John Whitmer, Ed.D.,
Learning Analytics and Research Director, Blackboard Inc.
It’s long been accepted that, when it comes to long-term learner success, one of the most important elements is how engaged learners are. This is a topic that I spend a lot of time thinking about and researching in my work at Blackboard, asking questions that will help us to identify behaviors and course materials that are especially effective. Through my work, I’ve found that Learning Analytics, when incorporated in your LMS, can provide a key tool to helping figure these out and put tools in the hands of people can make a difference, while there’s still time to make a difference.
When it comes to engagement, what is it that Learning Analytics can do for you?
For one thing, it can provide instructors a means to better understand where and how their teaching methods impact learner engagement and success. What course elements do the most successful learners interact with? Is this what you expected, or not? Where are learners at risk of failure spending their time? Are they ignoring some of the course materials and activities that the A+ students are working with? Why might that be? Armed with the right information, instructors can fine-tune their courses. And they can check in with students who, based on their engagement level, seem to be at risk of dropping or failing a course. Early intervention can help a student who’s floundering get back on the right path.
In order to capture the data that’s needed for analysis, Learning Analytics should ideally be closely integrated with your LMS. It’s where your students are already spending their time, and it’s where there’s a rich store of raw data that, with Learning Analytics can be turned into powerful insights that instructors can act on.