Footprints at school: modelling in-class social dynamics from students' physical positioning traces

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Schools are increasingly becoming into complex learning spaces where students interact with various physical and digital resources, educators, and peers. Although the field of learning analytics has advanced in analysing logs captured from digital tools, less progress has been made in understanding the social dynamics that unfold in physical learning spaces. Among the various rapidly emerging sensing technologies, position tracking may hold promises to reveal salient aspects of activities in physical learning spaces such as the formation of interpersonal ties among students. This paper explores how granular x-y physical positioning data can be analysed to model social interactions among students and teachers. We conducted an 8-week longitudinal study in which positioning traces of 98 students and six teachers were automatically captured every day in an open-plan public primary school. Positioning traces were analysed using social network analytics (SNA) to extract a set of metrics to characterise students' positioning behaviours and social ties at cohort and individual levels. Results illustrate how analysing positioning traces through the lens of SNA can enable the identification of certain pedagogical approaches that may be either promoting or discouraging in-class social interaction, and students who may be socially isolated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLAK 2021 Conference Proceedings - The Impact we Make: The contributions of learning analytics to learning
Subtitle of host publicationThe Eleventh International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge
EditorsMaren Scheffel, Nia Dowell, Srecko Joksimovic, George Siemens
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450389358
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2021 - Online, Irvine, United States of America
Duration: 12 Apr 202116 Apr 2021
Conference number: 11th (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleLAK 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • Classroom analytics
  • Indoor positioning
  • Proxemics
  • Social networks analysis
  • Social ties

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