Block 4: Activity 1 – Defining Learning Analytics

footprintPart 1 of Activity 1 involves visiting the Wikipedia page on learning analytics and noting the current and past definitions of learning analytics, and reflecting on differences and similarities.


“Learning analytics is the use of intelligent data, learner-produced data and analysis models to discover information and social connections for predicting and advising peoples learning.”

This early definition arose when George Siemens called for papers, through his ELEARNINGSPACE blog in August 2010, to answer his question…” What are Learning Analytics?”                                                   

Siemens (2010) also offered a definition from Educause’s Next Generation Learning Initiative (link no longer works from ELEARNINGSPACE blog).

“…the use of data and models to predict student progress and performance, and the ability to act on that information.”

Although this first definition started the Wikipedia page definition for activity 1 in Block 4, Siemens himself contested it.  “…Learning analytics at an advanced and integrated implementation…can do away with pre-fab curriculum models”.  Sharkey (2010) was concerned about using data to predict success and he raised the implications of differing views and levels of success.

In 2011 the definition was updated following the finding of Call for Papers of the 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK 2011) to: Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.

Educause in 2011 produced this definition about learning analytics:

Learning analytics (LA) applies the model of analytics to the specific goal of improving learning outcomes.

LA collects and analyzes the “digital breadcrumbs” that students leave as they interact with various computer systems to look for correlations between those activities and learning outcomes.    Learning analytics tools can track far more data than an instructor can alone, and at their best, LA applications can identify factors that are unexpectedly associated with student learning and course completion.

From my reading and understanding of the changes that have occurred between 2010 and 2016, using the information on the Wikimedia page and the embedded links, are in particular noted through the use of the verbs:

2010: To discover, predict and advise on people’s learning

2016: To understand and optimise learning and the environment in which is occurs.

The 2010 version focuses on discovering data about people’s learning and using this data to predict and advise others. The 2016 version is broader as it looks at learners and their contexts and tries to understand and optimise this learning and the environment in which it occurs and takes account of all stakeholders and their needs.


Part 2

Considering  Long and Siemens (2011) and Cooper (2012) I have created my initial definition of learning analytics. I have thought about how learning analytics influence my practice and how it affects change across the school.

Learning analytics is the process of collecting, analysing and developing learner generated data to affect systematic change which improves the learning environment.

This of course will be improved as I work through this block on learning analytics



Call for Papers of the 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK 2011)  (last accessed on 02 July 2016)

Cooper, A. (2012) ‘ What is analytics?, Definition and essential characteristics’ , CETIS Analytics Series, vol. 1, no. 5, Bolton, JISC CETIS; also available online at (accessed on 02 July 2016). (last accessed 02 July 2016) (last accessed 02 July 2016)

Long, P. and Siemens, G. (2011) ‘Penetrating the fog: analytics in learning and education’, Educause Review, vol.46, no. 5, pp. 31-40; also available online at (accessed 02 July 2106).

Sharkey, M., (2010) ‘Predicting ‘Success’’, Learning Analytics, 01 September [Google Groups]. Available from!msg/learninganalytics/w1eVCqT6GIc/QHLkNbPJiDYJ

Siemens, G., (2010)’ Learning about Learning’, Learning Analytics, 22 August [Google Groups]. Available from!msg/learninganalytics/HdEvcl6_2MA/sb43vonnLhsJ (last accessed 02 July 2016)

What you should know about first generation learning analytics [online] at (last accessed on 02 July 2016)


Digital Footprint at



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