Embracing big data in complex educational systems: the learning analytics imperative and the policy challenge

Leah P. Macfadyen, Shane Dawson, Abelardo Pardo, Dragan Gašević

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In the new era of big educational data, learning analytics (LA) offer the possibility of implementing real–time assessment and feedback systems and processes at scale that are focused on improvement of learning, development of self–regulated learning skills, and student success. However, to realize this promise, the necessary shifts in the culture, technological infrastructure, and teaching practices of higher education, from assessment–for–accountability to assessment–for–learning, cannot be achieved through piecemeal implementation of new tools. We propose here that the challenge of successful institutional change for learning analytics implementation is a wicked problem that calls for new adaptive forms of leadership, collaboration, policy development and strategic planning. Higher education institutions are best viewed as complex systems underpinned by policy, and we introduce two policy and planning frameworks developed for complex systems that may offer institutional teams practical guidance in their project of optimizing their educational systems with learning analytics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalResearch & Practice in Assessment
Volume9
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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