EUNIS learning analytics seminar at Aalto University

Some of our project members attended a learning analytics (LA) seminar organized by EUNIS (European University Information Systems) at Aalto University in Helsinki.  There were many interesting presentations on learning analytics from different perspectives. Here‘s a short summary of the presentations I found most relevant to me at this point.

Christa Winqvist (CIO, Aalto University Foundation) welcomed attendees to Aalto. Her message was that Aalto University wants to be a data-driven university. She considers LA as an opportunity for fact-based decision making, and that we shouldn’t be afraid of this great opportunity. Therefore she considered the current work we are doing in this domain very important.

Jelena Matic (Student Academic Experience Officer) from Nottingham Trent University introduced the work they had done with student dashboards. She was originally involved in the project as a student representative, and among other things her role was to see that student data would not be mistreated. She was also involved in testing the proposed LA solutions, and to make sure that the end product works with student needs. I’m sure this is an important reminder to us all when we consider using LA in our institutions. Some information about their student dashboard here:

Paul Bailey from Jisc, a national body that provides digital solutions for UK education and research, introduced the work they had done with learning analytics in a national initiative.

Lessons learned from LA by Paul Bailey from Jisc

Lessons learned from LA by Paul Bailey from Jisc

Paul said that LA development has been much slower than expected. One of the main lessons from his presentation was that LA implementation strategy needs to be clear, include co-creation and governance and student buy-in. Otherwise LA implementation can fail. Paul also gave an informative workshop with Gill Ferrell (EUNIS) in connecting ABC learning design model to learning analytics.

Find more about Jisc learning analytics here:

Yi-Shan Tsai (University of Edinburgh) gave a presentation on developing learning analytics policy across Europe through the recently ended SHEILA project. Also our project has had the chance to link with the SHEILA project when Maren Scheffel from OUN gave a presentation in our kick-off seminar in Tampere in September.

There are plenty of interesting LA policy content on the SHEILA project website. Find them here:

Joonas Pesonen (University of Helsinki) gave a refreshing and somewhat critical presentation of LA. He brought up the fact that research in this domain is not clear if LA supports better, self-regulation learning. He also argued that Siemen’s often used LA definition could perhaps be extended as it might not include all the necessary dimensions (see picture below).

Fundamental Questions of LA (Winne 2017)

Fundamental Questions of LA (Winne 2017)

Joonas is doing interesting work in connecting LA with self-regulated learning. He basically argued that mood, motivation or self-efficacy is not very much present in current student data, but it would be needed in order to better support students. Their approach to using diaries as self-reported process data tries to bridge this gap in LA, and to implement LA in a more holistic way.

Elsa Cardoso, from ISCTE-IUL gave a very interesting talk on how gamification techniques have been combined with learning analytics in their institution in order to design a gamified student dashboard. Gamification elements such as leaderboards, alliances, and scores were implemented in order to see how they work as motivational drivers.

Student Dashboard design by Elsa Cardoso

Student Dashboard design by Elsa Cardoso

Elsa also pointed out that an important aspect for LA development is involving students in designing the dashboard. This way we can better understand what learning analytics and gamification elements will be useful for them. She also gave a nice hand-on workshop, where we could try out how to doodle a dashboard with pen and paper based on possible student needs. Here is one paper related to their project:

Elsa plans to continue developing the combination of learning analytics and gamification in the future. If you want to know more (I know I want to!), she’ll most likely be in Trondheim for EUNIS congress in March 2019 ( Hope to meet you all there, and thank you to EUNIS for the lovely seminar!

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