Rethinking learning analytics adoption through complexity leadership theory

Shane Dawson, Oleksandra Poquet, Cassandra Colvin, Tim Rogers, Abelardo Pardo, Dragan Gasevic

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite strong interest in learning analytics (LA), adoption at a large-scale organizational level continues to be problematic. This May in part be due to the lack of acknowledgement of existing conceptual LA models to operationalize how key adoption dimensions interact to inform the realities of the implementation process. This paper proposes the framing of LA adoption in complexity leadership theory (CLT) to study the overarching system dynamics. The framing is empirically validated in a study analysing interviews with senior staff in Australian universities (n=32). The results were coded for several adoption dimensions including leadership, governance, staff development, and culture. The coded data were then analysed with latent class analysis. The results identified two classes of universities that either i) followed an instrumental approach to adoption - typically top-down leadership, large scale project with high technology focus yet demonstrating limited staff uptake; or ii) were characterized as emergent innovators –bottom up, strong consultation process, but with subsequent challenges in communicating and scaling up innovations. The results suggest there is a need to broaden the focus of research in LA adoption models to move on from small-scale course/program levels to a more holistic and complex organizational level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK'18)
    Subtitle of host publicationTowards User-Centred Learning Analytics
    EditorsSimon Buckingham Shum, Rebecca Ferguson, Agathe Merceron, Xavier Ochoa
    Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Print)9781450364003
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2018
    EventInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2018 - SMC Conference & Function Centre, Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 5 Mar 20189 Mar 2018
    Conference number: 8th (Conference website) (Proceedings)


    ConferenceInternational Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference 2018
    Abbreviated titleLAK 2018
    Internet address


    • Complexity
    • Leadership
    • Learning analytics adoption

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