My current focus is on learning analytics. How can we tell from site analytics whether someone is learning, engaging in activities that have been shown to support learning, or exhibiting behaviours that are associated with learning? And, rather than develop Wheel 2.0, I'm looking at available analytics and whether they can be harnessed to do this. Hence the current focus on Google Analytics.
A problem is that identifying learning means that I need to be able to associate activity with specific individuals or groups of individuals. As I discussed below, I can do that to some limited extent with Google Analytics but it's not really set up for me to do that and, more to the point, focusing on individuals in this way feels intrusive and, I think, would need informed consent from those concerned if I pursued it to any extent.
So Google Analytics can give me some pointers as to whether learning (activities/behaviours) are taking place, but to link this to individual learners or groups of learners would involve another set of analytics, and those learners would have to be aware of what was taking place.
Coming at this from another perspective - how about teaching analytics? I'm not thinking here of time/motion studies about level of activity and output - I'm more interested in helping teachers / educators judge the value their output has for others. Google Analytics are potentially more helpful here, because the authors of online resources, and the creators of online discussions have publicly identified themselves, and so resources can be tied to individuals.
So, if I examine an online resource, I could look at how many visits it receives, how long those visits last and whether people move on to use linked resources. I can examine the effects of sharing a link to that resource on Twitter. How effective are my Twitter links compared with those of people widely known for their expertise in the field?
More broadly, if I look at an educational resource (I'm currently looking at Cloudworks) I can begin to identify the most effective resources and behaviours. In my next post, I'll describe some preliminary work I have done on this.