Institutions that are rolling out learning analytics projects will have to address a range of new and often complex issues. This is likely to mean developing an institutional policy specifically to address these issues or adapting existing policies. Jisc’s Code of Practice for Learning Analytics provides a checklist of the areas which may need to be handled in such a document.
A lot of institutions have asked us for help in developing their policies in this area. Based on work carried out with Dr Nick Moore and colleagues from the University of Gloucestershire, I’ve produced a draft Model Institutional Learning Analytics Policy which covers the different areas in the Code of Practice.
One challenge we had was how to get a policy through institutional governance processes when we didn’t yet know precise details of the data to be drawn from and the processes that are to be put in place. Not only that, but these things are likely to evolve quite rapidly, and you can’t be continually taking a document containing relatively minor changes through layers of committees. The answer is a separate document – see the draft Model Student Guide to Learning Analytics. This is referred to by the main policy, but can be dynamically updated with new details as they arise.
Separate documentation for staff may be required too – perhaps in the form of a single guide for all staff or tailored to specific groups such as personal tutors.
One challenge is to ensure maximum transparency around e.g. the data that is being used and the algorithms being deployed, while ensuring that the document is comprehensible by students (or anyone else, for that matter). It does occur to me that, for the purposes of transparency, there might be a need for a third document for those students (and staff members) who want the full gory details of what’s happening under the bonnet.
The idea is that institutions will be able to take these documents and adapt them to their needs. These are works in progress and there are no doubt other areas which could be included. The draft policy and student guide will be discussed at a workshop to be attended by early adopter universities in Bristol this week. Comments from others would be very welcome, either on this blog or via email.