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The Class Is in for Learning Analytics
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Re: Universities with Analytics/Data Science programs
  • 1/23/2016 11:02:05 PM
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Lyndon, I believe I mentioned some of them in my FIRST blog for AllAnalytics. There was a system error that accidentally changed my user rank from Blogger to Data Doctor.

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/17/2015 9:08:13 PM
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Thanks, Dawn, for sharing your experience. Good point on LMSs capturing data without necessarily letting the teacher use them. If I may ask, is the LMS you're using a proprietary one or is it open source?

Re: Research expertise
  • 12/17/2015 12:24:50 PM
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I wonder how much the high dropout rate is associated with the high costs of education? Could students start asking themselves through the journey whether taking on more debt is going to payoff quickly enough in the workforce? And although using "data to chase big donors" is certainly going to see an increase, will the donations be enough to subsidize the student fees? Or more likely to pay for higher administrative costs?

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/16/2015 5:51:59 PM
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@Dawn. I'm glad that the learning analytics software is helping to identify the math-challenged students. I'll note that if I ever take your class you won't need that software. I'll freely admit to being among the math-challenged.

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/16/2015 11:17:09 AM
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Not all at-risk students are "kids following their parent's dream." Particularly in online education, most students are non-traditional people who have full time jobs and families to support. Many are our veterans trying to get the skills needed to get a good job. Identifying at-risk students and customizing the support they need to stick with a course of study does help the school's revenue, but also may make a real difference in the individual student's life and the life of his/her family. For example, I teach statistics, a required course for many degrees, and each term I find a number of students who consider themselves "math challenged." These students usually don't have any skills with the software that will make it possible to do the required work in a reasonable amount of time. If I could learn this about them quickly, I can direct them to appropriate tutorials before they get seriously behind, a factor that usually ends in a drop. With learning analytics, I get a heads up about the engagement of new students - when and how long they access course materials, attempt homework, read other student's discussion posts, etc. One key indicator, for example, is how soon a student begins to read other student's discussion posts rather than when they make their own posts. Most learning management systems have been capturing this information, but before we began to focus on "learning analytics," getting access to it required custom programming and layers of permissions.

Research expertise
  • 12/16/2015 6:38:21 AM
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Having worked in higher ed, it's no surprise to me that colleges and universities move very slowly, but I do wonder why they've been slow in getting into analytics. The quantitative research expertise is there–the geekiest math people are likely in universities. It baffles me why this innate competency hasn't made higher ed a leader in analytics adoption.

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/10/2015 11:15:45 AM
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@Terry. Perhaps the rhinoceros in the classroom (elephants in rooms get enough exposure) is that tuition revenue, not quality education, rules in college. I think there is real value in working with marginal students to bring them up to new levels of productivity. You want to educate them, not just retain them. Plus, there is the question of whether those kids really want to be there or if they are just living out the fantasy of parents and their high school teachers. I've ranted on this before but too many college admins are focused on revenue (tuition and research money) and protecting their jobs, and less on driving the learning process.

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/10/2015 10:49:02 AM
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You make a very good point, Jim. Maybe these institutions are working hard to retain marginal students because they're protecting the cash flow over the medium term (two years, maybe four, depending on the school). I guess crap students are better than no students (and no future revenue).

Re: Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/7/2015 9:12:56 AM
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@Terry. Great point about people dropping out for financial reasons. My question is about how much focus should be placed on "at risk" students. Are those kids who were iffy about wanting to go to college in the first place? Are they kids who were iffy in terms of being qualified? I wonder how much effort should go into retaining those students who aren't sure they want to be there when additional resources would help the more typical students get a better education.

Data from outside the classroom
  • 12/6/2015 6:24:20 PM

I don't doubt that academic performance and students' lvels of engagements as measured by the various systems you cite can help predict potential dropouts. But anecdotally, almost all the people I know who had to bail on higher education did so because of financial reasons -- either they could no longer afford school and/or their personal situations changed (were laid off at work; had one or more kids, etc.).

Do external data points like this fit in Whitmer's modeling or algorithms?

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