleges continue to experience growth in online courses. This growth reflects the need to increase the numbers of students who complete certificates or degrees. Retaining online students, not to mention assuring their success, is a challenge that must be addressed through practical institutional responses. By leveraging existing student information,...

The PAR Framework Proof of Concept: Initial Findings from a Multi-Institutional Analysis of Federated Postsecondary Data

Phil Ice, American Public University System
Sebastián Díaz, West Virginia University
Karen Swan, University of Illinois Springfield
Melissa Burgess, American Public University System
Mike Sharkey, The Apollo Group (University of Phoenix)
Jonathan Sherrill, Colorado Community College System
Dan Huston, Rio Salado Community College
Hae Okimoto, University of Hawaii System

Despite high enrollment numbers, postsecondary completion rates have generally remained unchanged for the past 30 years and half of these students do not attain a degree within six years of initial enrollment. Although online learning has provided students with a convenient alternative to face-to-face instruction, there remain significant questions regarding...

Learning Analytics Considered Harmful

Laurie P. Dringus, Nova Southeastern University

This essay is written to present a prospective stance on how learning analytics, as a core evaluative approach, must help instructors uncover the important trends and evidence of quality learner data in the online course. A critique is presented of strategic and tactical issues of learning analytics. The approach to...