In this article we continue our discussion of how to get started with Open Learning Analytics. Here we discuss the communication component of the Learning Analytics Diamond (see figure 1).
This is the final installment of our Getting Started with Open Analytics article series. You can catch up on the Learning Analytics Diamond if you missed the first article. In the first article we reviewed the components of an open analytics environment as represented in the Learning Analytics Diamond diagram and discussed strategies for capturing learning events within your application. In the second article we focused on options for storing those learning events. In the third article we reviewed how learning events and supporting data can be analyzed. And finally in the most recent article we looked at actions that can be taken based on analysis of learning data. In this article we look at some of options for how learning data can be communicated to an end user.
At this point you are have made a serious investment in your Open Analytics infrastructure. You are likely capturing learning events and storing those learning events. Perhaps you are analyzing the learning event and supporting data to draw valuable conclusions and take action based on those conclusions. Your investment is paying dividends. The last piece of the puzzle is to make the data you are capturing and outcomes of the analysis you are performing available to the right users so that they can use it to gain their own insights. This what we refer to as the Communication component of the Learning Analytics Diamond and it often manifests itself in the form of reports (web-based or otherwise) and web-based dashboards.
In the context of Open Learning Analytics we'll focus on dashboards as our target medium. There is no shortage of both open source or commercial dashboard offerings available on the market. Some notable dashboard platforms include Echo360 and Acrobatiq. Many LMS vendors include dashboards in their analytics offerings. You could also choose to develop your own dashboards using a framework such as Tableau. No matter which direction you go with your dashboard solution there are some important considerations. The first consideration is how well does the dashboard application or framework integrate with the rest of your analytics and supporting technology infrastructure. A dashboard is only as good as its data sources and in the case of Open Learning Analytics those data sources are likely to be your storage, analysis, and action components. Next, is the dashboard designed to be used within a learning context. That is, does the dashboard support typical learning system entities such as courses and students and learning standards like IMS Learning Tool Interoperability? Finally, as new data or insights become available will you be able to extend and customize the dashboard easily to communicate that information to your faculty, staff, and students.
One option that has been designed with Open Learning Analytics in mind is the Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative project OpenDashboard. OpenDashboard is a web application that provides a framework for the development of reports and data visualizations. Developed in conjunction with the Apereo Learning Analytics Processor and OpenLRS projects, OpenDashboard integrates seamlessly with those applications out of the box. OpenDashboard is also designed specifically for a learning context with support for traditional learning entities such as courses and students as well as learning standards such as IMS LTI and the Experience API (xAPI).
Whether it is helping to effectively communicate learning data to your end users or any part of the Open Learning Analytics process, Unicon can help. Contact us to setup a discussion with one of our Integration and Analytics technologists. We hope you have enjoyed reading and found value in our Open Learning Analytics article series - Thank You.