Learning Analytics Explained

by Niall Sclater, published by Routledge Purchase on Amazon

Book cover

Learning Analytics Explained draws extensively from case studies and interviews with experts in order to discuss emerging applications of the new field of learning analytics. Educational institutions increasingly collect data on students and their learning experiences, a practice that helps enhance courses, identify learners who require support, and provide a more personalized learning experience, but there is a corresponding need for guidance on how to carry out institutional projects, intervene effectively with students, and assess legal and ethical issues. This book provides that guidance while also covering the evolving technical architectures, standards, and products within the field.

Chris Jones, Professor of Research in Educational Technology, Liverpool John Moores University, author of Networked Learning:
Learning Analytics Explained is a must-read for senior managers, learning technologists, and all academics interested in how learning is impacted by the volume of information and the new kinds of data produced by digital technologies. Accessibly written, this is a book that speaks to everyone in higher education and addresses what are perhaps the most important current issues. Rooted in international experience and years of solid work at The Open University and with the UK Joint Information Systems Committee, it is well-informed and comprehensive. It is a book to read immediately and then to go back to later as a unique source of reference.

Martin Hall, Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town, and Advisor to Jisc:
The analysis of digital data is changing the way we think about education. Niall Sclater, who brings years of practical expertise into this field, has written the first comprehensive account of learning analytics and its effects on education. He evaluates technical advances and claims to efficacy with a critical eye, and foregrounds ethical considerations to produce a considered introduction to the field. This book is essential reading for anyone who needs to know about the ways in which digital data are shaking the traditional idea of the classroom.

Cassandra Colvin’s review in the Journal of Learning Analytics:
… I found Learning Analytics Explained to be a pragmatic and relevant account of learning analytics practice across the higher education sector. The reader, guided by the book’s well-considered structure and Sclater’s engaging and accessible writing style, is navigated through content grouped into six sections: background (including what learning analytics is), applications, logistics, technologies, deployment, and future directions. In each of these sections, Sclater provides a comprehensive account of what is happening in the field, identifying the affordances, motivations, and challenges for each identified practice, and the implications of each development for the practitioner sitting in their institutional context. …

Sclater’s Learning Analytics Explained speaks strongly to a sector wanting to make sense of learning analytics and “how to do it.” Through its engaging and broad account of current practice in what is being done in the field of learning analytics, Learning Analytics Explained impressively meets Sclater’s charge —“What is learning analytics and how can we make the most of it?” It is highly recommended to staff, managers, and practitioners in the field focused on the use of learning analytics in education.
Full review by Cassandra Colvin

Matthew D. Pistilli, PhD, Iowa State University in Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning
…The field of learning analytics in higher education becomes more and more complex with each passing day – just like the algorithms many employ in an effort to identify and analyze data that can help optimize students’ learning. There have been webinars, articles, white papers, and books written in an effort to parse out what learning analytics is and is not, how it does and does not work, or what should or should not be considered when deploying and employing tools. The authors and presenters of these works have done well in their efforts, but often leave the uninitiated or uninformed reader with more questions and confusion than answers or sense-making. Niall Sclater’s Learning Analytics Explained does not create this confusion, but instead provides a breath of fresh air for the literature in this field….
Full review by Matthew D. Pistilli

Justohidalgo’s review on GoodReads ★★★★★
An extremely necessary book for those of us interested and engaged in Learning Analytics. The book touches every critical aspect of the topic, from technology to ethics. I have found specially useful the detailed resource list at the end of every chapter to continue my research wherever I felt I needed more. The mixture of short excerpts from interviews with experts around the world and the author’s explanation of each area works well -though I had my own doubts when I started reading-.
The book has answered many of my initial questions, and has generated many more, which I gather as a good result. Definitely recommended.

Timothy Read’s review on Amazon ★★★★★
A very nice introductory text to learning analytics and why we should care
The book nicely demystifies learning analytics and explains why readers, with a wide range of professional profiles, should be interested in the field and how such analyses are currently being used. What makes it particularly valuable is the identification of problems and limitations that there are in the direct application of this process, where it can be tempting just to crunch the data and extract erroneous conclusions. The author’s incites clearly reflect his experience in the field. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a good background of the subject. It will save considerable time and effort taking those painful first steps on the learning curve. Regarding the formal aspects, the book is well structured and clearly written and doesn’t hide behind the use of overly specialised or technical language.

Jose Antonio Omedes Capdevila’s review on Amazon ★★★★★
Comprehensive and Practical
The book touches on multiple dimensions of learning analytics ranging from theoretical aspects to future technology directions.
It also provides a good background for those willing to implement learning analytics in their institutions, which gives the book a very practical approach.
One of the relevant topics is “ethics in learning analytics”. Three chapters of the book go over all the ethical challenges of this educational technology. It is not surprising, as the author is a reference in the matter.
Highly recommended !!

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Table of Contents


1: The evolution of a new field
2: Expert motivations

3: Early alert and student success
4: Course recommendation
5: Adaptive learning
6: Curriculum design
7: Expert thoughts on applications

8: Data
9: Metrics and Predictive Modelling
10: Visualisation
11: Intervention
12: Student-facing analytics
13: Expert thoughts on logistics

14: Architecture
15: Standards
16: Products
17: Expert thoughts on technologies

18: Institutional Readiness
19: Project planning
20: Ethics
21: Transparency and consent
22: Privacy and data protection
23: Expert thoughts on deployment

Future directions
24: Emerging techniques
25: Expert visions