Learning analytics must be developed in collaboration with the international community – webinar examined the field of learning analytics in Finland and abroad

Learning analytics must be developed in collaboration with the international community – webinar examined the field of learning analytics in Finland and abroad

Using learning analytics attracts more interest than ever before. The data collected from the learning process is available through analytical means and can be used to support self-regulation in learning and knowledge management, for example. Learning analytics can be used to detect and solve problems in the organization of teaching and to prevent dropping out of studies. A large number of projects are under way, and joint operating models are being sought both nationally and internationally, for example, for the ethical use of data.

On May 8, the University of Helsinki, the AnalytiikkaÄly project of the University of Oulu and CSC organized a learning analytics webinar with nearly 200 participants.

The idea of the webinar was created when the doctoral candidate Joonas Pesonen from the University of Helsinki met Professor Abelardo Pardo at the Learning Analytics & Knowledge conference. Pardo is Chairman of the International Society of Learning Analytics Research. The webinar highlighted – alongside Pardo's speech – the discussion on the development of learning analytics in Finland both nationally and internationally.

Scalability for feedback through analytics

Professor Pardo, who works at the University of South Australia, spoke about supporting learning with analytical knowledge. Pardo emphasized the importance of giving personal feedback to learners.

"Learning Design and pedagogical activities should also be the starting point for the development and use of learning analytics", Pardo said.

"The way of giving learners feedback is particularly important. It is a process that aims at positive effects in learning."

Pardo illustrated his point by presenting the OnTask application, which is based on research data. It allows the teacher to provide personalized feedback on the progress of learning even for large groups of learners. In the application, the teacher combines existing data on the learners with his or her own pedagogical views and each learning situation. The feedback messages written to the learners are modified according to the data collected from the learner, making the feedback personal.

"Data driven teaching should change our current teaching practices: visualization of information alone is not enough. It is good that there are a lot of data and predictive models, but the starting point should be understanding the learning itself", Pardo said.

The state of learning analytics in Finland

The webinar also created a picture of the current state of learning analytics development and the ongoing Finnish projects.

Doctoral candidate Anni Silvola from the University of Oulu presented topical key projects in learning analytics (AnalytiikkaÄly and APOA).

"We have a lot of research in Finland when it comes to understanding learning processes and pedagogical activities", said Silvola.

"To make existing educational expertise and the latest technological solutions effectively available, we need a lot of multidisciplinary cooperation and dialogue between experts from different fields", she continued.

Internationally speaking, Finland has an excellent foundation for developing learning analytics. The study data of the different levels of education are stored in commensurate form in the national information resources entity, and a national learner number follows a learner from early childhood education to adult age.

"Compared globally, our infrastructure is exceptionally good. Next, we need to learn to take advantage of these great frameworks", said Pesonen in his closing speech.

"In terms of content, however, we are only starting out. That's why we need to actively establish international contacts and learn from work conducted elsewhere in the world, he pointed out drawing attention to the importance of international cooperation and activity."

The webinar can be viewed on YouTube.

The OnTask application is available as open source code on GitHub.

Further information

Joonas Pesonen, University of Helsinki, 0503575130
Anni Silvola, Univesity of Oulu
Kaisa Kotomäki, CSC –IT Center for Science

Picture: Adobe Stock

Published originally 11.6.2019.

More about this topic » Go to insights and news »

Nina Lundahl, Kaisa Kotomäki, Joonas Pesonen, Anni Silvola